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behaviors, culture, humor, observations, personal space, words, yoga

And now, a note on personal space.

Ah, the heat. The silence, the blessed absence of phones ringing, and the little pink-and-orange Lululemon mat that will be the extent of my world for the next 90 minutes.

Hot yoga is something that I whole-heartedly endorse. It makes me feel better, makes me crave such oddities as steamed spinach, and I would be lying if I said there weren’t noticeable physical benefits to sweating it out in a hot, humid room a couple of times a week. And I’ll be darned if that heat isn’t the most energizing thing…see for yourself sometime. Read about some of the benefits of hot yoga here, and find some tips for class here.

I like to arrive for class early so I have time to unwind, loosen up and open up my third eye. Or whatever. But I really like to arrive early so I can get my favorite spot: back row, left side of the room, centered in one of the floor-to-ceiling mirrors- or as close to it as I can manage- I haven’t quite mastered the art of “looking inside for balance” and still wobble uncontrollably sometimes if I lose sight of myself.

The studio where I practice is large and can accommodate around 25 people comfortably, without awkward closeness and unwarranted touching of clammy hands. I make an effort to go to classes that are less crowded classes on Mondays are notoriously packed (people seem to be most ambitious on Mondays), and the 4:30 class is also crowded so I like to go to the class at 5 in the afternoon and on Fridays. By my reckoning, most people haven’t had time to rush from work to yoga by 5, and only a handful of people have maintained the pledge they made Monday morning to work out all week.

And so here I am. Sometimes excited, other times I admittedly would rather be laying on the couch with a cupcake, but either way I’ve made it to class. I spread out my mat, lay down and close my eyes and listen to other people trickle in. I tend to open my eyes periodically so I don’t doze off and so I can spy on other students and guard my territory.

One fine afternoon not too long ago, I was lying in repose wishing I was watching Cash Cab at home, but imagining how lovely I would feel after class, when I detected movement to my immediate right. I opened my eyes to investigate and found, to my everlasting surprise, that someone had plopped down approximately 1.5 feet away from me. In a virtually empty studio, this individual decided that the best spot in the whole place was directly next to one of the three other occupants of the room.

Now, I’m tall-ish- 5’7″, and when, during the course of the class I find myself straddling my mat in a ginormous 4-foot side-step with arms spread, I (along with everyone else in the room), take up a considerable amount of space. On this particular day, triangle pose was especially challenging for me because I kept bumping sweaty, clammy, wet body parts- mainly feet and hands, but still- with my neighbor. This is also the reason I prefer less crowded classes; the concept of “staggering” hasn’t quite caught on here.

After class I escaped the too-close confines in which I found myself, I went to retrieve my belongings only to find another grievous overstep of personal space: someone had removed and discarded their hot pink Hanky Panky undies on top of my shoes.

Used, and yes, on top of my shoes.

I nearly died.

Luckily for me, there are two locations near where I live, so I’ve cut back on classes at the studio where undies rain from the locker room sky and sweat is exchanged without batting an eyelash.

I’m guessing that I’m not the only one who has experienced odd, humorous or questionable behavior at a yoga class, after all you’re writhing around and contorting your body with a room full of anonymous students, housewives and guys trying to pick up girls. Let me know if you’ve had any particularly entertaining encounters at class, I’d love to hear ’em!


About Rachel



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