According to Devon Spencer-Smith, yoga instructor at the Rise Movement studio in Los Angeles (Twilight star 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 just aren’t in the mood for the whole soul-loving-searching thing.
Ohm or Um
Why it’s an issue: Ohm can be a turnoff. The humming rhythmic vibration generally leaves first timers either in a fit of giggles, choking or speechless.
The origin of the ohm sound comes from Sanskrit and has no, as many believe, 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, yoga instructor at the Yoga Works studio in Los Angeles.
Solution: Most people lack self-awareness and are not aware they are too loud. Kim says the teacher should create an environment that minimizes those opportunities. “If doing the ohm really embarrasses you, then do a very quiet one under your breath,” he suggests.
Why it’s an issue: Passing wind in public is bad enough. It’s even worse when it happens during a silent yoga class.
“I shouldn’t have had those tacos last night,” is a genuine class quote. “If a student passes gas, ignore it or you risk embarrassing them,” says Kim. “Some poses trigger the release of gas, especially twists and inversions that upset digestion.”
Some women may experience vaginal flatulence. Spencer-Smith explains how this can occur when air is pushed into the vagina. “It can be very embarrassing and difficult to control,” she explains.
Solution: Avoid eating two to three hours before a class. And relax. Sometimes the anxiety over trying not to fart makes it happen.
Why it’s an issue: You got there an hour early to secure the best mat spot—and then IMN (irritating mat neighbour) arrives five minutes into the class, puts their mat an inch from yours and blocks your entire view while wedging their toes in your face.
Solution: The teacher should lay down the law. “It’s only fair to have a 15-minute rule, after which people aren’t allowed in,” says Kim. Barring that, ask them to be careful—and wish them namaste afterward.