Originally published by our elephriends over at Recovering Yogi on January 18, 2012.
Seven devils all around your mat.
By Kate Stone
“Eyes on your own paper,” my friend Olivia said as we plunked down our mats for class.
“Ha,” I said. I wanted to say something a little wittier. Or even a whole word, but my brain had frozen around the truth of this directive. Yoga class has become startlingly similar to a standardized test, and therefore, if you look around the room, you cheat your own practice.
As someone who prefers the back of the room and tends toward oblivion, I don’t generally watch other people during class in order to check my own poses. There are, however, a few key things that will pull my eyes off my own paper. The Seven Devils All Around Your Mat, if you will allow:
- The Show Off Devil. The asshole who does handstands during Sun A.
- The Groupie Devil. The teacher’s fanboy who laughs at every essence of a joke.
- The Attention-Whore Devil. The loudmouth who has bad balance and swears at himself while stomping his hovered foot back to the ground. You don’t have to have good balance to do yoga. You just have to shut up and be ok with falling over.
- The Smelly Devil. The idiot who ate garlic. Seriously, it’s 10am. What could you have eaten already today that has infused itself through every orifice of your body?
- The Sick Devil. The egomaniac who came to yoga to rid their body of illness-related toxins. To hell with the 30 other people in the heated room who may or may not have health insurance and have to listen to you cough your way through Savasana.
- The Clueless Devil. The newbie, who, instead of listening to instructions, prefers to stare at their neighbor in order to figure out a pose. I can feel your eyes. They feel creepy.
- The VIP Devil. The douchebag who comes in late, leaves their cell phone on and/or leaves class 15 minutes early. Isn’t this a basic violation of The Rules of Being in Public?
Collectively, these Devils sink my practice and I fail the test of yoga. Should I be a strong enough practitioner that noises and annoyances be damned, I WILL be Zen? Yep. I should be.
Down-dogged in the middle of thirty students, next to my friend Olivia, I wondered why I even came to class at all. I could practice, devil-free, at my own house. But then there would be nothing to hold me accountable to grow my own practice out of asana and into something more. No need to remind my eyes to stay put.
Eyes on your own paper.
The Seven Devils disappear.
And you have done something way more important than handstand.
About Kate Stone
Kate started taking yoga in middle school as a rebellious move against sports camp. After years of gymnastics, not having to flip over after a backbend was a relief, and the practice stuck. After college, Kate moved to Chicago to teach mean children how to read. She was marginally successful but felt severely, physically ill-equipped to deal with the fighting in her classroom. As someone who takes things literally, she became a personal trainer. Kate spent eight years in Chicago working in gyms, bars and museums, feeling like she was supposed to have a real job. Last year she realized she doesn’t ever want one of those. Kate spent all of her money on yoga training, and is now a yoga teacher, writer and bartender living in Boston.
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