Sunday, August 14, 2011

Yoga Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook

One of my favorite and most useful books in my library is one called The Complete Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook. Its bright yellow hard-backed cover makes it durable so I can take it with me everywhere and easy to find when I'm in a pinch. This Survival Handbook, contains a lot of essential information; you know, practical and essential know-how for things like giving your cat the Heimlich Maneuver, how to escape your car when it has been completely submerged in water, and how to escape from killer bees.

One section that is glaringly absent from this essential how-to is a section on what to do for those "Worst-Case Scenarios" involving your yoga practice. So, in the interest of helping humanity avoid any preventable disasters (and I realize I may be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for this) I would like to offer my own appendage to this already very informative book. I offer this information from personal experience either in practice or teaching. It cannot be overstated that I have experienced or seen everything in a yoga class--EVERYTHING.

What to Do in Class When Your Cell Phone Rings
1. Look disapprovingly at someone else in the room.
2. Pretend it didn't ring and pray the battery in your phone dies.
3. Calmly walk over and silence then turn off your phone. Under NO circumstance should you answer the call.
4. If you are a doctor or have a young child at home who may call you during an emergency, tell the instructor before class that you will put your phone on vibrate and if in the rare circumstance it should ring, that you'll discretely leave and take the call out of the studio.

How to Come in Late to or Leave Early from Class
If possible, plan your day to arrive early, and leave un-rushed from yoga class. If that’s not possible, I'd personally rather people come late or leave early than not come at all.
1. If coming late, while standing outside the studio, unroll your yoga mat and place it long-ways over your shoulder. Do not whip open your mat in the studio.
2. If possible, scout a spot in the studio to place your mat quickly and quietly.
3. Before entering the studio, listen at the door and make sure to come into the studio after the class has chanted and once the class begins moving.
4. If you are leaving early, tell the instructor beforehand that you'll be leaving. Plan to sit or rest in savasana for a few minutes before you leave.

How to Keep from Coughing in Savasana
In this desert climate and with all the ujjai breathing (whisper breath) we do during class, it's common to have a dry throat at the end of class.
1. Hydrate before class and keep water close to your person.
2. Most studios allow students to bring water to class. Swig several ounces right before savasana.
3. If you feel a cough coming on, focus on a different chakra than your throat chakra and repeat this mantra, "I am hydrated. I am calm. I am the ocean. . . or something."
4. If you begin coughing, discretely leave the room and find liquid.

How to Survive if Someone in Class Has Severe Body Odor
Unfortunately some practitioners do not apply the ancient yoga philosophy of Sauca (pronounced sow-cha), the virtue of cleanliness, in body, mind, spirit and relating to personal hygiene.
1. Focus on pranayama (breath work) that emphasizes your exhale.
2. Slip the odoriferous individual a copy of the yoga sutras with highlighted passages pointing to this philosophical tenet of cleanliness
3. Remember that we are all sentient beings (though some of us have more acute senses than others) and each of us are a valued part of the Whole, even those individuals who have really, really, bad B.O.
4. If you realize that you are the one with the B.O., discretely find a restroom and rinse your pits. Hand sanitizer contains mostly alcohol which kills bacteria. Rubbing some under your armpits may neutralize the odor. Shower regularly and use deodorant.

What to Do When You Are Trying to Impress Someone and Can't Do the Pose
1. Fake a cramp.
2. Mutter in semi-audible tones that you are tired from performing this same pose (which is usually very easy) earlier on that day in your 3-hour personal practice and need to rest.
3. Complain that you learned how to do the pose differently.
4. Perform a different pose that you can do very well.

What to Do When You Have a Real Muscle Cramp
The exact cause of muscle cramping is not well understood. Cramps are thought to be the result of overexertion and fatigue of a muscle and loss of vital minerals such as sodium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium. Oxygen deprivation is also a possible cause for muscles to cramp (inefficient energy resources in the muscles when oxygen is deprived).
1. Stay well hydrated to prevent cramping.
2. Ease your way into and through each pose. Practice the balance of steadiness and ease (Sthirum and Sukam) while performing every pose, especially if it is an unfamiliar pose or you have previously fatigued the targeted muscles.
3. Maintain your deep and slow breathing. Oxygen may help muscles perform regular energy production. See Krebs Cycle.
4. Increase the aforementioned minerals into your diet by eating bananas, watermelon, low-fat milk, kale, spinach, leafy greens, or broccoli however make sure that these foods are appropriate for you Prakruti according to the Ayurveda model. And of course avoid eating anything at least 2 hours before class. Which brings me to my next point . . .

How to Avoid Passing Gas in Class
Yoga is designed to be very cleansing . . . on several levels. Unfortunately social norms don't support all methods of cleansing caused by yoga.
1. Like mentioned earlier, avoid eating at least two hours before class.
2. Visit the restroom before class.
3. If you feel air moving in your digestive organs, discretely leave class, visit the restroom and practice a squat pose until gas is relieved.
4. If you or someone proximal does pass gas, apply similar methods as sections: How to Survive if Someone in Class Has Sever Body Odor and What to Do In Class When Your Cell Phone Rings

How to Avoid Doing Partner Yoga Postures with "Sweaty Guy"
1. Fake a cramp
2. Invent an injury and explain that you will need to do a different pose.
3. Pretend your cell phone rang, that you’re a doctor and need to take the emergency call.
4. Use this opportunity to use the restroom.
5. If you are the "Sweaty Guy," consider bringing a towel to class or and perhaps and extra t-shirt to put on in case you are partnering in poses.

Please comment below and add any other additional "Survival" tactics you have discovered along this sometimes treacherous path of yoga.

For your own copy of The Complete Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook, please support our fabulous local bookshop, The Kings English Bookshop at 15th and 15th. Please know that the Yoga section has yet to be added.


Ryann Christina Nelson said...

So, as of late I find myself in Denver practicing yoga with other student whose mats are very close to one another and when the person in front of me decides that it is a good idea to move back on their mat for Warrior III. This complicates the spatial relationship for me. From such a position they are putting their heal directly into my face; you know the feeling while balancing there with your head stuck out and the looming aspect of their heal moving toward you one second at a time.....relax, and my advice is to simply put your arm out to protect your face. This may possibly shake their balance and force them to fall out of the pose but the aspect of protecting your eyes and nose from the 'foot-in-the-face' syndrome is superseded. Just do it, it is the right thing to do in the moment. -Ryann

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