“Nobody wants to see the inside of what’s happening in your shorts,” Smith told CNN. “You do see a lot of that in yoga classes.”
Yoga’s popularity, which has almost doubled in the past 10 years in the U.S., evidently has its downside, ushering in a rash of newbies unaware of the teaching’s finicky (and often justified) unwritten rules.
Celebrity yoga devotees such as Jennifer Aniston and Gisele Bündchen have opened up a whole new market, attracting many who are perhaps more interested in buff bods than spiritual growth.
To be fair, attending a yoga class for the first time can be a hugely daunting experience. Yogis can dress strangely (or scantily), they can make funny noises, they sometimes smell awkwardly, and twist themselves up like pretzels or flip into a handstand just to warm up.
In an effort to soften the eye-opening introduction into the yoga world, Smith, along with veteran London-based teachers Leila Sadeghee and Norman Blair, break out the 10 types you are likely to encounter in a yoga studio:
1. The yoga strutter
“There are a lot of yoga strutters in this world (who) strut in literally like peacocks,” says Smith, who began practicing in 1995 before training in Mysore, India and qualifying as an instructor in 2008.
“And they’re like, actually I can do the more difficult variations so that I’m just going to show you how good I am. That’s when it’s frustrating.”
“I have seen it where the version of what is being taught and a version of what a student is doing is so different that it can actually be distracting to others,” explains Sadeghee, who suspects that the yoga strutter attends class for “an energetic crutch,” rather than a structured routine.
“It is very supportive to practice in a group, but then they want to do whatever they want to do with their bodies,” she adds.
Blair says nearly all yogis start off as strutters, many of whom enroll for what he dubs the “WMB” syndrome, or Want Madonna Body. “But if you’re still practicing to get a Madonna body 10 years later, then something’s gone wrong,” he says.
Does the yoga strutter have a uniform?
“Oh of course! Lulu head to toe!” Smith says, referring to the ubiquitous high-end yoga apparel brand Lululemon.
2. The heavy sweater
If you know you have the propensity to sweat buckets, then by all means bring a towel with you, encourages Smith.
“Absolutely, because then the teachers can lay the towel over you while they adjust you, or they can wipe their hands after they touch you,” she says.
“I try to give everyone equal attention, so it’s not fair to the student if you don’t adjust them … but, you know, make it easy (on the teacher).
“The things that irritate from a teacher’s side are sweaty people and really stinky feet,” she adds. “I mean no-one wants to touch your feet if they’re really stinky or ugly. We do it because we have to, but you’re like, ‘Oh no, now I’m going to wash my hands 25 times at the end of class.'”
Sadeghee, whose vinyasa flow classes will often cram 95 people into a studio, says getting splashed during intense classes is a result of yoga’s popularity in big cities.
She recalls getting doused in sweat on a weekly basis by a certain celebrity at trendy Jivamukti Yoga in New York.
“You literally have about one centimeter between your mat and the next person,” she says. “One entire side of my body would be drenched — the side that was next to Woody Harrelson. He was just wide enough to have his sweat going in my direction.
“This is how I got my initiation on how to be relaxed in the yoga room,” she explains. “So for me, the cost of this experience was being doused in man sweat. And then you kind of learn to let go and just rinse off after.”
It’s not for everyone, however.
“Keep your clothes on,” says Blair, a heavy sweater himself. “That’s my personal preference.” Continue reading >>