Let’s unleash the unspeakables that taunt every yoga class.

Keeping it nice

11:44:AM 01/12/2010
Lisa Mitchell

Some yoga nights (and we all have plenty of them), your unwieldy attention flickers from the annoying jangle of someone’s bangles to the cut and curve of another’s new-season lululemon top, or maybe it’s the savoury pong of some predecessor’s footprint on your mat that distracts you.

BO, cascading boobs, too-teeny yogi jocks and unleashing your inner gas; let’s unleash the unspeakables that taunt every yoga class.

BE WHIFF-AWARE

Mary Magdalene washed Christ’s feet and dried them with her hair in the most beautiful display of humility and service. Hosing off sock swelter or street patina from sandalled feet before class is a basic courtesy, and you’ll feel fresher after a busy day too.

If body odour is your nemesis, then a quick wipe‘n’swipe with a wet cloth and deodorant is hardly excessive class prep and, what’s more, it’s the sign of a compassionate yogi who cares for their mat-side practitioners. Consider loofah-ing your armpits each morning to eliminate odorous dead skin cells, and the rest of your body to maintain your largest organ’s good order.

At one school, we were even encouraged to refrain from eating garlic and wearing perfume, so highly sensitised were many students. The more you refine your practice and diet, the more delicate your senses become, so even a light mist of Calvin Klein’s Eternity is liable to punch holes in someone’s brain and zip-lock their lungs. Be whiff-aware on the woofy and pretty smells.

DRESS: CLEAN, COVERED AND CASUAL

I turned up to my first Bikram yoga class in one-piece Speedo bathers and yoga "capri" pants – hilarious. I was a yo-granny among skimpy-hip yogis strung with filaments of lycra. At least I wasn’t "winking" at anyone like the girl in front of me, who was crammed in her rump-and-crotch-skimming lingerie. My clothes also soaked a good portion of my sweat, unlike the showers rained upon me from bare-skinned practitioners either side. (Use a towel at least!) My friend, Sal, deplored the cheek of one guy, whose sweaty, see-through yoga jocks seemed a tad disrespectful even to her chuckling sensibilities.

Scoop-neck tops that barely contain boobs, bum cracks and threadbare pants are distracting, though if you really must, inquire underground about the nude yoga movement (yes, it exists).

Know when to retire your gear, including sweat-ingrained apparel that ignites anew the scent of 100 yoga classes past ... ewww.

WE HEAR YOU

You know you’re out there, Ms Jangly Bangles and Mr I’ll-Sound-Your-House-Down with my tornado-like ujjayi breath. The slim argument is that the rest of the class might benefit through learning to focus beyond clinky arm-wear and overdone breath work, but better to scrape 'em off before you leave home and learn to "whisper" your ujjayi.

ETIQUETTE AND THE UNEXPECTED

Someone is going to cry. Now these might be restrained tears, or the clam shell of grief, cracked wide open reverberating from wall to wall. Working regularly with your cellular structure will begin to release the emotional gunk. Have the heart to know that one day it could be you and do your very best not to stare. Send a quiet healing prayer, offer a comforting hand if appropriate, or perhaps a tissue.

And yes, someone is going to fart. Loudly. In the quietest possible moment. The windy-popper will likely find it humiliating, and at least one classmate will find it hilarious. Teachers usually quickly move everyone past it with a barrage of instruction, but if they don’t, relax in the knowledge that the yogic fart is virtually an asana in itself – let’s call it "wind-releasing posture" or "organ-shifting sequence". The body must have its release!

Lisa Mitchell is a hatha yoga teacher, relaxation instructor and freelance writer/editor who specialises in holistic wellbeing. Join blog chat on this article at http://lisa-mitch.blogspot.com


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