Because living in harmony takes good manners!
Miss Yoga Manners is a yoga teacher possessed of an inalienable yet inexplicable primness. She drinks her organic tea out of good china. She pronounces Sanskrit like a Kennedy. She does NOT like it when mats are askew. She suffers the indignities of teaching certain poses (overlooking airborne derrieres and indecently spreadeagled legs) by focusing on seeing the light at the center of her students’ beings. She believes good manners are an expression of that innate divinity. She will happily answer your yoga etiquette questions, but only if you ask them nicely and with proper punctuation. She claims as her prerogative the right to ask the questions she wishes you would have asked.
Dear Ms. Yoga Manners,
I just joined a new yoga studio, and I’ve noticed a lot of guys take off their shirts when they practice. Should I take off my shirt, too?
Nooooo, I say! Please don’t do it! We have all taken off our shoes. Isn’t that enough? If it’s hot, wouldn’t the shirt make for a considerate sweat rag that would prevent at least some of your dew from dolloping onto your neighbor’s mat? And if it’s not hot, ask yourself, why do you want to take off your shirt in the first place?
a) I want to exhibit my toned physique.
b) My T-shirt annoys me by riding up around my shoulders in every downward-facing dog.
c) Shirtless, I not only feel as unconstrained as a child but more sensitive to the movement of my body through space, until eventually, I experience the diffusion of myself, the boundary blurring between my skin and the air around me until I sense myself to be both nothing and part of all things.
If a, definitely keep your shirt on. Better, make it a hair shirt and practice humility every with every itch. If b, find a better shirt! If c, take it off and enjoy the freedom of which I’m clearly just jealous.
Dear Ms. Yoga Manners,
Can I ask my yoga teacher out? I have a big crush on him, which is contributing to my difficulty in balance poses.
Maybe. First, soul-search, and be prepared for what might lurk on the dark side of your purusha. Why do you want to ask him out?
a) I ask all my teachers out.
b) I leave his class feeling empowered and aglow, and repeat what he says to myself throughout the week.
c) We have a personal connection before and after class in which we compare our Sanskrit tattoos and the mileage on our Priuses and exchange gluten-free recipes.
If a, absolutely not. It sounds like you’ve fallen into a samskara in which you prostrate yourself to authority figures, and this is a rut you don’t want to be in. Keep your mouth shut, and if you continue to fall over, stand next to a wall.
If b, probably not. It sounds like you like yoga, and not him at all!
If c, go for it! But a caveat: how much do you value his class? I’m sure you know that if he says “No” to you, you will feel awkward showing up at his class. But have you considered that if he says, “yes,” and the date or dates end up being lousy, you will also feel awkward showing up? And that if the dates are great, and you guys embark on a long and intense relationship, which ends in heartbreak and bitterness, you will probably not be going to class so much either? Should you decide that the value you place on possibility of romance with your yogi outweighs the value you ascribe to his class, by all means invite him to join you for a coconut water!
Ask Ms. Yoga Manners your questions below!
Author: Amber Burke
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Wiki Commons / public domain