"I have been told there can be a scramble for props and you work with another person. One who watches the place, the other competes for the props. What has been your experience so far?" I received this question in an e-mail last week. I had heard that too and it does help to be friendly with your neighboring students so you can help each other out. Most of the time this works, but sometimes it becomes challenging. Everyone has a story. Here's mine.
I was standing on my mat guarding the mats on each side, as my neighbors fetched three thick mats for Sarvangasana. Two students came and set their stack of thick mats on top of my feet. I stated emphatically, "I'm standing here." They prevailed and we had to search for another space to set up. At first I wondered if this was a cultural difference. Then I recalled women shopping at a Filene's Basement sale with a similar determined, competitive energy. Fundamentally everyone does want to do their best to respond to the Iyengars' instruction to "Move fast."
What I have experienced much more than that competitive attitude is the supportive cooperation among students. A quick moving a mat over to make room for someone or passing an extra belt to another happens frequently. Daily there are kind smiles and an occasional quiet empathetic chuckle.