September 21, 2008

Top 10 Yoga Class Pet Peeves………..via Body + Soul [w/commentary by elephant journal’s editor-in-chief, Waylon Lewis]

Here’s Body + Soul’s list, with commentary by yours truly.

“From flirting to poor hygiene, veteran instructors share some of the yoga class faux pas they could do without.”

1. Cell Phones
“People come to yoga to get away from their stress,” explains Sandy Blaine, cofounder of the Alameda Yoga Station in Alameda, CA, “and it just follows them in the door unless they remember to turn off their phones.” [This, with late-arrivers, would make my top 10 fo’sho’. I always practice by the door, hoping for an extra lil’breeze of fresh air. So I always am first to get hit by everyone’s witty little, and sometimes super-loud rings. I hate people who leave their phones on during class. That said, I don’t hate people who leave their phones on during class but have the guts, and kindness, to get up mid-class post-ring and turn ’em off, instead of skulking away like cowards at the end of the class, having let the phone ring two more times. ~ed]

2. The In-Class Caffeine Fix
“The worst?” says Seane Corn, creator of the Vinyasa Flow Yoga DVD series. “When students sip on lattes between poses.” [I looove coffee, and coffee looooves me—still, I wouldn’t want caffeine coursing through my veins as I work up a sweat. It’d give me a heart attack, sooner or later. ~ed.]

3. Arriving Late
“People should look in and check to see if it’s okay to enter, so that they don’t disrupt the class in progress,” suggests Baxter Bell, M.D., yoga teacher, physician, and medical acupuncturist. [Amen to this one. Some of us (myself first) can’t seem to manage their own schedules, and are late for everything. Taking the next step—being selfish enough to inflict one’s lateness on everyone else, disturbing their practice, taking off shoes, changing, asking folks to move their mats…that’s going a bit far. That said, sometimes those hurried, harried folks are the ones who need that class the most. Maybe they haven’t done one in a month or so. So, again, all you can do is smile, breathe deep, and move your mat for the latecomer if necessary—and hope the teacher will show some responsibility and talk to ’em after. ~ed.]

4. Chewing Gum
“In addition to the obvious safety issue,” explains Blaine, “it interferes with the natural flow and rhythm of the breath in practice.” [Who chews gum in yoga class? A great way to choke to death. Still, unless they’re doing so loudly, I couldn’t give a shiite. ~ed]

5. B.O.
“It’s an intimate atmosphere,” says Judith Hanson Lasater, president of the California Yoga Teachers Association, “so take a shower before the class if you need to.” [This wouldn’t make my top 10. I practice in dirty hippie Boulder, as my friend Dave Rogers calls it, at an old-school yoga studio, and I’ve never smelled anyone’s BO. ~ed]

6. Leaving Early
“Teachers are left wondering if you’re leaving because of scheduling — or dissatisfaction with the class,” says Bell. [Savasana is as important as any other pose. Closing is as important as opening. Yoga isn’t just exercise, it’s a process. So don’t leave early and disturb everyone else’s well-deserved moment of peace—find a class that works for your schedule. ~ed.

7. Ogling
Corn explains: “I’ve seen students literally twist around mid-pose to check out other classmates.” [Guilty as charged. I check out teachers, too. In fact, I get irritated when someone attractive rolls their mat out near me—I think, “there goes my concentration.” Not that I try hard, but dristi—focused gaze—and following one’s breath with one’s attention are wonderful meditation-in-actions that can help us, in class and off the mat both, to overcome attachment to pleasure, which actually inhibits your in-the-moment experience of real pleasure (let alone love). ~ed.]

8. Talking
“This disregards the rights of every other student to have a quiet practice,” says Bell. [I’m the biggest talker in town, I got the widest mouth this side of the MIssissippie, the fastest blab in the Wild West. So…I rellllish the chance to shut the !@#$%^ up for an hour or two. Shut. Up. Get to know yourself, it ain’t so bad. Focus on your breath. Breeeeeathe. Move. Sweat. Take a break. ~ed]

9. Withholding Info
“I’ve had women come up and tell me at the end of a class full of backbends that they’re pregnant,” Bell says. [Super-important: tell your teacher if your shoulder hurts, your back is out…or, god yes, if you’re pregnant. It’s easy to get hurt doing yoga if your teacher doesn’t know to speak to your situation during class. ~ed]

10. Loose Shorts and No Underwear
“I can’t tell you how much genitalia I’ve seen in my lifetime,” says Corn. [I’d hate to hear that quote from yoga master Seane Corn taken out of context. Anyway, yah, this one would make my top 10, too. There’s nothing worse that seeing a dude’s ass through his ripped shorts, or his crown jewels staring out at you, saying, “Wassup.” ~ed.] 

Tips for the beginner yoga student. Bonus: hahahahaha.

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