10 Characters You May Encounter in Yoga Class.

Via on Jul 17, 2010

No, not Ogden (although that would be pretty awesome)! On the heels of the top 10 yoga class pet peeves, versions one and two, comes a list of 10 characters you may encounter in yoga class:

1. “The warrior” – The fellow to the left of you begins to take ujjayi breathing to the next level. You know how teachers will say, “Make your breath sound like the ocean at the back of your throat”? Well, now you feel like you’re at the beach…in the middle of a typhoon.

2. “The invader” – The person to the right of you places their mat directly beside yours, with not even an inch of room. Your hands are constantly brushing against one another awkwardly as you move through Sun Salutations. You take a step forward, hoping to stagger yourself against them. They take a step forward. You take a step back. They take a step back. You give up and resign yourself to whispering “sorry” throughout class as various body parts continue to make contact.

3. “The grunter” – The fellow behind you with very tight hips and hamstrings will grunt and moan loudly as he moves from one position to another. “Unhhhhh,” he cries. “Ahhhh,” he moans. You feel uncomfortable as you splay into a wide-legged forward bend.

4. “The show-off” – The girl in front of you, a former gymast and ballerina, springs deftly into full splits with ease and grace. She gazes around the room, smiling sympathetically at those who can barely spread their legs at all (also ensuring that everyone has noticed her and her perky bun). You stare at her coldly as your sweaty hands fumble to support yourself with blocks.

5. “The freestyler” – The woman in the corner pays no mind to the teacher’s instruction. She hangs passively in a forward bend as the rest of you suckers struggle through a core series. She deftly moves into headstand as everyone else swivels into Trikonasana. You can’t help but stare.

6. “The hoarder” – This man waits by the practice room door 20 minutes before class begins to make sure that he can dart in and grab his goodies. He immediately snags a bolster, four blocks, two straps, and three blankets and stockpiles them – fortress-style – around his mat, leaving limited supply for the rest of the class. You stare sadly at your one, “well-worn” block.

7. “The au-naturale” – This boy has committed himself to an eco-friendly lifestyle, meaning he shaves once every two weeks and refuses to use deodorant. His hands are stained with soil from planting trees before class and he emits a natural, “earthy” scent. Sweat begins to dampen his hemp shirt. You hold your breath and vow to submit an anonymous submission to the suggestion box after class.

8. “The talker” – This woman turns to you in Downward Dog and begins to tell you about the day she’s had. Can you believe she was late for work in the morning because her kids didn’t want to eat breakfast? She sneaks in a few words every chance she gets, leaving you feeling like the bad kid in high school who passed notes behind the teacher’s back.

9. “The latecomer” – The door opens halfway through class and in comes the latecomer. She saunters to the front of the room and asks you to move over so she can have some space. She then proceeds to slap her mat down loudly and let out a loud sigh as she settles onto her back. The teacher smiles at her graciously as she joins the rest of you. You feel anything but gracious inside.

10. “The mat man” - This man needs to place his mat in the exact same spot every single time. Much like the hoarder, he will hover anxiously outside the door to ensure that he can rush into the room and place his mat directly in front of the door, for the “best ventilation”. You have become accustomed to stepping around him as you enter class.

Maybe you’ve encountered one, or two, or all ten of these “characters” in your yoga class. Perhaps you even fit one of the descriptions yourself. But however annoying these people may seem, they do more for our practice than we may realize. The people that we resist, the people we judge and love to hate, they’re the ones we should be the most grateful for, because they are our mirrors. They show us sides of ourselves we have been unable to recognize. Yet it is for this very reason that we step onto the mat – to explore these feelings, to come to terms with them, and finally, to accept that even though we might not be there yet, we’re doing the yoga, which brings us one step closer than we were before.

About Julia Lee

Julia is a yoga teacher, lover of all things, and dedicated student of life. She strives to be open to whatever the universe throws her way and practice her yoga off the mat at all times. Julia believes that the best lessons can often be found in the most unusual places. She writes about her experiences at julialeeyoga.com and on Twitter @julialeeyoga.

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39 Responses to “10 Characters You May Encounter in Yoga Class.”

  1. Yogini# says:

    I was #6, #8 and #10, but, for their part, the style did not suit me, and the teacher was too ego. All 3 are gone now. Plus I'm happier. Julia, in a certain different mellow hatha class, those characteristics don't come to the fore.

  2. Blake says:

    Yay for list articles! You rock!

  3. Lucas P says:

    Thank you for your gracefull conclusion! I was hoping as I was reading throught that you would point out that all things that are thought of as "distractions" are actually blessings because they allow us to challenge our practice and deepin our peace and compassion for ourselves and others. My practice my be new but the wisdom is timeless. Thanks again for a fun list and an elightened conclusion. I will take this reminder onto the mat with me :-)

    • julialeeyoga says:

      How could I rag on all these poor folk without saying a single nice thing about them? ;) All jokes aside, thank you for reading and for your lovely thoughts, Lucas. You bring up a fantastic point in that these "characters" deepen our compassion for ourselves and others. I hope your practice both on and off the mat continues to evolve and grow in such a positive direction!

  4. Hahaha. Awesome. you forgot about my favorite. The guy who always seems to say Namaste a split second after everyone else has finished saying it, so that everyone can clearly notice how spiritual and enlightened they sound when they say it all slow and deep-voicedly.

  5. YogaDawg says:

    Ha ha. See my list of types here (at the bottom of the page :)
    http://www.yogadawg.com/students.htm

  6. I'd love to see your next list be "the ten types of yoga teachers"! Pretty please!

  7. goodyogi says:

    Julia I think you should thank all these people. When people bug you there is something in them that reminds you of what bugs you in yourself. Except them and love them. That is your yoga! :)
    David

  8. shakti says:

    i am 9 and 10, sorry classmates..sorry.

  9. Leigha Butler says:

    Love this! Your light-heartedness shines through. You manage to poke fun without losing sight of compassion and appreciation. Nicely done!

  10. onnenpuu says:

    I love it! Especially the conclusion…

  11. dukkhagirl says:

    I love it! When I took my first yoga classes, I was "the giggler" — the person who falls on her butt when trying to do tree pose and laughing at herself.

  12. Jon says:

    The sweaty guy didnt make the top 10..???? I'd swear you're from my studio from that list.. love it!!

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  15. jenifer says:

    my personal favorite — too-short shorts person.

    my husband — who is admittedly very cute — always gets too-short shorts girl right next to him such that, throughout the class, he has a clear view of her vagina. no, esriously, because she doesn’t wear undies under her too-short shorts. he encounters this at least once a month. usually a different girl, who smiles at him and tries to flirt the whole time. it really puts him off because he doesn’t want to look at another girl’s vagina, he wants to do yoga. if he wanted to look at vaginas, he could stay home or use the internet. LOL

    i teach yoga, and i often have guys who come in in very short yoga shorts and either no undies or tiny undies. yes, i see everything when he is in bridge pose. No, i don’t want to. I remind him to wear longer shorts or bike shorts at the next class. he usually gives me “you like what you see?” face, and i give him the “you are so gross and NO” face.

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  17. Marco says:

    How about the yogis that express “wind releasing pose” literally?

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  19. jd says:

    forgot the Stoner character. high all the time in yoga

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  23. Annie says:

    And all of these people are me.
    First because I have been each of these characters in some moment, if not many.
    Second because none of these people matter at all and the only thing that is common among them is that they are an excellent distraction – a chew toy if you will – so that I can attach my attention to judging others rather than simply breathing and moving on my mat.
    I took a class once in which the teacher kept asking, again and again, 'what's happening now? and now? right now?'
    I wonder how much deeper my practice would be if – when I catch myself judging someone – I simply go inside with that question.
    I'll get back to you and let you know how it goes.

  24. Maria Jesus says:

    I mostly try to keep the attention on myself. That helps me to emprove my yoga and my soul, too.

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