I generally try to embrace compassion, kindness, and non-judgment while in yoga classes. These are the qualities I am working to cultivate while breathing through asanas. These are the qualities I hope to take off my mat and onto the streets of NYC. Mostly so I do not wind up in jail for seriously harming the next person who pushes me on an overcrowded subway or chooses to stand in the doorway of a subway car while I am trying to get on or off. However, there are some things that make this incredibly difficult. Let’s use what happened today as an example.
The theme of the class I took this afternoon was ahimsa, nonviolence. Perfect, not only do I get to work on being more compassionate toward myself and my body, something that is dire need of work, but I get to actively work on being compassionate, kind, and nonjudgmental to those around me. Easy, right? Sure, as long as you are not directly behind the stinkiest man ever. As the teacher encourages us to breathe deeply I begin to gag on B.O. and it is only the first five minutes of class. It’s going to be a long hour. Did he shower today, yesterday, the day before, this week? Did he launder the clothes he seems to wear to every class? Deodorant, heard of that one? Sigh…focus on myself; focus on being compassionate, kind, and nonjudgmental to smelly yoga guy.
I think I did pretty okay throughout class, of yeah, until transitions that required windmilling our arms were incorporated. My gag reflex got a good workout. And I got a lot of practice at focusing, refocusing, and yes, refocusing again. This yoga class was not about sweaty, stinky guy. I was taking class for me. I was there to take care of myself, not think mean thoughts to some poor soul who had managed to drag himself to a yoga class on Monday afternoon, in the clothes he wore yesterday, pre shower.