Tip Tuesday: Dealing With Embarrassing Moments in Yoga
Tip Tuesday is a weekly feature where I offer a few yoga tips that have worked for me in the hopes that they can help you too.
It’s never a good sign when you’re beginning to teach a class and realize you have a hole in the crotch of your pants.
It was an early morning yoga class near where my parents live so I’d spent the night at their house. In the morning scramble, I realized I’d forgotten my yoga pants. Luckily my younger sister had a number of her clothes around. I lucked out and found a pair of running pants that I threw on. Unbeknownst to me, these were the pair the dog had chewed a hole in and in a much unfortunate place. Let’s just say it seemed like one of the longest classes I’ve ever taught.
Embarrassing moments definitely happen in yoga and here’s some suggestions on dealing with some common ones:
What do I do if my cell phone goes off in class?
We’ve all been there. The best thing to do is to quietly silence your phone and turn your ringer off. If your text message goes off and it is set to continue to beep periodically afterwards, make sure you clear it. To make sure it doesn’t happen again, make silencing your phone part of your pre-yoga ritual: unroll your mat, fill your water bottle, turn off your phone.
I sweat profusely during class and I’m worried that I smell.
Sweating is great! It means you are releasing a lot of crap from your body. Many yoga classes, including Forrest Yoga, are heated to make it safer to move warm muscles and you will sweat from the movement in a heated room. It’s expected that there will be a certain amount of smelliness involved from everyone, not just you (one of the reasons that yoga teachers will often burn sage or incense). Make sure you are breathing and not pushing yourself past your edge. Put on deodorant before class, bring a towel or two, and don’t worry about it.
What if I don’t understand one of the teacher’s directions?
ASK! I really appreciate it when my students ask questions. In fact, I encourage them to feel comfortable at any time to flag me down and ask. Chances are if you’re unclear someone else is too. It gives the instructor a chance to stop and clarify for you (and sometimes the class as a whole) so everyone understands. Other people will usually be glad you asked too. If you still feel you need further explanation, definitely approach the instructor after class.
What if I fart in class?
For some reason, I have tons of non-yoga practicing friends ask me this questions. The body releases many things in yoga and farts are sometimes among them. If it’s a small toot, it’s probably best to ignore it. However, if you know you’re really stinking up the joint, that’s a good time to take a restroom break or just hang outside to, ah, air things out. As a courtesy to everyone, take precautionary measures like avoiding a burrito before class. The teacher may also take corrective measures (see aforementioned sage and incense).
How do I handle a wardrobe malfunction?
That depends on the nature of the malfunction. In my case, I was teaching so I avoided demonstrating poses with my legs in the air and tried to strategically use my longer yoga top to mask the pant crotch situation (mercifully, I doubt anyone noticed). If you’re a student, it’s a little trickier. See if you have anything handy like a safety pin or another layer of clothing that will help remedy the problem. You can try positioning your existing clothes as best you can. The good news is that unless it’s really egregious people will usually not be aware of it since they’ll be focused on what they’re doing. My teacher Ana always suggests test-driving your clothing before teaching (department of lessons learned!) and the same applies for students. Try out the outfit in a few poses at home and make sure respective parts are staying where they belong. You and everyone else will be far more comfortable.
Lastly, try to keep a sense of humor. I think some of yoga is learning to laugh at yourself and hey, sometimes those moments make for a pretty funny story later on.