Where are your manners? Part two

Published on March 7, 2012 by      Print
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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.

Be clean.
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.
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

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  1. Kate says:

    There is a very long list of things I’d love to add (please refrain from coming to class if you have a nasty foot fungus) but THE most infuriating (and sadly more and more common) seems to be SNORING during savasana! It’s just beyond rude.

    • Joslyn Hamilton says:

      The snoring! Oy vey. It’s the worst.

    • 1Bodhisattva says:

      Awww, I think it’s funny when someone snores a little during savasana. Not semi-truck level snoring but I do think it’s cool when someone is able to actually fall asleep at that point. I mean, how great is that!

  2. Leah says:

    I liked where you were going in the first post. You were striking at some real internal issues of kindness and people not recognizing their connectedness with others and the world as a whole. You even sort of touched on that in the first example in this post–the rushing, grasping and grabbing for blocks. That addressed something hurried and inconsiderate, two traits I find in the yoga studio myself.

    Then, to my mild annoyance, you launched into your personal pet peeves about what people do in yoga class–rehashing the same things everyone says (FitSugar posted this mere weeks ago! http://www.fitsugar.com/What-Bothers-Yoga-Instructors-21730803)

    I liked where you were going. I was ready for a semi-thoughtful analysis people’s competitive, hurried, unkind traits in yoga class. And then you just got catty. I don’t do any of those things you listed, but I’m wondering what else you’re holding back and how you’d judge me if I were in class.

    • Matthew says:

      Hi Leah.
      I feel like Jennifer’s article was very thoughtful and kind and without judgement.

      It’s been my experience that some folks find it more helpful to have things outlined clearly like this.

      I go to yoga fairly regularly about 5 to 6 times a week. I’ve been kicked a lot. I’ve encountered horrible BO a lot. I’ve seen people do their own yoga series for 90 minutes! It’s distracting and, in my opinion, very rude.

      I feel it’s a bit of a double standard to not allow the teacher to discuss their issues too. The sign of a good relationship is the ability for open, honest, and thoughtful dialogue and communication. I’m happy she feels comfortable doing so.

      Rock on.

  3. Rose says:

    I agree about the feet and the mat-snapping, but doesn’t everyone fart in class once in a while? It’s an accident; we’re mortified; it’s not something to shame anyone about. Maybe if it’s repetitive farting with seemingly no attempt at control — but please try to forgive the occasional accidental fart.

    • Jennifer Jarrett says:

      Dear Rose,
      I have absolute compassion for the person who has accidental fart during class! It can be so mortifying! In fact, I can think of few things that are more embarrassing during a class. I was more speaking to the people who maybe have some warning before it happens. The accidental fart is a totally different story!

  4. Claude Genest says:

    Students should have more awareness and practice more kindness. Agreed.
    Now what about those supposedly TEACHING them ? How is it that this phenomenon is so rampant and widespread? ( I myself have ceased going to class because I couldn’t stand the bumrush for floor space any longer).
    How hard would it be for an aware teacher, with a gentle reminder, to put an end to this behavior ? In the same way that one looks to management to address employee issues, so too might we consider just what is being taught in those multi-thousand dollar “certifications”.
    As to treading on people’s mats on your way to the bathroom, something I’ve been guilty of – what choice do we have when management, with its ever present profit motive, allows rooms to get so incredibly packed ? How many people end up feeling excluded by management’s decision to be inclusive and take all comers?

  5. Jeremy K says:

    That’s great. You’ve been very reasonable with these issues.
    I was in a class once when a teacher stopped the class and said: Hey, who farted?
    I’m not sure who should have been more embarrassed – the student or the teacher. I’ve practiced next to students who think they need to expel everything from their anus and their nose during class. It’s pretty gross.
    Gas happens, but that’s why we have bandhas.
    As far as the the savasana snoring. I’ve seen teachers tap the foot of the snorer and that wakes them up without startling or embarrassing them.
    I love that you brought up the part about staying for savasana. I used to practice at a studio where half the class left during savasana. It felt really strange to lose that class connection for the last few moments.
    Thanks for bringing all of this up. I think people just may not realize what is appropriate. Teachers sometimes need to teach manners. Thank you for having the insight and inclination to do so. It’s probably not a pretty task and I bet it doesn’t even pay that well!
    But, dear teacher, you have MY gratitude!

    • eric says:

      Thanks Jeremy, I think you are right. I think the point of the article is mindfulness. Yoga is a celebration of many things, and meditation is one of them. Mindfulness is a type of meditation, and also leads to other human fundamentals like loving your neighbor, and being considerate to those around you. People can nit-pick over the details as much as they like but personally, i like hearing about things that might bother people – it’s just one way i try to improve myself and become a better person. I learn about opposites, and what i can do in certain situations (like hand a tissue to someone sneezing so they don’t have to blow into a towel). And don’t forget, a smile can go a long way…

      I had a mentor who used to say, be considerate, not polite. Thank you Jennifer, for bringing my bhakti to life.

      • Jamie says:

        Interesting suggestion – to use feedback about your behavior in yoga class to develop conscientiousness and consideration – I like it!

  6. recoveringyogi says:

    Just a quick note from the editor: vitriolic comments with no constructive purpose will be deleted. This is not that kind of forum. Respect.

  7. 1Bodhisattva says:

    1. Try to stay of other’s mats but if the room is crowded, don’t freak out if someone’s toes touches your mat.

    Sorry but I practice in some crowded studios. My ‘home’ studio (where I did my initial YTT) gets so crowded that there is sometimes a couple of inches between mats – and some of us love it when it gets like that. There’s almost no way to 100 percent keep your toes to yourself. I do, however, agree with taking care of where your limbs go and how fast when the room is that crowded.

    2. Perfume/cologne/etc. Some people come straight from work and put smell-good stuff on early in the day. A little leftover cologne is understandable. Please don’t apply it just before you come to class. Flip-side: Don’t freak out that you might be able to smell my deoderant. It’s a “public” venue. If you’re offended by ALL smells, get a clothespin.

    3. Leave the room quietly, too. Yes, snapping your mat and such upon getting settled is rude. So is making a ton of noise and being disruptive upon exit. If you’re leaving before the rest of the people in the room, quietly roll your mat and exit. (Pet peeve: People who roll their mats by dragging them across the low carpet often present in a bikram room while the rest of the people in the room are still in savasana.)

    Yes, these things irritate me. Yes, I’m still working on tolerance and not letting the little things get to me. Ohm!

    • Jennifer Jarrett says:

      Thank you for your comments and for adding the part about not freaking out if someone touches your mat! Indeed, it can be very difficult to maneuver in a crowded room and sometimes it is just impossible to walk without having to step on someone’s mat. We can only do the best we can do. To me, mindfulness just always seems to be the defining factor.

  8. Jamie says:

    I’m blessed to practice at a studio with very little of this behavior. Actually, I’ve seen very little of this behavior in the 20 years I’ve practiced yoga. And I like Neal Pollack’s take on these issues:


    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those “it’s all good” folks who’s relaxed in the face of even the most obnoxious behavior. I’m actually kind of a “Miss Manners” type in my daily life. I’ve had many “constructive” conversations with our next door neighbors over their barking dogs, for example (and they have actually worked to control the barking, I’m glad to say). But, I love being able to let go of that mindset in yoga – and I feel like it helps me practice loosening up in a way that helps me in my daily interactions outside of class.

    • Joslyn Hamilton says:

      Thanks, Jamie, for sharing this Neil Pollack column. I read Neil’s book Stretch and found it thoroughly entertaining. What Neil is talking about in his column — essentially, using the things that bug you in yoga as obstacles to surmount on your way to enlightenment (or whatever) — is something yoga teachers love to talk about when trying to get students to stay present in a room. And it’s a really valid perspective. A yoga class is a microcosm of life, an opportunity to stay present and equanamous even in the face of that which annoys the eff out of you.

      And it’s true: you’ll never ever get to the point where nothing bugs you. There are zillions of things to pet peeve about in any one yoga class, especially the big, crowded, sweaty ones. But I think there is also a level of pragmatism we need to think about here. For some of us, each yoga class is not necessarily a spiritual opportunity for redemption and Buddhist ladder-climbing. Sometimes, a yoga class is just a nice place to unwind after a long day, or an opportunity to squeeze a workout into a busy schedule. Yes, it’s true! Yoga can be JUST a workout — and that’s okay! More than anything, when you practice in a busy studio, it’s a community. And isn’t it fair to ask that the members of a community cooperate to make the experience as pleasant as possible for one another?

      This discussion reminds me of a naive belief I used to have about meditation. I once thought that a “good” meditator could meditate anywhere: in traffic, on the subway, in a crashing airplane. I thought, why do people meditate in a quiet, distraction-free room? Isn’t the whole point to be able to tune out reality? But when I learned more about mindfulness, and actually asked this question of some senior teachers, I realized that even Buddhists try to set themselves up for success as much as possible when they sit down on their cushions. So, they choose the most distraction-free, quiet, calm environment possible. Meditation and yoga are not just about surmounting obstacles. They are a refuge from stressful life.

      • Cassandra says:

        Thank you for this!

      • Jamie says:

        Yes, good points. It’s also my understanding that meditation teachers try to create reduced-distraction environments to help their students develop _concentration_, which can also be critical in yoga class. The flip side is that it’s impossible for any teacher to creation a distraction _free_ environment, and that’s where the students’ practice of equanimity comes in.

        There’s an old Buddhist story about a novice monk who complained about the constant sound of traffic passing outside the monastery. The abbot said, “Yes, but are they coming in and bothering you, or are you going out and bothering them?” I really had an “ah ha” moment the first time I heard that story!

        Also for every smelly student who never showers there is another who struggles so with body odor that he has to shower and change his clothes twice a day (an experience I had with a student I had in a non-yoga setting). So in my opinion _as the student_ it is best to practice non-judgement and compassion. _As the teacher_ it is important for you to create boundaries and educate – as well as encourage your students to practice equanimity and non-judgment. Probably I could have thought that distinction through better before my previous comment. Thanks for following up with me.

  9. Dan says:

    Apparently, I’m not the only one who doesn’t understand how Mula bandha can prevent the passing of gas: http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/2417.

    Deodorants, as long as they’re not stinky and/or likely to cause allergic reactions in others seem fine, but you definitely want to stay away from antiperspirants when you exercise!

  10. lisa says:

    People actually use or leave on cell phones during class?? wtf?! The teacher just need to lay down the law here, “no cell phones on in the class”. Is that so hard?

    The list above makes me not want to go to a yoga class ever again.

  11. Feists says:

    Sometimes passing gas happens. Happens to the best of us. Thank Shiva we’re all adults. I’ve yet to be in a class where this happens and someone has burst out laughing or said something to the poor person this happened to. It’s a natural bodily function. It happens!! The one pet peeve I have is; the person, male or female who sounds like they’re having an orgasm during the whole class. Even if you are, your neighbors, and the whole class for that matter do not want to hear it. Please save the noise for your home practice.

  12. Grace says:

    I think it would be nice if teachers would help get the class organized spacially before the class starts. You generally know how full one of your classes will be, and if people are prone to coming in late. Why not have some extra mat spaces ready for the late-comers? I don’t think there’s any way to prevent lateness, but it shouldn’t have to interrupt the people who were on time.

    (I get irritated if there’s a silent meditation but someone keeps doing ujjayi breathing.)

    • Jenifer says:

      Definitely something that I do.

      I measured the classroom and students get 20 inches between mats (left, right and in between top/bottom –I have two rows in my room), and then 16 inches from the walls (this allowed the full 20 inches between front and back rows).

      This way — with this exact configuration — the room fits 26 people.

      Now, I’m — personally — comfortable with 3 inches or less between mats, 6 inches from the wall, and 6 inches in between front/back. Which means that if I set up my studio this way, I could easily fit another 10 mats or so.

      But, the people where I teach are not comfortable with this level of “closeness.” In fact, many of them feel that their 3 ft 9 inches by 7 ft 3 inches is not enough! Most of them would prefer to cap the class at 20 people — giving each person an additional 32 inches of space (nearly 3 more feet of space — mostly left-to- right is their preference).

      I have to manage two competing issues: client space needs and value of the space itself from a financial stand point (costs). And, I keep prices purposefully low ($10 for 45 minute classes if you are taking one class a week for 4 consecutive weeks; $12 drop in) so that students can maintain a consistent practice.

      And, of course, a teacher can individually chose to cap a class lower than the 26, but I’ve capped the class at 26 (even though, technically, we could fit more in) — and if a class is consistently full (and I consider “full” at 18-20), then it’s time to add a class to the schedule to meet demand.

      So far, I haven’t had any classes at 26. I’ve had several at 22 — and several more are at 15-18 consistently. And such, we are adding classes to meet the demand.

      But, it’s absolutely a viable way of handling things — making sure people have enough space, I try to put newbies together in the same section where they can better see, and of course, have space near the door for later-comers to sneak in.

  13. Jane says:

    Okay, I’m going to ask for an answer to a question that may be just too obvious. I have another problem. I’d estimate that about 1/3 of students arrive either just as class is starting or even later. Then they don’t take the time to sign in to the class and end up stepping over others as they lay out their mats and get their props. I think this is very disruptive. As I understand, most studios don’t accommodate latecomers. I’d like to lock the door at the start of the class. (We’re in a small church so I lock the door anyway so that passersby don’t walk in.) It was suggested that I allow 5-10 min for latecomers.

    I feel that students should be present for the start of the class and it should start at the advertised time. I don’t assume that the other students can stay beyond the end of class to get their full 1.5 hour or would be willing to cut short the class. I’ve requested that students arrive early to ‘settle into their mats’ but I still have people arriving 10 min late.

    What to do?

    • Jenifer says:

      There are lots of elements to this.

      First, if you are going to accommodate them, then make it so that the things that bother you most about the late-coming won’t bother you.

      You mention that they step over people and mats to get props and lay out their mats. In the alternative, keep the area nearest to the door free of other students (except those who may need to leave to the toilet and know they may need to — e.g., when I was pregnant, yoga classes made me need to pee, so I’d put myself near the door) so that they can come in and set their mat down by the door.

      Likewise, having a clip board where they can sign in and an envelope or box where they can pay right there also helps, as well as a pile of props so that they can gather them as they come into the room, rather than having to climb over people to do it.

      If you don’t want people coming late, simply state it in your marketing and then also assert it to the people who are coming in late consistently. Assert to them that it’s disruptive to the class, and if they can’t make it to class on time, perhaps they should consider another class time. Or, put a cap on what constitutes “late.” If you think that 10 minutes is too much but 3-5 minutes is fine, then say so.

      In the alternative to this, you might consider a different class time — if the majority or a large portion of your students (say 1/3) are late, it may be better to advertise and start the class 15 minutes later, and perhaps even cut the class down by 15 minutes (1 hr 15 minute classes) so that it ends at the same time, but starts later to accommodate the students if they all need it to end at a certain time, but they can’t make it work for the regular time.

      People are busy. They often do the best that they can. You start on time and end on time. People will learn.

  14. Jenifer says:

    I’m not exactly sure how to comment on this. So, I’ll just share an experience.

    After I had my baby, my vagina changed. Before, it was rare for a gassy noise to come from there. Now, it comes with every movement in my practice, and usually, also while I am holding still in a posture.

    I have only taken a handful of classes since I had my baby (who is currently 3.5) because of this issue. Not because I’m trying to be polite.

    But because I’ve been shamed out of several classrooms — during class — with chants of “mula bandha!” and how rude and distracting I was being.

    The reality is that there is nothing wrong with this (or gas). My friend handled it best. She laughed and said “welcome to mommy-land!” And everyone laughed too (as did I), and while I made noise ALL through that class (it happened to be about 6 weeks postpartum at the time), no one was upset, shaming, or anything else. It was totally cool that what was happening was happening. Total acceptance.

    And I think we all learned a lot that day about humor, acceptance, and noisy vaginas.

    But I’ve been to many others where the teachers and students are giving me the stink eye, embarrassed, and in one instance asked me to leave because I was “too distracting.”

    I suppose that being a mom, with a noisy vagina, I’m no longer allowed to attend? My noisy body is just too rude? Too distracting?

    I’m blessed that I have a firmly rooted home practice (and have for 31 years), but for students who are not so firmly rooted, my heart hurts for how they may be treated.

    Already, a woman is embarrassed by that noise. And then, if she is treated like I was, she is shamed for what is natural. And if she had a baby, and what is natural has increased to extreme proportions (i.e., during menses, it would happen once or twice during class, but after having a baby, it is — literally — non stop during practice, in particular if i attempt to use mula bandha. if i don’t use mula bandha, it makes much less noise), the embarrassment and shame will wash over her in waves.

    And then there’s my student who has severe stomach issues. Between IBS and colitis, the man can’t catch a break. He’s in pain a lot, and to help manage the pain, he’s taking yoga (and meditation) classes. Yes, he’s also on medications, a strict diet, and is near the door in case he needs to make a run to the toilet (quietly and respectfully), but you — if you are his yoga neighbor or teacher — will get to hear every comment of his stomach during yoga class.

    What is rude is not accepting that people are people and that this practice — in a group setting — is not about you. You are in a group, which means you’ll have to accept a lot of things, like someone’s favorite perfume that you dislike, or that the person is a smoker and so their clothes smell like smoke (but hey, she’s trying to quit, and yoga is helping). You’re going to have to put up with gas, with vagina monologues, burps and snoring. You might even have to live with someone sneezing into their towel.

    What is rude is a teacher shaming someone for being human. What is rude is students giving fellow students the stink eye for being human.

    What is polite is to simply accept that this will happen, that this is life. And in particular, it’s life in yoga class. Things get moving in yoga class, and if we reach a point of deep relaxation at the end of the practice — and also don’t get a lot of sleep anyway due to our stressful lives, then sleep is going to happen.

    That’s just yoga class. And it’s a bit strange to expect it to be otherwise.

    • Cassandra says:

      I wasn’t sure if was going to comment. I already said nice job to part 1. But now, I feel I must! Jenifer, your vagina can talk all during class, and I couldn’t care less, because you can’t help it….I absolutely loathe the gray area excuse of “being human: as an excuse for selfishness and lack of consideration. I do not have to accept what *can be helped*. It’s not my favorite thing when the person next to me silently emits a rotten egg smell the whole time, but knowing someone who can’t help it has given me a lot of grace. A person can help whether or not they are wearing perfume. Just as a restaurant has the right to “no shirt, no shoes, no service” a studio has a right to encourage (strongly) that their students be considerate about scents. There’s sinks, there’s showers at my studio. If you’re particularly smelly…why not use them? You can’t help having gas, you can help what you put on. I like what Jeremy and Eric say about mindfulness…I’ve brought it up here myself. Many things would be non-issues if people would be mindful of the fact that it is a community; and be mindful of what you can and cannot help. Noses run. Fine. Bring a tissue. Gas happens. Fine. Noises happen. Fine. Orgasms…do you really not realize you are the only one in the room moaning? People wiping their noses in their towel are not always wiping snot…so maybe save the stink eye for something really serious, like someone’s personal parts falling out of their outfit. I cannot believe this had not been mentioned! Be mindful of the fact that when you’re wearing big floppy shorts, big floppy things fall out in certain postures. This goes for men and women.
      I see Jenifer’s point…let’s have some grace for each other. Let’s not be so sensitive, especially toward things that can’t be helped. On the other hand…let’s stop using excuses for being selfish little self-absorbed prigs. I hate that it turns into a who is judging who battle. I’m not judging you as a worthy human being if you snap your mat onto the ground, you’re still worthy, you’re just obnoxious at that moment. How about you not snap your mat, and I’ll not judge you? And in the mean time, how about we both get over it and realize we’re all works in progress, without using cop outs and excuses?

    • Jennifer Jarrett says:

      Dear Jenifer,

      First let me apologize for any hurt or harm that this created. It was absolutely not my intention and I am very sorry if it came across that I was trying to shame people for being human. It is absolutely the last thing I would want to do.

      Secondly, I am sorry for your the experience that you had when a teacher asked you to leave the class because he/she thought you were “too distracting”. Yoga should be a safe place for everyone. It should be a place of refuge and comfort, not shame and embarrassment. It should be a place that we can go to find respite and renewal, to give ourselves an extra dose of love and maybe even to heal a part of ourselves that could use a little extra attention. It should not be a place that makes us feel insecure and maybe even unworthy. I absolutely agree with you that it should be a place for everyone and I love your friends response “welcome to mommy-land.” We are all human and we have these physical bodies that most certainly do physical things.

      I think that it is absolutely wonderful that your friend who suffers from IBS and colitis is turning to yoga as a place to find a bit of comfort. I am sorry for all that he is struggling with and truly hope that coming to the mat for asana and for meditation helps to bring some ease and relief into his life.

      Please know that my comment about passing gas was only directed to people who are able to control the situation a bit, people who might take advantage of the anonymity that being in a crowded room allows.

      I also recognize and accept and love that this practice brings people together and that it calls us to be accepting of each other. I was just simply asking that we all be respectful and courteous in the process as well and to maybe notice that there might be small ways that we can all do better to try to create an environment that is friendly for everyone.

      Again, my apologies for offending.

      • Jenifer says:

        I’m not offended, really. I think that part of my point — after so many words — was the fact that we can’t know.

        I don’t know if a person is rudely farting or accidentally farting or not farting at all and instead her vagina is noisy because she had a baby 3 year ago and her body healed in unexpected ways.

        With this, a lot of how this is handled — and the judgment around it — comes from the teacher. If the teacher judges and shames the student, then it gives permission to others students to be falsely judgmental.

        From here, I think therefore the “blame” is in the wrong place. Students are blaming fellow students for being “bad mannered.” But, this is a cultural issue — usually — not an individual student issue.

        As a caveat, I know that people can be rude and obnoxious. I’m probably rude and obnoxious.

        But that begin said, the culture of the studio is designed and created by the studio owners and the teachers.

        When I started taking classes, studios had posted rules of etiquette. Things like “no jewelry, no perfumes, no shoes, no talking in the classroom, etc.” Likewise, when normal bodily functions happened, the teacher would speak to it in a way that would make it “no big deal” — regardless of whether the person could “help it” or “had reason to know about it” or if it was “accidental.”

        What I’m noticing is that many teachers seem to think that instead of them being able to openly influence this, and instead are simply “victims” of the fact that others are “rude.”

        The reality is no. And, the same is true for students as well — you, too, can impact culture.

        Tired of students getting into brawls over props? hand out props to each person as you greet them, or set up a “prop line” where they pass it down to the end of the line. Or, as a student, hand the prop to the person behind you before getting your own, and keep doing that until everyone has props.

        Guess what? Problem solved. People will learn to NOT behave aggressively about props.

        Don’t want cell phones in the classroom? Teachers, tell your students this. I work in an area where a lot of office workers come to class. They all have several cell phones (personal and office). Rule? Unless you are on call (in which case you can have your cell on vibrate by your mat), the cell phones are to be turned off. If there is a new person in the classroom, I remind everyone before the class starts. If you are a student, just gently say to the person using a phone “Hi! In this studio, cell phones are turned off during class.” And guess what? People will do it. BUt, this one is really a teacher’s responsibility.

        Mat snapping? I don’t really think this is at issue. Never has been for me, and I don’t think that most people try to do this. But, the option is for teachers to have mats set out (this is what I do. props are included in the price of class at our studio) or can simply post the rule “please quietly set up your space, including when you set out your mat.”

        By clearly stating the rules, and by making accommodations for people where they are, over time, the culture shifts and everyone treats people and the space mindfully.

        But this means that SOMEONE has to take responsibility for the culture, and the right person to do that? The studio owner and teachers.

        I don’t see any way to get too upset about students misbehaving. If they are, it’s because no one has told them that it is inappropriate to use their cell phone in class. And I will tell you, that has only happened ONCE in my classroom, and I went and took the phone from the person and said “no cell phones in class” and turned it off (the person in question was texting, I’d already stated the rules about turning off cell phones, and she said she was concerned about her family member. When she was texting about Twilight, I turned the phone off). She came back the next time and turned her phone off.

        And, if the students are complaining about the students misbehaving, then the teacher needs to step up. The teacher is the one in the know here. . . most students have no clue about any of this — true or not.

        They see the yoga room these days as similar to a gym, where people will text on the treadmill. It’s not that – but the only way we can tell and show people that it’s not that is to. . . tell and show them that.

        • Tori says:

          Tired of students getting into brawls over props?

          I do agree with the substantive part of your comment as well, but I’m writing just to add in my own two (hopefully practical) cents on the props business. I’ve been to studios where there was a “Suggested Props” note near the entrance, and each instructor could add various cards (this one was done up like a velcro board) as appropriate. This way, as each student trickled in, they could pick up the props as they set up (which tended to happen in small groups rather than a frenzied stampede).

          From what I saw, this was a particularly nice move on the studio’s part because it meant that every instructor used the board to help establish a considerate community. At least for me, it was reassuring to know that I could go to not-my-regular class at the studio and have some expectation of similar etiquette norms. Basically, when expectations are clearly and consistently communicated (for bits that are within people’s control), it’s way easier for students to follow through.

    • Concerned Yogi says:

      Dear Confused “Jenifer”,

      I believe what you are speaking of should be rule #10 no queafing. Also a disturbing occurrence of air leaving the body associated with women only. This too should be refrained from during class however it sounds like what you speak of is a medical issue that should be discussed with a medical professional not “passed” onto those in class.

      God Speed,

      Concerned Yogi

  15. Eugenia says:

    I believe much of what’s being discussed here is an excellent example of how the more you practice yoga, the more the practice extends itself to the rest of your life.

    In fact it’s near impossible to practice 3-4-5x per week and NOT become more aware of your eating, washing, and social habits. Practicing yoga does sensitize you to your tendencies (towards yourself, towards others, and towards the world in which you live).

    For example:

    1. yoga makes you sweat deep–so whatever you’ve ingested in food and drugs, you will smell like the next time you practice yoga. This awareness has instigated big changes in many practitioners diets. The science of Ayurveda studies this extensively–and it’s worth a review.

    2. learn which foods make you gassy. know your bowel cycles. learn the kriyas. follow the thousand year old prescribed suggestion of not eating a few hours prior to practicing.

    3. realize it’s convenient and worth it to have a spare set of yoga mat/yogitoes.

    When you practice yoga, how you treat yourself and others becomes much more apparent. You’ll be able to see where calibrations can be made. And that’s a great thing on and off the mat!

  16. Feists says:


  17. Feists says:

    Oops, computer glitch. What I was going to say is, you weren’t being offensive. You just pointed out some problem areas. And the fact that we need to be mindful of our yoga journey and mindful of the other yogis we encounter on our yoga journey.

  18. Leslie says:

    These just look like pet peeves to me…….telling someone to hold a fart or run away to release it elsewhere………..In a yoga class, practice yoga; if something annoys you about someone else in class you might want to take a look at your reaction!
    Although the article is well written the true essence of yoga is lost.

    • Joe says:

      I don’t think there is anything “un-yogic” about asking people to observe some common courtesies. It’s pretty basic Kindergarten “playing well together” stuff. And “requesting civility” is not mutually exclusive with “being responsible for one’s own reaction when someone is uncivil despite the request”.

      • Joe says:

        Oh, and it’s definitely not mutually exclusive with having some understanding and compassion that even when people want to be civil that things can still happen involuntarily, and also with not embarrassing someone when things do happen involuntarily.

    • BeaNs says:

      I agree. Lots of kvetching going on here.

      My half sister bathes as frequently as I do. Her clothes are as clean as mine are. But she has a different body chemistry than mine, and within a short amount of time after bathing, her body scent is distinct. She can bathe twice a day or three times or five; it doesn’t matter. Don’t tell me that she should see a doctor, she has already spent plenty of time and money in that way to no avail.

      I am in my late 40s and I find that my body, once reliable and predictable, is not any more. What I could eat fine yesterday is a problem today, either in terms of gas, bowel movement or stinking as it excretes through my sweat. Honestly, no one is showing up at your classes to fart up the place. And how is it that you know that the farting offender could control it if only he or she was willing? I guess I’m lucky in that my very first yoga teacher always told us that we should expect some body sounds as a result of the physical activity.

      And after Noisy Vagina Woman has seen her medical practitioner as per your admonition (and maybe more than one) and finds that she’s just going to be noisy from here on out, what do you suggest? Should she hide in shame forever?

      Oh, and that “rent-a-towel?” It should not be going out again until it has been washed. Sweat, spit, snot – it all washes out just the same. I find that despite my best efforts to keep a box of tissue never farther than arm’s length, my nose will turn into a faucet when I least expect it. But I hva found that after you change a diaper or two (or even wash a load) and a little snot won’t be the end of the world. And I don’t even have kids.

      If you have any kind of blood glucose issues at all, you don’t have a lot of choices about changing your meal schedule.

      Many people must come to yoga directly from work with no opportunity to shower or bathe. Many of us live in places where there is no choice of when we can attend. Out here in the hinterlands, we are lucky to have any yoga class to attend at all. Not everyone lives in a major metro area with a yoga studio on every corner next to the Char Buck$.

      As for me, I am more than happy to attend classes with the noisy and the other less than aesthetically perfect. I are they.

  19. Warriorsaint says:

    Nice to have some lively interaction on RY. Here is my take. A public yoga class is, well, public so courtesy and civility is expected. A good rule of thumb is if you would’t do (fill in the action) in a restaurant don’t do it in a yoga class. If you break any social mores expect some whithering looks. This is how a group schools it’s members as to what is and what isn’t appropriate behavior for THAT particular group.
    Now, when I go to my Muy Thai class there is lots of grunting, sweating, swearing, and the occasional flash of private body part. No one pays much mind. On props: where I teach Pilates I set any props out next to the mats when I prep the room for the class. Works for me.

  20. Tiffany says:


    You made a great point about people needing to learn their bowel movements. People tend to do go to yoga at a regular time, so why not change eating habits in order to avoid inconvenient gas passing during class.

    I don’t think jennifer is being rude. She is just expressing what many other people are feeling. We are living in a society where many people just don’t have consideration or awareness of other people around them. I was at yoga class the other day and one lady had brought an iPad in with her. Yoga is supposed to be a place of no distraction and time to connect with oneself. How can we do that when somebody’s iPad is laying right in front of your face? We can’t. You are around you all day, so you should be aware of your odors and actions, with that said, I think Jennifer is saying be more aware and if you are one of these people be aware that it does bother some others. So, respect your fellow man/ woman and try to avoid doing these thing as much as possible ( with the acception of an occasional slip up). Just don’t make inconsiderate behavior a habit.

  21. Catherine says:

    Ok!! what really! A fart… that is natural and totally unintentional!

    yoga makes you poop.. we all poop. A lot of the yogi positions massage the digestive system, and its healthy to gas every now and then. Its not good for your system to hold it in. That makes students uncomfortable for a teacher to be disgusted by such a thing.x

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