Ten (More) Characters You May Encounter in Yoga Class.

Via Julia Lee
on Oct 24, 2010
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Original ten here, more characters here.

1. “The sweater” – You can recognize him almost as soon as he unfurls his mat. What used to be blue is now stained black as a result of many, many sweaty practice sessions. You look on in horror as people slip and fall from the trail he leaves from the practice room to the shower. The poor student who cleans the studio gets a sinking feeling in her stomach when he walks through the door.

2. “The namast-delayer” – This individual makes a point of pausing a few moments before joining in the final “Namaste”, so that everyone can notice just how spiritual he is. “Naaammmmaaaasssttteeeeeeee,” he booms, bowing deeply and enunciating each syllable for maximum effect. He often remains seated with his eyes closed muttering in Sanskrit while everyone packs up.

3. “The newbie” – It’s quite clear that this girl decided to try yoga because Jennifer Aniston mentioned it on Oprah, and “she has like, really toned arms, and stuff.” Her mat is still in its plastic packaging when she enters the practice room, and she darts furtive looks at everyone around her for guidance on how to proceed. After class, she will often turn wide-eyed to the person beside her and say something along the lines of, “I never knew yoga was so hard!”

4. “The creeper” – This man shows up to class every once in a while in an effort to scope out “hot girls.” His bros tell him that yoga chicks are really bendy, and he is impressed. He saunters in nonchalantly and will use pickup lines like, “So…do you come here often?”…unaware that generally speaking, Ashtanga yoga is a daily practice.

5. “The senior citizen” – This woman looks like she is old enough to be your great-great-great-grandmother. Her sinewy muscles bulge beneath her papery skin. You worry for her health and safety, but as class begins you realize that she is in fact much more advanced than you are. She deftly flows from Crow to Handstand as you fall flat on your face. You are humbled.

5. “The crier” – The woman seems to use yoga class as an alternative for therapy. She will often begin sniffling by the third Sun Salutation and tears will be streaming down her face as she moves into Pigeon pose. Regulars at the studio know to give her some space in the practice room so she can “let her emotions out.” She often approaches the teacher after class and will thank him tearfully.

6. “The jock” – Quarterback of the college football team, team captain of the lacrosse team and a regular at the gym, this boy heard that yoga is a great complement to sports and decided to try it out. Similar to the newbie, he appears out of his element as he enters the studio in his dri-fit Underarmour shirt and boardshorts. He sheds his shirt within the first minute of class and pulls a muscle while struggling to touch his toes. He is unaccustomed to not excelling at any physical activity he tries.

7. “The blogger” – Armed with notebook in hand, the blogger can often be found scribbling notes throughout practice to write about later, in her yoga blog. She hops from studio to studio writing up reviews and trying out new styles to write about in her blog. She chats up people in the studio and tells them about her blog. You wonder if she even has a job, as her life revolves solely around yoga…and blogging.

8. “The laugher” – The laugher often attends class with a friend who is equally as giggly. You can instantly tell when they enter the practice room, as they disrupt your Savasana with their whispered snorts. When one of them falls out of a balance posture, they will both begin to laugh uncontrollably. “Shhhh!” someone hisses, which only makes them laugh even harder.

9. “The klutz” – The problem child of yoga class, this student has difficulty following instruction. When the teacher says “right”, this girl goes left, setting off a domino effect of confusion. You hold a Seated Prayer Twist for what feels like an eternity as the teacher goes over and attempts to adjust this student, before finally moving onto the next pose.

10. “The keener” – The man always places his mat front row and center. He has devoted his entire life to yoga and takes his practice very, very seriously. He can be seen wearing loose-fitting cotton clothing and a mala around his neck. He has been working privately with the teacher to perfect his handstand transitions and carries around a pocket version of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras at all times.


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.


40 Responses to “Ten (More) Characters You May Encounter in Yoga Class.”

  1. ricky says:

    Which one are you?

  2. timful says:

    11. "The typecaster" – This person spends her time checking out other people in the class, trying to figure out which pigeonhole they fit in to. Once in a while she is stumped, and must expand her list. Thus she diminishes her world to remain master of it.

  3. elephantjournal says:

    Katy J Funny! I'd like to see a list of yoga teachers one might encounter. I actually once had a teacher call me a show-off just for doing a pose he told us to do! I told him I'm not a show-off. I just really love yoga. I think he was just jealous cause he couldn't fully express the asana he was trying to teach. He has since unfriended me. *sigh* You know, it takes every type of person to make the world keep spinning.

  4. elephantjournal says:

    The self-serious yogi who judges others for judging others and, in so doing, forgets to enjoy life or have a sense of humor about it…causing Patanjali to roll over in his savasana.

  5. fivefootwo says:

    And… The senior citizen- overweight- klutz! There are hybrids, you know? This list is both funny and perceptive. I know yoga teachers are deep inside thankful that all of us pains in the butt show up for class, or how else can you all make some money?

  6. timful says:

    I was just smarting about what a nasty sweater I am. The dawning realization that is why I always have so much space around my mat while everyone else is jammed together.

  7. Ctw says:

    I am just grateful she is not my yoga teacher. Every pose is a perfect pose—and who cares why people are doing yoga–so many different reasons!

  8. Yogini# says:

    Many teachers are looking for classes full of keeners. No matter where. But the world doesn't roll that way … lol.

  9. Mariellen says:

    "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." Really, Julia, are you sure?

  10. Amanda says:

    I really didn't enjoy this…I feel as though people are being made fun of for their physical and emotional differences when they come out and participating in group yoga practice. I'd just as soon practice on my own…

  11. metalbuddha says:

    This makes me a little hesitant to try yoga…

  12. Freda says:

    Think I would have trouble taking a class with you since I know you would be typing and judging me.Not the best formula for getting students.

  13. timful says:

    Yes, when we run people down our ego wins a small victory, but in the long run we find ourselves living in a world full of run down people. Better to surround yourself with amazing people. Look up, not down. Your spirit follows your gaze.

  14. Lisa B says:

    I bet you are actually a very sweet person – but this is kinda mean. I know I know, it's a fine line between funny and mean, I am always on the wrong side of it myself. It's like looking in a mirror – maybe we should make a pact to be more careful to stay on the "kind side" of that line …

  15. elephantjournal says:

    Amen, brother. Me, too. I sweat so much I've never needed to go to hot yoga…

  16. namastehon says:

    I intend to become the "senior citizen", especially when I have to go to the doctor's office (dwipada shirshasana for the gyn exam?)

  17. I think it would behoove some people to go back and read the original 10 characters, particularly the conclusion at the end of that article. I saw the humor in this, and can see myself in many of the "characters" – I actually enjoy laughing at myself, particularly the parts of me which I'd rather let go, because I think part of my growth in this life will happen by opening myself up to the way I see myself reflected back at me through the "characters" I encounter every day. That mirror is awfully hard to look in sometimes.

  18. 13thflooreleveators says:

    You do realize he probably "unfriended" you because you defensively decided he was "jealous" of you? I'm a bit shocked by how delusional this comment is.

  19. ecocompassionchurch says:

    seems like it's all a waste of time to me.

  20. Not a fan, as I am trying desperately to create the idea that yoga is for EveryBody. ANd I know that EveryBody walks thru the door with his or her own story and our job as guides is to create a place that is safe and healing. I admit some of these students are a challenge, but it is easy to teach a class full of advanced students, where there is no distraction.
    One of my favorite classes I teach is in the lobby of a hospital where I have students come late, leave early, old, young, flexible, inflexible, some laugh at themselves, others just like to be there and they all genuinely enjoy the practice.
    to think that a teacher is stereotyping and making fun of is a bit fearful and not a class I would care to be in

  21. Don says:

    I have to admit when I saw "The Sweater" my first thought was "I've never seen anyone wear a sweater to class." doh!

  22. KelsiC says:

    Thanks for sharing that story!! I would love to see EJ have more stories about actual yoga students instead of reductive caricatures. I'll definitely think of your student next time I am feeling self-conscious in class 🙂

  23. integralhack says:

    I think people are taking your post too seriously, Julia. I am "the klutz" quite often. If I can't laugh when I send a foam block careening across the room or lose balance due to my wandering drishti, I'd have to cry after all–and I don't want to be "the crier!" 🙂

  24. Charlotte says:

    Kind of evokes a "Mister Rogers" image.

  25. Charlotte says:

    Hi Julia, I've really enjoyed many of your other articles here at ej. I ended up being a bit uncomfortable with this one, but I do want to say that on the whole I've very much appreciated the your spirit and writing.

  26. […] the classes are super full of poor college kids using a first class free coupon, and you have to be right next to all sorts of people. Good thing I have a huge Manduka mat—it’s what Lady Gaga uses. […]

  27. laportama says:

    … as in ALL of the yamas and niyamas, and pratyahara.

  28. Katherine says:

    Perhaps those of you that found this article offensive should read the first installment that concludes with: “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.”

    The point of the article is acceptance with humor.
    I enjoyed both articles, thank you!

  29. YesuDas says:

    Do you ever, ever say anything positive, 13thfloorelevators?

  30. Alec says:

    I'm a sweater. Like a ridiculous, insane, more than everyone else sweater. Not really sure what I am supposed to do about it. I have a mat towel and a wipe off towel. I station myself in the corner. I apologies to the clean up crew when I can. I am self conscious about it, but the yoga is more important than my self consciousness. Yoga has healed me in so many ways. It would be pretty crappy if your funny little list made someone who is less sure of their self walk away from yoga because the "student cleaner gets sick just looking at them".

  31. onesadhaka says:

    LOL, gotta love duality…that's the core of yoga, right…or is that the core of bhoga?

  32. onesadhaka says:


  33. onesadhaka says:

    say it, sister!

  34. onesadhaka says:

    and this is just the problem with posts like this. The person who wrote this is showing the opposite of yoga. Honestly, it is mostly safe in the studio, and people like these keep to themselves until time to blog about what they didn't learn in yoga (union and togetherness, yoga's definition)

  35. onesadhaka says:

    kinda mean? just kinda?

  36. Bon says:

    “As rain falls equally on the just and the unjust, do not burden your heart with judgements but rain your kindness equally on all. ”
    ― Gautama Buddha

  37. Jen says:

    I'm a "crier". I have clinical depression and can't decide when I will or won't burst into tears. I do yoga because it's really nice to have an hour or so where I don't have to deal with depressive thoughts, but sometimes I can't help crying. I try to put my mat up the back of the class so I don't disturb everyone if I need to duck into the bathrooms and wash my face and calm down. I try to wear clothing that covers my self-harm scars and talk quietly if I need to ask a question and not draw attention to myself and never give any sign that I'm not a "normal" person and I thought that at least in yoga class people would be less likely to be upset by me and to trash-talk me later. It's a bit discouraging to know that my lifelong mental illness is always going to stigmatise me, even in a room full of people looking to better themselves through mindfulness and acceptance.

  38. Sarah says:

    I'm in the same boat as you, Jen- self-harm scars and all. Thankfully I've found a couple of studios where I feel safe and accepted and not stigmatized, but I have to admit, this article kind of stung. I get that it's supposed to be funny, that we shouldn't take ourselves so seriously, etc, etc. But for me, my yoga mat is the one place where I let myself be completely vulnerable- because it's one of a few places where I feel completely safe and accepted. So I can't help but take this a little personally, to be stereotyped as a "crier", and essentially judged and made fun of for showing up on my mat with all my baggage, and letting the asanas do the cleansing work that may be uncomfortable and, yes, may cause me to cry. I won't apologize for being my authentic self. I do enough of that off of my mat.

  39. Laua says:

    This is why I practice yoga in my living room at 5:00 in the morning in my underwear! I can sweat, fall, blow my nose, try new things, laugh, or cry without judgment. No mean girls here to label my "character".

  40. julian says:

    as somebody wise once said "if you haven't broken down and cried in your practice it hasn't really started yet" don't be disheartened by this internet garbage, just because someone posted it doesn't make it true