Where are your manners? Part two
By Jennifer Jarrett
Recently I wrote about a lack of manners in yoga. Today I’d like to get more specific. Here’s the deal…
There seems to be a sneaky, yet pervasive self-centeredness that is running rampant in today’s world, making its way into people’s lives, wreaking all sorts of havoc, and leaving little to no space for basic manners and common courtesy. Unfortunately, I see that this same attitude is making its way into yoga classes. Some people (although of course not all) come into the yoga room the same way they walk into a coffee shop or a restaurant or gym — on a mission to get what it is they came for, sometimes with complete disregard and utter inconsideration for those around them.
My friend tells a story about practicing in a studio where they used a lot of props. The moment the teacher would ask people to get their props, everyone would essentially bum-rush the cabinet, clamoring over each other to get the coveted bolster or block. This drove my friend crazy, so in the midst of pushy panic and subtle “I can’t let anyone see because I’m a yogi” elbow jabs, he started handing out blocks and straps to people. Elbows dropped and the pushing stopped. Everyone received what they needed for the practice and it all happened in a much more civilized and kind (operative word) manner.
If you must throw the proverbial elbow, do it out there, but please don’t bring that into yoga. When you walk into the yoga room, be the best version of yourself. Stand taller. Be more aware. Be kind and considerate. Really practice the practice.
My friend and teacher, Rusty Wells, frequently says “We use this practice to raise ourselves up, and when we raise ourselves up, we raise our families up, and when we raise our families up, we raise our communities up.” Basically, line up your behavior and your actions in a way that allows you to serve your greater good, and then line that up with how to serve the greater good of all beings everywhere. It’s that simple. And, if we do that with honesty and kindness and compassion, what harm can come from it?
I believe in the goodness of people. I truly do. I also believe that yoga is so much more than the physical practice of getting stretchier and stronger. In fact, I believe that the true relevance of the practice has nothing to do with hamstrings or triceps. I believe that it is a place where we can learn how to take care of ourselves so that we can learn how to take care of each other. We learn that we are not separate individuals who need to scramble over each other and step on each other’s toes to get more and do more and be more, but instead we discover that we really are all connected. We share space in this life, and by paying attention to what we each bring into this space, we can take responsibility and choose to act and behave in a way that does good and creates good instead of creating harm. There is enough harm and hurt in the world. Let’s just do right by each other and do better for each other. Basic manners and common courtesy seem as good a place to start as any.
Without further ado, here are a few ways to bring manners back into the yoga room…
Don’t pass gas during class.
I understand that things get moving during the practice, but either engage mula bandha or excuse yourself from the room until you can get the situation under control. Basic courtesy 101. I, and I assume the others around you as well, have absolutely no interest in knowing what you had for dinner last night, so kindly keep it to yourself.
This means your body, your clothes and your mat. If you can smell yourself, the people around you can smell you, too. Practicing next to someone who has body odor or stinky clothes is absolutely torturous. I know that pratyahara is part of the practice, but when you are breathing through your nose and the person next to you smells like salami inside of dirty gym socks, it makes it really hard to withdraw any sense at all, let alone stay in the room for the remainder of the class. Please, wash your body, your mat and your clothes. Apply deodorant. Wash your armpits in the sink before class. Do whatever you need to do to be and smell clean. Please.
Stop emailing, texting, Facebooking, Pinteresting, Words With Friends-ing, or whatever else it is that you are doing on your phone during class.
There are emergencies that might need immediate attention, but unless someone’s heart is going to stop beating if you stop emailing, please turn your ringer off and put your phone away. If it’s not an emergency, it can wait… and you can, too. Yes, you can. And if you can’t, then go do something else, because a public yoga class just isn’t the place for this.
If you need to go the bathroom during class, please exit the room mindfully.
If you have to go the bathroom, go to the bathroom, but there is no need to run out of the room, unless of course there is an absolute need to run. Please do your best to respect that you are walking over people who are practicing, and not take them out of their practice and to the bathroom with you. It’s as if people freak out thinking that everyone is watching them as they leave to go the bathroom, and they just want to get out of that line of sight as fast as possible. News flash…people are going to be much more likely to notice you if you are running! Just be cool. Walk at a normal pace.
Lay your mat down gently — like you are putting a baby down for a nap.
Often when people come into class (especially when they come in late), they unroll their mat mid-air, snapping it onto the ground, which creates this really loud smack sound. You don’t have to do this. Just put your mat on the ground and unroll it.
If your drishti involves staring at someone else, including the teacher, find another drishti.
It’s just creepy, and it is a violation of someone else’s space and sense of comfort and security. We shouldn’t have to worry about being gawked at or ogled in the yoga room, of all places.
Notice where you put your feet.
Stay off of other people’s mats as much as possible, especially if you go to the bathroom during class. Notice where your toes go in the poses, too. If the teacher asks you to take your leg way up to the sky in downdog, do it, but for the love of Shiva, watch where your foot goes. If you actually look, you can see whether or not your foot is going to make contact with the face of the person behind you. Look! Pay attention and don’t kick anyone in the face. Don’t just close your eyes and pretend like you don’t know what’s going on.
Do not leave the room during savasana.
If you need to leave early, then leave before savasana. For many people, this is the most sacred and necessary part of the practice. Respect this. I don’t care how quiet and discreet you think you are, you’re not quiet and discreet.
The only appropriate place to blow your nose is in a tissue. While still an Indiana girl at heart who craves wide open spaces and hot, humid summers, Jennifer has ironically spent the last ten years living the quintessential urban life in San Francisco; a place that virtually has no summer. She is a writer, yoga teacher, mama to her dog baby Ruby, and lover of life, friendship, travel, laughter, pedicures and peanut butter. Even though she has her own mega-peeves about the “yoga world”, she is still madly and deeply, yet very honestly, in love with yoga itself. She teaches at Urban Flow, a donation based studio that shares the practice of Bhakti Flow, yoga of love and devotion. www.jenniferjarrettyoga.com
No exceptions. Not your hand. Not your towel. And definitely not your rental towel that someone else will be using next class. Enough said.
About Jennifer Jarrett
While still an Indiana girl at heart who craves wide open spaces and hot, humid summers, Jennifer has ironically spent the last ten years living the quintessential urban life in San Francisco; a place that virtually has no summer. She is a writer, yoga teacher, mama to her dog baby Ruby, and lover of life, friendship, travel, laughter, pedicures and peanut butter. Even though she has her own mega-peeves about the “yoga world”, she is still madly and deeply, yet very honestly, in love with yoga itself. She teaches at Urban Flow, a donation based studio that shares the practice of Bhakti Flow, yoga of love and devotion. www.jenniferjarrettyoga.com