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Ask The Yogacist: What to Do About the Obscene Class Grunter?

in In Class, The Yogacist, YD News

yogacist-logoEvery Tuesday The Yogacist will answer one of your questions! Here’s our first one…

Dear Yogacist:

I went to a mellow class today and was really getting into the flow of things.  It was a new teacher, new sequencing and a very relaxing class, except for one thing: several interruptions from a fellow student panting like an obscene phone caller during poses.  Now I know that people approach yoga from different places, but heavy breathing and grunting in a sorta sexual way was distracting to say the least.  What’s next?  Someone asking if my fridge is running during down dog?  What advice do you give to fellow students of a hot and bothered yogi?  Sincerely – Glad I was several mats away

Dear Glad I Was Several Mats Away

Hot and bothered indeed. Is he cute? Just kidding! First of all so happy to hear you made it out with your innocence in tact! Sounds like the huff and puff yogi really needed to release some heavy inner demons. Unfortunately it’s at the expense of your quiet inner peace, and perhaps others’ as well. Although gruntmaster flex is difficult to ignore, especially if it sounds like you dialed into 1-900-KINKYOG, you might try tuning him out by listening to your own breath, or meditating on a word or phrase. Sure the growling and groaning can be distracting, perhaps even arousing(!), but maybe if you set the rhythm by audibly inhaling and exhaling deep long breaths you could soothe the virile fellow.

Next time you’re at class and spy the erotic fire breather, maybe set up your mat at the opposite end of the room. If it reaches the boiling point of utter class disruption it couldn’t hurt to politely mention to your teacher, who may then be inclined to weave in some extra cues to quiet the breath and distill the raunch. Perhaps down dog will have a little less of growl!

Have a question or quandry? email The Yogacist at yogacist@yogadork.com

The Yogacist will be a recurring weekly column featured every Tuesday on YogaDork.com – to entertain, to educate, to let you know you’re not alone!

EarlierIntroducing The Yogacist: How’s YOUR Yoga Etiquette?

14 comments… add one
  • I used to practice with someone like that. One day I asked him if – when we were hanging out – he’d mind if I did a Xena Princess Warrier yell every time I took a bite of food, as a preliminary…

    When people grunt a LOT, especially during (say) primary day, I take it as a “Please LOOK at me!” signal.

    I guess I don’t have any useful, tactful advice.

  • Ashtangikali

    I guess with someone like this around in a yoga class, it would be the best time to focus your practice on Pratyahara!

  • adw

    go Yogacist! When I’ve had a little too little sleep, or looking back to my (even more) beginner days I’m sure my breathing was not exactly controlled (and it wasn’t exactly a comfortable place to be either), so I try to feel compassion for the occassional heavy breather (and an opportunity to deepen pranyama and pratyahara practice can only be positive), ps love the tag

  • LD

    So funny. I remember a woman doing this once during practice. It sounded pretty xxx.

    I had a student for years who was just plain loud. She was one of the nicest people, but one of the loudest and would exclaim “oh my god!” with fervent passion after every upward facing dog. During a more silent moment, I reminded her to breathe through her nose and not her mouth, so as not to disrupt the flow of prana. It worked! Every once in a while I’d have to remind her. She totally knew she was a loud mouth and would say, “oh yeah! forgot!”

  • Oh no! Maybe I’m the panting yogi in the quiet class! I’ve been along to a few non-ashtanga classes where I felt very self conscious about all my grunty breathing. Everyone else… silent. Me… not so much. But I don’t know how to breathe in yoga any other way!!

  • You’re off to a great start. I’ll look forward to it every week.

    Just three more years of this and you’ll have a book.

    Bob Weisenberg

  • Hehe! Maybe this person went to the tennis grunters school of yoga?

  • Josie

    I practice Ashtanga, so you should be able to hear your breath. When someone is breathing in an incorrect manner or grunting, my teacher always mentions what the correct breathing should sound like. He’ll also remind us that if you can’t breathe in a pose or are grunting then you should be kind to yourself and back off.

    We do have a grunter that comes to class, thankfully only occasionally.

  • Years ago, I was a gym rat who practiced a bit of yoga. I’d take vinyasa and led astanga at the gym. There was this older guy who used to come to vinyasa class. He would work himself into FITS of frustration and he didn’t just grunt – he’d emit these high pitched yelps like a 240lb (about) lap dog. There was a force field of nervous energy around him & other class members would steer clear. I would feel sorry for our teacher, having to try to talk him down a bit. In retrospect it’s funny. I wonder if he still practices! (Whelping Yoga).

  • Bikram says if you let someone steal your peace, you are the loser. You should be able to meditate peacefully, calmly, on a median, in the middle of rush hour traffic.

    This other student sounds like he has some work to do on his breathing and this should be addressed by the teacher or the owner of the studio. You have your own practice to work on, and his breathing gives you an opportunity to work on patience, forgiveness, and empathy. Don’t let him steal your peace!

  • It’s often the case that people don’t know they are distracting others… Certainly setting a ‘good’ example as a fellow student can be worthwhile, both for your own practice and for others. The teacher is one person in the room who can guide, but as a student, you can help shift the energy as well by staying focused, being pleasant and present.

    Looking forward to more Yogacist!

  • Waitaminute. Just because the guy was a loud breather, GIWSMA assumes that it was sexual? I think that GIWSMA might have been reading into her (his?) own agenda.

    In tennis, when Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams grunt and scream with each shot, I really doubt that they’re getting off on hitting the [tennis] ball. I mean, maybe the guy is out of shape and struggling, or maybe he’s a gym rat doing his weight-lifting “aaargh!”

    In any case, I cannot stand loud breathers myself. So, my sympathies are with GIWSMA. But he/she might be projecting his/her own fantasies here…

    Just my two cents!

    Yoga Spy

  • the other day, there was a lady laughing ridiculously throughout class. i mean. not just laughing because she fell. just laughing. like, she was high or something. i guess, high on yoga (ha!). it was definitely disturbing. but, i did my best to ignore it and keep goin.

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