The downside of downward dog

Your instructor has likely seen (and heard) it all.

According to Devon Spencer-Smith, yoga instructor at the Rise Movement studio in Los Angeles (Kristen Stewart is a fan), the best way to deal with an embarrassing incident during yoga class is to laugh it off. “Yoga is a moving meditation that allows you to let go of a lot of things in life. Getting annoyed or agitated adds aggressiveness and ego to your practice, which defies its purpose,” she says. Nevertheless, sometimes you aren’t in the mood for the whole soul-loving-searching thing.

1. You’re embarrassed to make a sound

That “Ohm” in the beginning can leave first timers in a fit of giggles.

Solution: The origin of the sound comes from Sanskrit and actually has no religious connotations. Its purpose is to mentally bring everyone into and out of the class. “It’s what helps you stay focused and aware of your breath,” says David Kim, instructor at L.A.’s YogaWorks studio. “If doing the ‘ohm’ really embarrasses you, then do a very quiet one under your breath,” Kim suggests. 

2. You make an, erm, unexpected noise

Passing wind in public is bad enough. It’s even worse when it happens during a silent yoga class.

Solution: “If a student passes gas, ignore it,” says Kim. “Some poses trigger the release of gas, especially twists and inversions that upset digestion.” And if it’s you you’re worried about, avoid eating two to three hours before a class, and relax: The anxiety over trying not to fart can make it happen.

3. The irritating mat neighbor

You get there an hour early to secure the best mat spot, and five minutes into the class, the IMN arrives, puts his mat an inch from yours, block your entire view and wedges his toes in your face.
Solution: The teacher should lay down the law. “It’s only fair to have a 15-minute rule, after which the people aren’t allowed in,” says Kim. Barring that, ask them to be careful — and wish them namaste afterward.

Yoga no-nos

Never do the following:

1. Leave your cell phone on. You know this. How come your neighbor doesn’t?
2. Skip shavasana (the last meditative state). People come to yoga class with a gym-like focus — they want to leave once the “workout” is over and skip the shavasana meditation. This final relaxation pose is very important to restore the nervous system and calm your mind.   
3. Step on someone’s mat. Only you know where your feet have been.


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