Because living in harmony takes good manners!
Miss Yoga Manners pinches her cheeks before admitting gentlemen callers into her parlor. Despite making a practice of loosening her corset when she does yoga, she brings her smelling salts to class in case she loses consciousness in savasana. She inks her yoga etiquette advice in calligraphy while wearing white lace gloves.
Dear Miss Yoga Manners,
Firstly, thank you for all you do for humanity. Secondly, a woman just walked across my mat…in shoes…before class. What could I have done instead of glaring?
Miss Yoga Manners, in her infinite wisdom, would say, “Ah-hem. I’d be careful, dear, there are some fussy types in here who really don’t like it when you step on their mat, especially in shoes. Who think of a yoga mat as a kind of portable sacred space.”
That way, you are casting yourself as a person helping her out, on her side against the sticklers. And you are on her side, aren’t you? Wasn’t there a time when you didn’t know not to step on yoga mats? A time when they looked not a little like doormats, like rug-runners, on which people have historically walked, and even wiped their shod feet?
You might additionally offer: “Have you found the place where we put shoes yet?”
Dear Miss Yoga Manners,
What would you, in your infinite wisdom, do about tooting in yoga class?
It is not surprising that this should happen, especially considering that some poses were designed to expel gas (apanasana, for instance, means “wind-relieving pose”). Perhaps what is remarkable is that it doesn’t happen more.
When gas is passed in class I am teaching, being Miss Yoga Manners, I ignore it, if at all possible. If not, I titter and blush, or in moments of greater composure, say, “Oh, bodies! Aren’t they grand?” and thank the many, many-limbed gods that this not my personal problem, as my bath in the Yamuna River succeeded in liberating me from certain corporal indignities and the vicissitudes of material existence.
Expert yoga teachers who have more casual miens than Miss Yoga Manners have been known to say things like, “Let it all go!” or “Glad it wasn’t me for a change!” or, “I’m glad someone in here is breathing!” It seems important to avoid eye contact while saying these things, so as not to seem to be pinning an accusation on any one person.
However, Miss Yoga Manners would like to say this to the inveterate yoga-class tooters: if you constantly find yourself in a flatulent state in class, it might be hard for you, in your discomfort, to connect with your inner divinity. This suffering is of the unnecessary kind. If you changed your practice time to two to three hours after eating, might the problem dissipate? Or if you simply re-examined the foods you are mixing together, and perhaps reconsidered the fruit, bean, beer and ice-cream combo, might you find that there is no problem at all?
Ayurveda, the Indian system of medicine, which sees digestion as the wellspring for all health, has a good deal to say about which foods should not be combined. Check out this article for some advice.
As to what cannot be prevented and should not be repressed: let us practice acceptance en route to transcendence. The fart, after all, may serve as a metaphor for our own existence. Its foulness mirrors the foulness from whence we came—we, too, come from the muck of the body. We rise out of it to affect other human beings, before dissolving into the ether, disappearing into the great Brahmanic field.
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Author: Amber Burke
Editor: Travis May