The Importance of Punctuality

March 04, 2019

Hi, I'm Collette. Content and Creative Manager and Yoga Teacher at YM... and I have time anxiety. It's a problem... but mostly a good one. I arrive at 6.15am to teach a 7am class just because I'm paranoid about public transport playing me out; I start to panic if I'm not in the studio (practising or teaching), at least half an hour prior. As Brent Beshore mentioned in his Forbes article on lateness, “5 Minutes Early Is On Time; On Time Is Late; Late Is Unacceptable”. I probably take this a little too far with my punctuality, but you should take it literally. 

I’m sure you’ve heard a version of this saying somewhere. It applies to work, events, family dinners, and your local gym class. Picture this: you arrive at a meeting 10-minutes late, missing out on all the vital content that was presented in the introduction. You proceed to listen in at the meeting with no context of the topic discussed, and end up feeling your way around through the means of questions and points noted by the other people in the meeting room. Never mind that you walked into that meeting room late, made everyone stop to look at you, and interrupted the speaker’s train of thoughts as you shuffled into your seat. Imagine if that happened just thrice in the span of 10-minutes! It’s not just distracting to everyone in the room, it’s also disrespectful to the rest of the people who made an effort to arrive on time.  

The same can be said about being late to a yoga class. In many yoga studios, the practice of yoga is a strict, traditional discipline with no wiggle room for negotiation when it comes to postures, form, or punctuality. I’ve been to a class where a student was yelled at and turned away for showing up five minutes late (not at YM, of course), just as we were midway into our breathing exercises. Most of us who had our eyes closed squinted them open to see who was the one who took the walk of shame. Of course, our breathing exercise was interrupted and we had to all start from scratch. I've also been to a class where a student arrived on the mat about ten minutes in, scrambling to set up his towel and looking around the room just to get up to speed with everyone else. The teacher had to walk up to him to ask if he was new to the class type, thus interrupting the sequence everyone else was in. After class, he apologised for his lateness — to which the teacher very kindly replied, "It's okay". But is it really though?

As a teacher at YM, we might not be as crazy strict as my example above, but we do practice common sense, and we stand firm against lateness. Coming in late to class means missing the chance to notify the teacher about injuries. It means missing out on information, like the agenda for the class, or whether or not props are needed for the class. It means the tacky sound of feet on the mat as one tip-toes in. It means the jingling of keys against a water bottle as one settles down onto the mat. It means skipping a part of the warm up that might result in an injury or overstrain during the practice. It means a compromise on safety.

I hear about late stories all the time: "I got held up in traffic", "Something cropped up, but I really made an effort to rush down via taxi", "I was only six minutes late", or "It's my first offense". Truth is, we don’t keep tabs on whether it’s someone’s first or fifth time being late, and we're not bothered about how you manage your time. There's also no general standard around lateness: how late is too late? To one, ten minutes might be acceptable; but to others like Brent Beshore, you’re only on time if you’re at least one minute early. 

Being early is a good habit. It means that you care enough about the situation, and the people around you. Of course, as someone who is chronically early, I also have my moments where I take time for granted — mostly in social situations, where people show up late anyway. See, here's the thing: when people around you are late, you have the tendency to fall into that same habit. Think about the time you had to meet a friend whom you know is perpetually late. Did you arrive early to the meeting, or did you take an extra 15-minutes to get ready because you knew that you'd still be earlier than said friend? My point exactly. 

That’s why, I believe that every gym, every yoga studio, even every movie theatre, needs to set some ground rules around punctuality. Give one latecomer a get out of jail free pass, and everyone else will think it’s okay to be late! We get it: sh*t happens sometimes. I'm not here to educate you about allowing for extra travel time during peak hours, or booking your transport ahead of time so it doesn’t screw you over — you already know these things! What I'm here to say is, do everyone a favour, and call the studio to book in to the next available class instead — YM has got heaps to choose from!

Practicing yoga on and off the mat means taking the discipline you’ve learnt in yoga, and applying it to your daily lives. I believe in thoughtfulness, courtesy, time integrity, and respecting others around who made the effort to be on time. Cultivate a habit of punctuality so you’ll no longer keep your friends waiting at a lunch appointment, or be the last person to show up in the office.

By Collette Miles, Content and Creative Manager, and Teacher at Yoga Movement

Do you write? Do you have some strong opinions on subjects around YM, yoga, food, coffee, people… life?! Feel free to submit your opinion pieces to YM at info@yogamovement.com, and we might be able to get your words up in lights @ yogamovement.com!