Tales from the Yoga Mat
By Ashley Robinson
I’ve gotten back into going to yoga – mostly – in the past few weeks. And while I love the practice of yoga, the elation carrying you out of a good workout and that 24-hour willowiness, I don’t always love my fellow yogis.
I know. I know. I know! The point of yoga is to be one, love your neighbor, blah blah blah. But seriously, sometimes I feel like an island of reason and normalcy in a studio-sea of sweating loonies lacking social graces.
My yoga instructors would be appalled to know I am so conscious of others in the class as I seek to fall into my Pranayama (breathing) and get into the flow. I have found that because I am so focused, the slightest distractions wreck me, my senses are so broadened that the guy sweating in the far corner is a direct offense to my system.
I walked into class the other night, noting immediately that the crowd for the evening class would not be crowded. You can tell by the number of people waiting outside of the studio, clamoring to get in and set up their mat. After the previous class had ended, we all rushed in, pushing and shoving to find our realm of peace.
Getting into the studio is always a joke, particularly for a yoga studio. Why are we fighting to be the first one in – myself included? What was that about the journey, not the destination? Reminds me of circling the parking lot looking for the closest spot to the front entrance to the gym.
Once inside the studio, the walls, windows and very breathing air drenched with sweat, I set up my mat far from other associates. I’m claustrophobic, and I don’t mean that in a “I don’t like crowds” kind of way. I mean that in a “I will cap your ass if you even appear to encroach my wide berth of personal space.”
I understand that in a popular yoga studio, the floor space becomes limited. I’m not naïve, I’ve been in the best of classes where mats were touching and personal space was nil. But I also am very conscious of distribution of space. So, when I set my mat down with ample room throughout the entire studio and a girl walked in and basically threw her mat down within centimeters of my mat, I quickly moved my mat over a foot and a half.
She then moved her mat over toward mine.
I sighed. I moved my mat further away again.
She moved her mat over again, too!
Aaah, look lady, I’m moving away from you. There is tons of square footage open for you. Please don’t invade my space until the room fills up.
In the end, I did have to scoot over toward her to allow room for another yogi, and I was ok with that. I’m not totally crazy. RIGHT?!
As we moved through the flow of the class, at one breaking point, the instructor asked the class to let out a “lion’s breathe” to release pent up … air? … and instead of everyone just letting out louder than normal breathes, one DUDE let out an MGM-worthy roar. It was so loud, so distracting. His wife next to him started laughing, probably thinking it was precious. No one else laughed. I’m sure we all shared the opinion that it was annoying as hell. When the instructor asked us to again breathe like a lion, DUDE did it again.
I have found that men in yoga classes, in general, tend to be attention getters. Their breathing is always louder than everyone else. Of course, we’re supposed to be breathing louder than normal for others to hear within ear-shot, but if every dude in the class sounds like Darth Vader on ‘roids, that’s just outrageous.
Maybe I’m too high-maintenance for yoga …
Despite all these distractions, yoga is still yoga. The mat is your world for those 75 minutes and all that’s matters. Kind of.