May 10, 2011

How to Get Everyone in Your Yoga Class to Hate You in 10 Easy Steps. ~ Kristina Chandler

If you’ve been practicing yoga asana for any length of time, you know: people do annoying things in yoga class all the time. Lots of annoying things. Lots and lots of annoying things. Lots and lots and lots of annoying things.

Today I am here to tell you why, and (considerably more interesting) how. I know you don’t want to be left out.

Why would you want to irritate other people in your yoga class? We all have our reasons. As a yogi told me recently, don’t judge others for what they do; maybe it is exactly what they need to be doing at that moment. But I do judge you; I do it mostly for revenge.

Revenge? It’s a long story. There are other reasons, too…

Boredom. For a long time I went to the kind of class that’s the same every time. Can you guess which class that was? Hold on while I make myself a Japanese ham sandwich.


Okay, I’m back. I loved that class, but I got bored sometimes.

Also, sport. Maybe your ex’s new girlfriend is in your class and you want to screw with her. Can you do it without really trying?

Maybe you have had it with all of the mindfulness, already – mindful walking, mindful eating, blah.

At this point you are probably thinking, who is this insufferable, miserable person? I know, right?!  But I am not the only one. I’ve taken a lot of yoga classes over the years, and people are doing these things all over the place. Where do you think I got the ideas for this article?

Wake up, people. Yoga class isn’t just for yoga anymore. You now have options. You can multi-task.

If you are ready, I will tell you how. I have experience. I can advise you how to do it, without judgment.

Here we go.

1. Show up late.  Like, at least five minutes. This is a good one. Works great if you are mad at the teacher. Maybe she called you out on your mat last time (or a year ago, whatever) or when you started a pose early last class she took a moment to lecture you slowly on the importance of listening and staying with the class. I get it. Show up late. Every time. Let it be your trademark. I’m telling you right now, this is so annoying there is absolutely no way she won’t notice or be affected by it. Breezing in late also irks the other students (believe it, even though they won’t make eye contact with you), so if you’ve got a bee in your bonnet about someone else in the class, congrats, it’s a two-fer. (Multi-tasking!)

2. Place your mat directly in front of someone else’s. Particularly fitting if the person came in late last time, acted like you were invisible and placed their mat directly in front of yours. (“Oh, sorry, can you not see now?”) Awesome. Eye for an eye and all that.

You can put your mat to a lot of good use, actually. Consider placing it a few inches from another student in an otherwise empty room. Super weird, right? People do this, though. I used to be like, WTF? But now I’m like, Is that all you got? It’s some kind of mind game.

You could also unroll your mat so that the end flops directly onto someone else’s and sit down like it didn’t happen. Wait and see what they say. When they politely point out that your mat’s on top of theirs, say disinterestedly, “Oh, right. Can you move?” Yes. The person will hope your car flips over, which is what you want.

3. Wear dirty yoga clothes. You could also skip showering for 48 hours before class, but wearing dirty clothes works better and requires less ramp-up time. You should also mist yourself heavily with cologne in the parking lot (recommending Drakkar Noir here for maximum cloyingness) and pretend that helps. You know it’s super gross to wear dirty yoga clothes because the smell intensifies as class goes on, right? You know everyone can tell, right? Okay, just making sure. This isn’t my favorite choice inasmuch as you have to suffer along with everyone else, but if you’re okay with that, it is highly effective. People will give you dirty looks and a wide berth for years.

4. Wear short shorts with no underwear. Applies to both genders and is self-explanatory.

5. Talk to the person next to you at full volume. Yoga classes are kind of like church, where only the pastor is supposed to talk. (Or is this only in churches for white people?) Anyway, next time you’re in downward dog, strike up a conversation with the person next to you. Maybe give them some helpful yoga tips (“Middle fingers are supposed to be parallel, silly!”) Who doesn’t like helpful yoga tips from their neighbor in yoga class? Almost everyone.

6.   Blow your nose, cough, burp, clear your throat, you name it. Not just once; a lot. Continuously. Hunh-HUHHHHH. There was a student at a Las Vegas studio who would clear her throat in class every couple of minutes for a 90-minute class. Hunh-HUHHHHH. Hunh-HUHHHHHHH. Sometimes she would make a coarse hawking noise and spit into her hand towel. HWAAAAAAK! I’m not making this up. At first I thought she was just congested and I thought, okay, revolting, but whatever. Two months later people wanted to kill her. It’s because of her that I don’t go to class if I have a cough or am congested. (See, I can be nice.) This all happened eight years ago. Eight years! See how long-lasting your efforts could be?

7. Fidget! Fidget! Fidget! This is an easy tip that anyone can do. Move around. Straighten your towel. Fix your top. Take a lap around the room, arms akimbo, panting. Shift your mat slightly to one side and check out the new view. If you end up blocking someone in the row behind you, who cares? They are just back row people anyway. Fiddle with your hair. Pull it out and re-tie it in a new, pointless way every five minutes. Drink water every four minutes. Pour it yourself while everyone is trying to balance. You get the picture. No one will be able to concentrate except on strangling you.

8. Flaunt your stuff. I heard a yoga sage say recently, “Yoga doesn’t want you to change. Yoga wants you to be happy with wherever you are, right now.” Obviously, this person hasn’t been to an American yoga class recently. Everyone wants to get better, but no one wants to be reminded they need improvement. That’s where you come in. You set up in the front row in your tiny yoga outfit, grinning broadly, demonstrating for the teacher when asked, holding every pose five seconds too long to be sure all eyes are on you. You are a yoga narcissist. Narcissus died staring at his reflection and no one cared.

9. Raise your hand and ask questions during class. I encourage you to improvise as I’m sure you are old hat at this by now, but “When are we going to take savasana?” might be well-placed if asked of the teacher during the first ten minutes of class. Also, “Doesn’t Bikram have a copyright on this asana now?”

10. Take savasana. Of course you are going to take savasana. I don’t mean with everyone else. I mean, do a few postures at the start of class and then lie down as everyone begins five sets of Surya Namaskar. Take a nap. Snore lightly.

These have all really happened to me. And I will tell you with absolute confidence: they work.

You may be saying to yourself, Okay, so now I know how to really annoy someone in yoga class. Finally! But to what end?

Do any of these unbearable behaviors steer the other students and teacher unflinchingly toward the proper manners that I am trying to teach them, albeit passive-aggressively?

Will they see the error of what I am doing and resolve never to do the same themselves?

You may be surprised to know that the answer to this is, without question, no. Hardly ever, actually. So be prepared for that.

Be prepared to get completely caught up in it all, your feathers ruffled by someone else’s prior insensitivities, your class ruined by your distraction in ruining someone else’s. No one will ever thank you for your efforts. No one will ever commend you for your ingenuity. Few people will ever learn. And you will probably spoil your own class for the sake of the cause. This is why I gave all of this up long ago. I could have told you all of that at the beginning. Should I have?

Kristina Chandler is a lawyer and certified yoga teacher who began practicing yoga in 1994 to rehab an injury, fell in love and has been hitting the mat ever since. She’s practiced yoga all over the globe, from Bali to Sweden and many places in between. Check out her other musings on yoga at http://www.examiner.com/yoga-travel-in-las-vegas/kristina-chandler.

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