Over the past two weeks, I’ve written about the three elements that are, for me, an important part of a yoga class. In the hour, hour and a half of a yoga class, it is usual for these elements to take no more than five to ten minutes. And yet, I think each element is worth taking time to understand because as we all know those first few minutes set the tone for everything that follows. This is true for any type of class or workshop. It’s true for speeches and presentations. The way instructors or facilitators introduce their subject can engage students or convince them the topic will be dull as dishwater. It’s why authors stress over their opening lines and paragraphs. In a book, the opening lines catch your attention and often determine whether or not you will read the book.
James Lang, writing for The Chronicle of Higher Education puts it this way. “The opening five minutes offer us a rich opportunity to capture the attention of students and prepare them for learning. They walk into our classes trailing all of the distractions of their complex lives — the many wonders of their smartphones, the arguments with roommates, the question of what to have for lunch. Their bodies may be stuck in a room with us for the required time period, but their minds may be somewhere else entirely.” https://www.chronicle.com/article/Small-Changes-in-Teaching-The/234869
In the same way for a yoga class, these beginning moments provide the opportunity for students to make the mental shift from the everyday world to the present moment. Well thought out beginnings set the stage for what happens next.
Whether it’s a meeting, a presentation, or information remarks, finding time to take a breath, check-in with yourself and articulate the outcome you want to achieve (set an intention) is worth the effort. The same applies to starting a new program, a new semester, or a new position. This is the work of leadership. Making possible for others to take this same time is also leadership work. Beginnings set the stage for the future. They are worth the time it takes to begin well.