Monday, May 3, 2010

Chatty Cathy's - Help please!

I started teaching a class at a community center.  Very different from teaching at yoga centers...  Where do I begin.  The class was very large, that I can deal with and am OK with.  The more people I can share my love of yoga with the better.  The room was loud.  There was a squash game or jump roping or tennis or something going on in the room behind us.  There was an aerobics class above and the pounding on the ceiling was scary.  I am guessing a room next to or around the corner as the constant slam of a door that felt like ours was very apparent.   All of these mild distractions are easy to deal with.  I play music, I remind them to use the external distractions as a way to improve focus and of course ignore it.

The one thing I have not experienced before was people who talk the entire time.  I have as a participant made the occasional comment, heard the occasional comment.  A laugh, a giggle, a question, an excuse me, occasional noises.  This was different!  Two women at the back of the class had a conversation through the entire practice.   They never took a break.  I am a talker, I know that.  Get me on the phone or in a room with my friends and I can talk.  I do however know that there is a time and a place.  I do not chatter constantly during yoga, meditation, church, plays, presentations that kind of thing.  I can turn it off. 

They started as soon as they walked in, probably before they walked in.  I thought OK they will stop when the practice begins.  NOPE!  During the centering portion of the class, chat chat chat.  During postures, chat chat chat.  During integrations between postures, chat, chat, chat.  Preparing for savasana and centering for this, chat chat chat.  A bunch Chatty Cathy's.  They were quiet for the relaxation/savasana portion, all seven minutes of it.  I swear it must have been killing them.  As soon as I said "bring awareness to your breath".  It started again, chat chat chat.  I said several times "let us enjoy the silent space".  I don't think they heard me because they just kept talking.   I swear I have never heard or seen anything like it.

I tried a few techniques to shut these women up but nothing worked.  I was talking to other women at the end of class so I did not get to talk with them and come to some understanding.  I know they are paying for this class, but so are the other 18 women.  For some yoga is just another exercise class.  However, for others it is meditative and spiritual and a certain amount of respect is required.

For next week during the centering and opening part of the practice I will prepare something to remind these women that it can be a spiritual practice for some.  I am putting it out there to anyone who may be reading... do you have any suggestions to quiet the Chatty Cathy's???



  1. Oh Jenn,

    Hardball. Just point it right out. Separate them. Or another trick is to lead from the other side of the room so the back row is the first row. That can shift a group dynamic in a second. Wait for everybody to get settled and then go to the back!

    Or catch them right at the beginning and say, "Hey, it's great you're here and it's really hard for me to lead the class when you're chatting the whole time. Would it work for you to talk after class? Would it be easier if you weren't sitting next to each other?"

    It's actually one of the things I love about the other activities I do - we can chat during them! Yoga, not so much. That's not totally true either, there are some classes where we chat throughout, but not a big, drop in class. One other strategy - try and join the conversation - get other people involved - make the whole thing interactive! I'm trying to get that happening for the Tuesday night class - maybe they could come to that and get the other people started!

    Let me know how it turns out :)

  2. I completely agree! It would really distract me if people were talking through a yoga class. I have enough trouble quieting my own mind as it is! I think the direct approach is best, although perhaps not directly to them yet. Let everyone know at the beginning of the next class that yoga is a spiritual as well as physical practice for many and that it is important to quiet your mind and your words during class time. I really think that it's a respect thing.

  3. Thanks so much. I think I might set up a mat for me at the front and the back of the class. My subtle approach was not enough last time so I do think being more direct. I had planned to discretely chat with them after but they rushed out before I had a chance. If I can make eye contact next week that might be a bit better I think. I think I might direct them to Jamine's class for some good meditation or the friday night philosophy class may be great too!

    Thanks so mcuh,