what time is it?

by blogasana on March 21, 2011

I’m not going to beat around the bush here: I rarely end class on time. Ok, I don’t end on time. Ever. Always a couple of minutes late, if not more.

Ok, so let’s get down to business.

I know this. I’ve journaled about it, been counseled on it, sweet talked myself and guilted myself.

Oh yes, there’s all kinds of good material here like control, worthiness, arrogance, scarcity, perceived value, insecurity and poor planning. We could dig into the psychological roots of each (please don’t).

I go through phases of being better. And strangely, I always end teacher training sessions on time to the minute (maybe a seven hour day actually feels like enough).

But the reality is it’s a problem. I feel guilty and anxious when I look at the clock, apologetic when students leave, and it demeans my teaching. It is simply not a respectful, professional practice.


When a teacher ends class late it causes all kinds of problems at the studio. For some classes, we have just 15 minutes turn around. When that’s shaved to 10 minutes or less, students feel rushed going out and stressed coming in.

It’s disrespectful to the next teacher. I’ve been on the receiving end of a late class and my blood pressure rises (pot calling kettle?).

Imagine me at a staff meeting urging teachers to end on time. There might as well be giggles and snickers around the circle.

Positive examples

My yoga teaching compadre, Madeleine, has the timing of class down to a T: head toward supine for a twist or other nicey-nice with 15 minutes left. At 10 till they’re in Savasana. Eight minutes there (for her 60 minute class) and she’s saying Namaste on the hour.

Makes perfect sense.

My third grade-teacher friend, Tami, always ends class on time—whether it’s yoga class or 3rd grad class. Here’s her convincing reason: the bell goes off and the kids leave. There is no keeping them over for four more minutes. Class ends at 3:20, not when she decides it’s over.

That’s a good little shift for me. Class ends at 10:30.

Another way

I’m asking for help. Support. Not a pass, because this is something I really want to work on — a way in which to make myself vulnerable. However, what I don’t need is excused or abused.

Here’s what I would like: your tips, your experiences, language and framing around time that you find helpful in boundary setting. If you would rather not leave a comment, you can email me at michelle@itsallyoga.com.

Thanks in advance!

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Candace March 21, 2011 at 10:58 pm

Oh sweet M!

I think of it this way: A class might not be the last thing that a person has to do for the day. As you well know, we have so many different types of people coming to yoga. They might work during the day and are on their way to a child’s sporting event or have dinner plans afterward; some people work nights, so they have to be at work at a certain time, just catching a class before they go in; some might not work at all but have some sort of plans…All instances, perhaps it might be helpful to think about how you’d like to send someone off to that next thing happening in their lives. When I run over time as the teacher, I tell the class, I give them the opportunity to make the decision that they need to make instead of me making it for them because that would clearly be me overstepping my boundaries.

Thanks for your earnest and sincere dedication to this topic. Love you~ C


blogasana March 22, 2011 at 4:24 am

thanks c — <3


Jennifer Souza March 21, 2011 at 11:10 pm

Well, you have gotten better. At the old location it used to be 15-20 minutes. Just some raw observations since you asked: there is an energy arc to class, and I think if you could focus in on that arc, it would help. Back at that old location, where we could see a clock, I was often running off to work so I was very focused on the time. I remember there was this sense I got from you that you wanted to include *just one more pose* which usually made class go over. Hope this is helpful!


Madeleine March 21, 2011 at 11:16 pm

I can’t do anything just yet other than smile and bow to you for your total honesty on this one. I will be fascinated to see what is offered.

Thank you for the shout out, too.



Elizabeth March 22, 2011 at 12:05 am

Appreciating your honesty and vulnerability since I know this from meetings, where people are waiting outside your door to begin the next meeting, or people are waiting to run from your meeting to the next one which is somewhere else on campus, and it is so hard not to run at least up to the minute if not over. The thing that I think would have helped me – if I had remembered to practice it more – would have been to ingrain in my head that 5 minutes before the “end” was the end of the meeting and I had to be done by then. (Which is really one of the practices of the effective meetings class we all took so of course how it was supposed to work but of course it never did.)


blogasana March 22, 2011 at 4:24 am

this is great, elizabeth — thanks! almost like a trick :)


Tami March 22, 2011 at 2:36 am

oh friend, thanks for the shout out. the bell really does help =)

the must be in savasana by this time is the key factor for me. i don’t want to scrimp on the lie down (after the lie down), so i usually have to drop a pose or two to make that deadline.

ps – i admire your honesty. it’s a thing and you’re putting it out there. good job!


blogasana March 22, 2011 at 4:25 am

yes, that’s where i get in trouble — don’t want to short change sava… so i still give a long one and cut into time. need a bell…


emma March 22, 2011 at 3:40 am

i leave the last 3 minutes before savasana (or before the final spinal twist or…) to let the students do any last stretches they wished had been included, wished had been held for longer, etc. poses effect every body differently, and i dont believe in one set counterpose. so i give some time for folks to do what they need to do, with the understanding that sometimes what they need most of all is extra savasana. i also do this around 15 minutes beforehand. its a good time stamp.


blogasana March 22, 2011 at 4:25 am

yes, love that. thanks, emma. helpful!


Michelle J. March 22, 2011 at 4:11 am

Thanks for modeling vulnerability for us all. :-) The thing someone once said to me about being late that stuck with me the most was “When you’re late, you’re telling the other person that your time is more valuable than theirs.” Maybe the question is, what are you saying to the students when you end class late?


blogasana March 22, 2011 at 4:27 am

that i love them and always want to be together? :) no, i get it. i do. that’s a great direction from which to approach. thanks — xo


Kelley M March 22, 2011 at 4:24 am

I appreciate your acknowledgment to the issue and your vulnerability to open up to comments. I propose some of the delay (if not all of it) is up front before class starts. Your classes don’t tend to start on time because you, for one, are so popular and everyone wants a piece of your time and attention. Second, you are so welcoming to new people and this, in turn, makes for a great business practice. I am not the most perfect about running on time either but perhaps if you showed up right at the end of the other class you could chat it up with folks outside before being let in. Then you would have that full 15 minutes to also play host, chat it up, give hugs and meet new people. If you miss someone then try to catch them after.

P.S. I usually don’t mind class ending late as long as it’s not the LATE class. LOL Hugs to your heart.


blogasana March 22, 2011 at 4:33 am

that’s a great way to look at it, kel. i have found myself the last 3 classes i’ve taught starting late because of meeting newbies. it’s a tough line b/c we have to do certain check in. but yes… this def plays in. great advice… thanks love!!


Leili Learning Life March 22, 2011 at 4:37 am

Michelle, I’d first like to say how much I’ve enjoyed your blog posts recently. What you’re sharing, as vulnerable as you’re making yourself, is so rich. Thank you.

Thank you also for instilling in me how important it is to end on time. While I may be only a fledgling teacher, my class timing has worked out pretty well. So perhaps I can be another mirror to reflect your teaching back to you. ^_^

Like Tami, I’m a “must be in savasana” planner. I’ll write out my class sequence, and then break it up into segments so that I can determine how much time I’d like to spend. And this I also got from Tami: I write down the clock face time for each section, starting with the end bell. So in a class that ends at 7:00 am, I know that we’re moving towards savasana at 6:45 am — twisting (or other needed pose), putting socks and sweaters on, and retrieving any other props for final relaxation. At 6:58 am, fingers and toes are wiggling. Namaste at 7:00 am.

So while I’m mindful of this 15-minute mark, it’s meant that in each class I’ve taught, I’ve had to let go of a pose or two. This is hard, because each and every pose I’ve planned for the class is important in some way — I mean, if I put the pose in, how could I then leave it out? But I’ve had to do it every time. As I continue to teach more, I know I’ll become smarter about the poses I choose and how I time the entire class. But for now, it’s working out fine.

Thank you for opening up this discussion. <3


blogasana March 22, 2011 at 10:42 pm

thanks so much for these musing, leili. and glad to hear that my *message* about ending on time is clear :-) i’m glad you’ve found a technique that helps you stay on track… it’s always a delicate balancing act. xoxo


Nancy A March 22, 2011 at 3:38 pm

this is one of my bugaboos! I cannot stand when teachers go over without asking permission first. I always start on time and finish on time. Always. It’s really not that hard. Assuming that students can stay an extra 10 min is really assuming that you are the only thing going in their life. 99% of the time that’s wrong.


Diane March 22, 2011 at 6:40 pm

not fair to ask me since I usually have more time than most…..I just feel lucky to think that we’re getting more of your time. Guess that’s a little selfish, but true.

So for all of your good reasons for ending on time, listen to your other students


blogasana March 22, 2011 at 10:43 pm

thanks diane. xoxo


Gilda March 23, 2011 at 1:21 am

I understand and respect the end-on-time arguments, but I agree with Diane in the lucky-but-perhaps-selfish camp… I always feel like WE are getting a super deal when the explorations fan out a bit…!

I’ve taken classes where, if someone needs to leave exactly on time, they just let the instructor know ahead of class and, if the class is running over (announced or not), they take the initiative to do a short personal savasana before tiptoeing out. Perhaps that is an option to offer in the intermediate classes that don’t have a class following right after?



blogasana March 23, 2011 at 4:49 am

gilda – yes, that does happen and seems fair up until the point that i realize they shouldn’t have to worry about *not* being able to leave right on time :-). i do appreciate your graciousness. xoxo


Madeleine March 23, 2011 at 2:03 am

Hello. Just checking in to say these are really good. In particular, I want to thank Kelley for pointing out the side of this I’ve never thought of – starting on time.

I am a bit of an *ahem* stickler for that, too, and I’ve noticed when I sub other classes a lot more students show up late than they do for mine. I think people get used to things and start to expect it. Makes change hard, sticky even. Fascinating.


blogasana March 23, 2011 at 4:51 am

ya, a great point, right? tho i never end late just to accommodate starting late, i probably haven’t taken a late start time into full consideration in the overall plan. with big classes and more new ppl (yay), it seems to have been harder these last couple of weeks in particular to start on time… it’s a valid spot to keep an eye on.


Kim March 29, 2011 at 11:35 pm

Your vulnerability inspires my own. I too struggle with the boundary of time in the yoga setting. I’ll share some of what I believe has shaped my own practices,…practices that I am, like you, wholeheartedly committed to changing. My first yoga teacher struggled with the same. When I began practicing yoga in the studio setting, I flowered in my teachers care. So enthused with this transformative practice, and her expertise in asana instruction, I hungered for the learning in each class, and rejoiced when she taught for a longer period of time, feeling as though it was a gift. Somehow I felt as though I was that much more healed and learned for her extra time. Everything she offered felt like a gift, and indeed it was – but I also learned over the years (through extensive unraveling) that I imposed a schema I had constructed for many years around a “guru,” the “master teacher” onto my relationship with her. She could offer or request anything from me, and my response, filled with devotional love, allowed for absolutely anything. She was “the one.” This had her in my own mind, so far beyond me in every respect, enthroned on a golden chair in the heaven of “If only I could be so wise” – This was obviously terribly unfair of me, for she, like me, is a human being, subject to all of the amazingly stunning gifts and real sludgy struggles that we forever experience for being this animal that is human. Her fall from grace (inevitable) resounded with a terribly uncomfortable “thud” – for the both of us. A powerful and hard lesson (as most powerful lessons usually are). I share because first, your tender vulnerability created some space for me to look at yoga class time and what’s underneath my lateness without my usual heavy hand of guilt and deep seeded anxiety (I can relate to the unnerving clock glances). I think I have carried so much of my own previous experience (without knowing or understanding) into the sweet time that I now share as a teacher with students. Somewhere, deep down, I think I have erroneously believed that extra time means extra benefit. And I can’t neglect to mention my own (slowly unraveling) loop that who I am and what I offer is not enough. So that’s what’s here – vulnerability in response to yours. All of this vulnerability…aaahhh, big sighs, soft insights, and magically, the freedom for change to emerge. I know that “time” in a class (and more or less of it) really has nothing to do with the process of yoga. It is not bound by time, by classes, teachers, studios, books, yoga mats, outfits, or community, even though it exists within these things for many of us. For me it is something unnameable – but it lies within each of us, and because we instinctually yearn for our own evolution, it unfolds us, as we are ready, in our own time, into a life we have denied.


blogasana March 30, 2011 at 12:30 am

@kim – my heart… the sweetness here. so beautifully communicated. (perhaps this is a post of your own to further unravel and share with others?) oh my—the part here about how “time in a class really has nothing to do with the process of yoga”…. cha-CHING. huge. thank you for that. we continue to learn and grow and fall and get back up with each others’ support. <3


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