#214. Can You Win at Yoga? I Say Yes!

This woman is definitely winning. Photo by Joel Nilsson.
This woman is definitely winning. Photo by Joel Nilsson.

I’ve been doing yoga for about eight years. I have stints where I go a few times a week, and then sometimes I’ll just go once every other month. I enjoy it as quiet (but sweaty) exercise, but it’s not my religion or anything. The main purpose of yoga for me is to get the blood pumping, work on flexibility and strength and have one full hour of quiet time. It’s never about competition… except for when it is.

I try to not pay too much attention to the folks around me, but sometimes I can’t help it: there’s the super bendy lady, or the giant man who stinks like chicken soup, or the tattooed waitress with awesome pipes. You know the people I am talking about; they are in every class. I do notice who’s doing what around me… sue me! Sometimes it makes me feel good about my balance or strength; other times, it pushes me to try a little harder. A healthy competition is okay, just don’t tell your yoga instructor, because she/he will tell you that’s not what it’s all about.

Anyhow, I recently started a secret competition at hot yoga. Every single yoga class I’ve attended ends in the same way: shavasana. Basically, you lie on your back with your arms spread out at a 45 degree angle and your feet about a foot or so apart. This pose is all about breathing and “just being.” It’s basically tricking you into meditating. Anyhow, once everyone in the class is in the pose, the instructor will always say:

“Stay in this pose for as long as you like.”

I find this to be funny, because I know another class is starting in thirty minutes. They need to clean this studio before that class starts, and people from that class want to set up their mats and water bottles and towels at least ten minutes prior. “Stay in this pose as long as you like” really means ten minutes, max.

This ten minutes is plenty of time. I usually will stick it out for about five minutes, then leave. I have a huge fear of falling asleep and being jolted awake by a naturally beautiful, spandex clad blonde with a topknot. In my most recent class, I decided to pull an Eleanor and committed to being the last person standing… or laying, as it were.

Class ends and everyone (about 60 of us) is in shavasana. “Stay here as long as you like,” the instructor says lowly and slowly as she exits the room. The first wave of people starts leaving about a minute in… at first, it’s just one or two, then five or six, then woosh! Three minutes into shavasana, 60 percent of the room is moving around. Meanwhile, I’m just laying (lying? never quite mastered the diff between those two) there, eyes closed but on the prize.

At the five minute mark, the exodus has slowed, but I can tell it’s still happening. I open my eyes and peak around the dark room. There’s only about eight of us left. I think, “I hope no one else is trying to be the last man standing… cause they’re going to lose!”

Obviously, this is the exact thing the original yogis hoped one would be thinking during shavasana.

At the eight-ish minute mark, five of the eight of us have left. Now, it’s just me and two blobs I can barely make out in the candlelit room. One looks like a woman. The other is an older gentleman. I could tell this guy was going to give me a run for my money. I’d noticed him earlier during class… it was hard not to because he was huff-breathing the loudest of anyone BY FAR. Has anyone else ever noticed that men seem to take yoga so seriously? I don’t get it. Sorry to generalize.

Anyhow, the lady left and it was just me and the guy. By this time, we’d been laying there for about 10 minutes. The cleaners were in the room slowly and quietly cleaning while we stayed in shavasana “as long as we wanted.” A smile crept across my face. I was so close! I did really want this to be over because I felt bad for the people trying to quietly clean. It was really awkward just laying there as others cleaned around me, trying not to disturb my spiritual journey.

A minute later, I looked at the guy. He was gone! I hadn’t even heard him get up.

I won! I won at yoga!

I sashayed by the four cleaners patiently trying to busy themselves until I got the flock out of there. No one complained. I didn’t apologize, even though the urge to was very strong. I don’t need to apologize! There are no apologies in yoga… except for if you walk into the locker room with your shoes on. Then you are in trouble.

Have any fun yoga/gym nuggets to share with the crowd? Loves or peeves? You know that’s what the comments are for.

Also, remember that time I spent 90 minutes waiting to buy slightly discounted yoga clothes? Dumb!

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Comments (8)

  • Lindsay Wood 3 years ago Reply

    I fell asleep in an extended shavasana at the end of a hot yoga class. I loudly and embarrassingly gasped myself awake when the instructor put a cool lavender-scented cloth over my eyes. I think I might have even hit her a little bit. She apologized, I apologized (quietly). And we talked later after class – she said no big deal, it happens. Definitely embarrassing, though!!!

    molly mogren 3 years ago Reply

    I’ve sorta-kinda fallen asleep BEFORE class starts and there is always a very scary WHERE AM I???! moment when you jolt yourself awake. Way better to do that than, say, fart really loudly and obviously.

    Sarge in Charge 3 years ago

    You had me dying with this post. I have to chime in that I was recently in class with one of those super super serious dudes with no regard for how their um, minimalist fashions (they never wear enough clothing!) and heavy breathing affect others…. and he DID fart loudly and obviously. Right next to me. And then for the rest of class he did absolutely everything in his power to avoid eye contact with me (can’t blame him on that one). I nearly died both of laughter and of extreme second hand embarrassment… honestly still cringing right now just thinking of it. And laughing.

    molly mogren 3 years ago

    I love/hate when people fart in yoga. It’s so gross (especially in HOT yoga!), but so hilarious.

  • Hilary Rae 3 years ago Reply

    Molly, I got to a (way too) hot class the other day and ended up going shirtless (which I would never have done before). I had worn crops and a loose tank, when I usually wear shorts and a sports bra/full coverage top combo, and for some reason it was extra hot and I just knew I couldn’t take it. I just took off my shirt folded it up by my mat. Surprisingly, or not really, nobody looked at me weird, even in the chair pose with prayer hands twist (whatever its called) where your tummy (no matter how thin you are) looks strange and bulges in weird ways. Definitely an Eleanor moment. But now I never want to wear a shirt; it was so freeing!

    molly mogren 3 years ago Reply

    Don’t you always have so much respek (cue Ali G!) for people who do yoga shirtless? I recently did a private Pilates session in a sports bra and leggings and it was a serious mental challenge.

    It is funny how you just assume people notice you in a class, but truth be told, I only notice people if they are being annoying (breathing too loudly, stink or are basically naked)… or if I think they are a bad ass, which is the category you fall into 🙂 Nice job HRH!

  • Katie 2 years ago Reply

    Biggest peeve are the chicks who think they can just do their own moves and don’t have to follow the instructor or the rest of us! They are not changing the moves because of injury – it’s obvious they just think they know better and don’t care. Why come to group class if you are not participating?? I seriously want to punch them – or just ask my favorite instructor if it bugs her too 🙂

    You are totally right on the guys. They also use the heaviest weights, so then they almost pass out while the rest of us continue our chatarunga.

    molly mogren katt 2 years ago Reply

    YES! I always wonder if that kind of thing bugs an instructor.

    How about touching really sweaty people???

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