I recently experienced something that I have never encountered before. There was a young man who wanted to simply observe the yoga class from the back of the room, and not participate. I tried to convince him to participate but I could tell he was very out of his comfort zone and was curious to see what a yoga class was like. So I let him sit at the back of the room. He gently observed and closed his eyes much of the time.
In my opinion, he was doing yoga the entire time. Sitting there in stillness and silence listening to the cues and observing his own thoughts. It was basically an hour long contemplative meditation for him. I talked with him after class and he said he wanted to come back and take the lass next time, that he really liked the music, and also that he fell asleep during shavasana! I felt really good about holding that space for him.
However I also talked to the lady in the back of the class who was practicing by him... and she felt rather vulnerable and uncomfortable having him there, right in view of her bum the whole time. So then I found myself in a conundrum. I let her know why he was observing and she felt better about it... but now I'm thinking that potentially the whole class felt a little awkward with an observer in the back of the room. There is nothing I can do but reflect and learn now.
Perhaps next time something like this happens I'll remind the students that they can practice yoga however they want even if that means sitting in meditation for the whole class.