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

Via Waylon Lewis
on Sep 21, 2008
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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 [email protected]#$%^ 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.


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


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

  1. ashlee dunn says:

    I totally agree with the peeve of students skipping Savasana. When students shorten the time for this posture or completely leave early and skip it altogether..I find myself curious about what their intention for practice was all about.. Just my opinion and personal experience, but isn’t this pose the best part?

    Also I have never experienced students sipping lattes between poses here in Boulder, Waylon….have you been sneaking this in???:)

  2. admin says:

    The list of my faults is loooong, as even my momma would admit, but sipping lattes during yoga class has never been one of them. I too thought that ‘yoga class pet peeve’ (from an article in Body + Soul) was odd, as was the ‘chewing gum’ complaint.

    Aside from cell phones left on, skipping savasana and boys with torn Verve shorts and without underwear, my other main pet peeve would be folks who line their mats up right next to mine, so I can’t even put my arms out for a sun salute. Makes me feel like I’m losing my yoga class money’s worth. That said, from my Buddhist background, I know my “enemy is my greatest teacher”–in that such instances force me to breath, to become patient with myself and others, and to just plain relax.

  3. ashlee dunn says:

    When someone’s mat is too close, You could do as Richard suggests and just knock off their nose…This is actually being a good yogi neighbor as it helps them to find Nasagrai (nose) dristi.

  4. yeye says:

    Wonderful Way ~ I would add:

    – Leave your expectations at home. In my experience the people that have the most difficulties with yoga group practice are those who practice with expectations. With no expectations and no judgments about what you are experiencing, it will be your sensations about the practice who will guide you safely through asanas. With a mind free of expectations and judgments there is space for self-observations and evolution. With a practice free of expectations and judgments you leave space for compassion about the people practicing around you and they won’t bother you anymore regardless of how they choose to practice. With a practice free from expectations and judgments there will be space for your own vibrations. You’ll remain focused and aware. And in the process might learn a thing or two…just we do in life.
    Love, yeye

  5. admin says:

    John Cargile (Denver, CO) Yesterday at 8:36pm
    Guilty as charged for six of the 10, but I’m doing better. Today I was very guilty of one, but I was up all night …

  6. admin says:

    Kelly Romero Mikler (Sole Technology) Today at 1:10pm
    one more to add…the guy who goes “WHEW!” loudly or sighs heavily when coming out of a difficult pose. come on!

  7. Blake says:

    I agree with all of these, because all of these are both inconsiderate to your teacher and to the students who are taking the class. the students go there to do yoga and to learn to have a quite mind but how can you expect them to do that when you are doing one or all of these things. now personally i prefer yoga at home. i prefer it because it limits my distractions. But I also like to go to classes on occasion to either meet new people or to just get away.
    Blake T.

  8. Tamara Kerner says:

    First off…hilarious…and true!
    Worst thing I’ve ever witnessed….dude next to me puts his gum on the wood floor in front of his mat as class starts. Belches outloud and stares at me every chance he can get. My only satisfaction was knowing how sore he would be the next day as his ego guided him into advanced poses even I knew I wasn’t ready for after years of practicing.
    and then, i had to struggle with my own judgement party on my mat. (but i of course felt justified! ha)

  9. admin says:

    Alright, getting a little pervy Mr. Ray…I'm sure that's a biggg problem there for ya!

  10. ray says:

    & by the way…..the women that wear loose fitting shorts..& N0 underwear…..plz.get waxed.

  11. Katy says:

    I would add my biggest pet peeve – not respecting your neighbors’ personal space in crowded classes. Also, I’ve been guilty of #6, but usually only if the class is going over the scheduled time and I have to leave due to childcare considerations.

  12. Laura Dunn says:

    hilarious! Yes, we do not appreciate ogling whether it's happening to us or not! Remember your drisiti!

    Those cell phones crack me up as much as they are annoying. I've heard Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, and all manner of ringtones during class. It makes quite an impression in a mysore class…

    Too funny 🙂

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  15. midwestyogi says:

    As a teacher I encourage groaning, but only when releasing pigeon pose. I myself groan so I feel it is fun and fair to encourage my students to do the same. It feels good. But not in every pose!

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  17. cathywaveyoga says:

    I hope you re-up this.