How to Avoid Those Embarrassing Moments on Your Yoga Mat

I’m lucky I survived my last yoga class. The burly guy right behind me tumbled out of handstand and narrowly missed landing on me, his flailing feet grazing the back of my head. Thankfully, neither of us were seriously injured, and the guy left with nothing more than a bruised ego.

Don’t overestimate your abilities. The combination of crowded classes and overconfident students can make inversions a risky proposition. A single out-of-control student can cause a domino effect, knocking down several people at a time. Even if you know you can rock that handstand, make sure you’ve also mastered how to safely exit the pose and stay on your mat. When class is packed and mats are slick with sweat, it’s time to dial down the acrobatics. After all, it’s a practice, not a performance.

Eat lightly and save the gas-producing beans and broccoli for after class.  If you’re planning to eat a heavy meal, allow at least three hours before class to digest. When you’re feeling bloated or doubled over with gas, it’s impossible to fully relax, which defeats the purpose of showing up in the first place.

Yoga teachers really don’t care if you break wind in that deep twist or down dog, but we know this can be embarrassing for you and might make you feel like crawling under your mat. Especially in crowded heated classes, the steamy, hot air and close proximity of sweaty bodies can intensify smells. If it happens to slip out, just shrug it off as nature’s way of releasing what it no longer needs. Same goes for those tears that well up unexpectedly in those edgy hip openers – just let it go.

Don’t roll up a wet mat. If you could see with the naked eye all the germs living on your yoga mat, you might think twice about touching your head or face to your mat. If you don’t clean them regularly, they can turn into a petri dish full of viruses, bacteria and fungus. Most students tend to spray down their mats at the end of class, but when they roll them up wet, it creates a moist environment where bacteria and other organisms thrive. Plus, damp rolled up mats that bake in a hot car can develop a foul, mildewy odor that could be offensive to you and your neighboring yogis. Either clean your mat BEFORE class or wipe it down at home and air dry it flat.

Skip the perfume spritz. Trying to cover up the stink by spritzing your mat or your body with cologne or a heavily scented deodorizer only makes matters worse. It can irritate the nose and lungs of the yogis next to you and make it difficult to take those full deep breaths that we’re always striving for in class.

Plan ahead and stop rushing. Chronically showing up late and having a whole row of people shift their mats to accommodate you or having your phone go off right when everyone is drifting peacefully into a blissful, sweet Savasana is not only awkward for you, but also annoying to your classmates.

When you take a yoga class, you’re sharing space and energy with a community of people, often packed into a tight space where students are literally lined up mat to mat. How you show up can impact everyone around you.

Instead of rushing to class out of breath and stressed out, allow extra time so you can arrive a few minutes early. This will give you a chance to turn off your phone, wipe down your mat and take a bathroom break to relieve any bloating. You’ll start class feeling more relaxed and centered and thankful that you planned ahead – and your classmates will be secretly glad you did, too.

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