By Emily McLaughlin
You must be better at yoga because you are moaning, grunting, showing off and passing gas in class, right?
Ok… let me explain. In class last night, a few interesting things happened — paying mind to certain (natural) bodily functions and noises in particular. I understand that yoga is all about cleansing and getting in touch with your body, but should boundaries be drawn when the people next to you, behind you and in front of you are one foot away?
In my transformation from an amateur to a regular yogini, there are a few things I have learned to get over i.e. panting, sweaty neighbors and the glorified, expert yoga goddesses a few mats away. There are, however, a few things I have not gotten over quite yet.
If you are newer to yoga and haven’t gotten to this point of ‘I’m over it‘ (I haven’t), you might become distracted often in class. Even regular yogis who have practiced for decades might find themselves easily distracted some nights… it just happens.
- For example, you might be annoyed with the person moaning next to you. I’m all about ouija breathing, but I’m not into the moaning. In class, I find this distracting and hard to zone out. Those doing the moaning might be having a sensational in-body experience, but their experience sometimes takes me out of my own for a brief time. This is something you will get over if you stay true to your practice and stay in-body… I’m not completely there all the time.
- Another hard-to-get-over distraction in class is when you neighbor, well… farts. Is passing gas multiple time in class without saying, “excuse me,” okay? There was one person who just kept on doing it in class last night. In the moment, I was thinking that if they are comfortable enough to let it rip in class, they should be confident enough to take the blame and say, ‘pardon me.’ I highly doubt that they are soooooo into practice that they didn’t notice their release. I know it’s natural, and that they can’t help it with those twists, but… hm… don’t know how long it will be before I get over this one.
- Yesterday, my yoga instructor said, “You know, we recommend a shower before class for times like these.” At that moment we were flipping our one-legged dogs over to a backbend, each of us getting closer and closer to our neighbors. Being stinky during yoga makes your neighbors even more uncomfortable. I keep deodorant in my car, my gym bag, my desk at work, my purse…. pretty much everywhere… in the hopes that I don’t bother my neighbors with an uncomfortable stench. The smell, however, is not what bothers me the most (usually the incense is more powerful) — rather, when the sticky person’s sweat flies my way, tainting my lululemon mat.
- Skimpy clothing bothers me on occasion. My eyes don’t usually wander too far off my mat, but if they do and they catch a glimpse of your tacky see-through pants, belly dancer crop-top, barely-there shorts or bum crack, I’m going to be distracted.
I know, I know… I sound like the snobbiest of snobs. The reality is — I just don’t understand my yoga practice completely. I’m not over it and I’m not totally into it. I’ve always been into yoga for the fitness aspect, i.e. building strength, burning fat and getting my sweat on, but I am not completely in tune with the more emotional, in-body aspect of yoga.
Bottom line, yoga is about being selfless and being selfish — I’ll explain. For an hour or so, yogis surrender their bodies and minds to the practice. This helps us focus on the good, shutting out our problems outside of class. We take this selflessness into our daily lives and control our negative emotions with simple stretches and breathing techniques, offering good vibes to others. It’s easy to do this because, before we know it, we will be able to get back on the mat and practice again.
At the same time, this is very selfish. We take an hour or more to forget about everyone and everything except ourselves and our bodies. These two opposing ideas — selflessness and selfishness — work well together.
With practice, I hope to get to a point where I am over it and into it. Until now, I’ll take these aforementioned distractions with a grain of salt and a big ouija breath.
… This weekend.