With yoga on the rise, more and more people are stepping into classes than ever before.
In fact, A study by Ipsos Public Affairs on behalf of Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance shows that 74% of practitioners are newbies and have been practicing yoga for five years or less.
One of my most embarrassing moments was when I took my mother’s favorite yoga class.
To my dismay, she proudly announced to the other students that I was an instructor. (I prefer to remain anonymous, so other people don’t have an expectation of me that I can take my ankle and place it behind my head.)
At the end of the very relaxing and restorative class, I was lying on the floor in savasana and heard the instructor ring her chimes. I always ring my chimes and then talk my students out of their meditation, helping them to begin with small, slow movements, so I was waiting for instructions. And waiting. And waiting.
When I finally opened my eyes (wondering what was taking so long?) I looked up and saw the rest of the class all standing up and staring at me. Apparently this instructor does not talk her students out of meditation.
So what are the 10 most awkward things that can happen in a yoga class?
1. You’re facing the wrong way or are backward.
This is pretty common for new yogis who feel uncomfortable sticking their derriere up in the air so they will often turn and face the back of the room. And now they are backwards.
2. You can’t stop crying (or sneezing, or coughing, or hiccuping).
These uncontrollable physical reactions sometimes come out of nowhere. Sometimes we spend so much of our time taking care of others and moving at such a fast pace, that a yoga class can be the only time for self-examination.
So as we move and stretch to release the physical tension in our bodies, we release emotional tensions too. If this happens to you, embrace it, and let it go!
3. You can’t stop laughing.
Yes, some of the poses are pretty silly (lion’s breath or dead bug) and definitely not something you’d do on a regular basis in a class full of strangers.
And the more you try to stop, the harder it is to stop laughing.
My friend Marianne had to actually leave a yoga class when the instructor told her students to stand on one leg while rotating their arms in circular motions in opposite directions. For some reason this tickled her funny bone and the giggles wouldn’t stop. With tears streaming down her face, she quietly excused herself from the class.
4. Body odors (yours or others’).
I once had a student who was a true yoga hippie. She arrived with her dreadlocks and dirty feet and certainly didn’t wear any deodorant. I loved this woman’s freestyle spirit but I watched the faces of the other students, knowing they were inwardly groaning when she placed her mat next to theirs.
There are also many opportunities to get a whiff of your own scents in certain poses as you lift your arms, reaching toward the sky or in butterfly pose, pressing your feet together while leaning over. Deep belly breaths, anyone?
Twists are great for this. And I like to remind my students: yoga is great for letting go of those things that no longer serve you – whether it is a tight muscle, stress, and yes – even gas.
6. Yoga pant issues.
I regretfully admit camel toe happens to me all the time. Particularly when coming from sunflowers (a wide legged plié squat) and then stepping back to the front of the mat.
Or worst yet – another wardrobe malfunction – a rip in your seams. My advice: inspect your pants thoroughly before coming to class. Otherwise, it can be quite a distraction – for both you and your fellow yogis.
7. Falling over.
Many yoga poses require some balance, but if you’re not engaging your core (or simply lean too far in any direction), you might find yourself closer to the ground than you expected.
This is pretty normal for any yogi, especially when you’re not feeling centered or grounded. Just try not to knock over anyone else in the process!
8. Falling asleep during savasana (and snoring).
Savasana, or Final Relaxation, is meditation and done at the end of the class.
For some people, it’s the hardest part of the class – to be present in the moment. However, for those who need a little more rest in their lives, it’s easy to slip into la-la land when being still.
Waking yourself up with a snort is embarrassing. Or if the person on the mat next to you is snoring, try not to laugh (see item #3).
Standing with legs spread open in poses such as standing straddle seem to open up those lady parts and allow some air to flow in.
As you relax or squeeze those muscles in complimentary poses – the air compresses and noises happen. The best you can do is try to gently ease out the air, making this expellation as quiet as possible.
10. Passing of gas.
As the saying goes “There are two types of people in a yoga class: those who have farted and those who will.”