How To Stay In The Room When The Room Gets Too Crowded

How To Stay In The Room When The Room Gets Too Crowded

Sometimes the packed classes filled with sweaty bodies breathing allover my mat in yoga get to me.

I usually know better then to turn up for the Saturday 11am aka Prime Time yoga. Yes, there was a sub that day. But she’s a pro who fills her own classes to capacity several times a week. Normally I can get myself to the 9:15, but somehow I have slipped into the late schedule…which left me waiting by the door for the 11am.

The last time I was in this situation — the 11am on a Saturday — I left class early. I couldn’t take the steaminess compiled with the lack of air as everyone sorted out their ujjayi breath. With not a crack in the window, or slight breeze from the ceiling fan, I got light headed, dizzy. Oh, and my discomfort hit a new high when my neighbors sweat started to drip on my mat.

I vowed that this time would be different.  I had a strategy.  I would home in on my practice, relax into the breath and stay with the uneasiness of the situation.  Basically, I’d keep the yoga alive for the full 90 minutes of class.

Here is how I did that:

  • I took a spot in the front row.

In a situation where the studio floor becomes wall to wall mats (seriously — it gets like this!), I prefer to keep my vision on the cool trinkets adorning the flower-filled alter rather than the rows of downward dogs in front of me. There’s also a window in the front of the studio which I could escape to if necessary.

  • I moved super slow, and allowed my breath to lead each movement.

Moving slow not only helped keep me from overheating, it also allowed me to tune into a deeper level of breathing. It didn’t matter if I was a pace behind the rest of the class. I knew I could catch up if need be…although that’s not really the point of my practice these days.

  • I kept my eyes shut, or almost shut.

I learned this as a meditation technique…the almost shut-eye gaze (there must be a proper name for this, right?). If I looked around at the packed house, the claustrophobia may have crept in. By keeping my eyes either closed or almost closed I could keep the focus inward. (Or on the cool trinkets adorning the alter. And the really nice light fixtures. And out the window, and into the other apartments  across the way.)

I’m proud to say that this strategy worked — I stayed in the room! But there were moments when I faltered into distraction. Like when my neighbor on the right raised her hand over my face in an extended side angle variation– she was wearing the sweetest, most delicately fine ring I’d ever seen.

Then there was the moment in arm balances, when my neighbor on the other side slid off his arms, directly onto my mat — sweat drippings and all.

But I brought it back. I rekindled my practice. And re-found the yoga.

How do you stay present when outside circumstances get under your skin?

 

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16 Comments

  1. tshen00@gmail.com' terry says:

    Great post, Elysha. I could visualize what you are talking about. It is brain yoga, 100%.
    Sometime, I do self talk like “I can do this” in dealing with challenging circumstances.
    Or, I would organize my self by taking deep breath. Either way, I would love to have a
    sense of humor that can diffuse the situation.

  2. I just try and be mindful, and also to get out of my own head, I remind myself that it’s not about me.

  3. pondernwonderblog@gmail.com' Madhuri says:

    Great Tips! I am usually one of those kids in the last row. I should probably try the first row and take my chance at looking clumsy, rather than being stuffed behind.

  4. ktblenkhorn@gmail.com' candidkay says:

    Oh boy. As a kid, books were my escape. And if I’m in a loud, crazy public place, I use the same escape now–if I can. Entering an alternate universe:).

  5. info@JenniferWeinbergMD.com' Jennifer says:

    I can relate to the feeling over slipping into overwhelm, when things seem out of control. I like your reminder to breathe, close your eyes and stay connected to you no matter what is going on around you.

  6. Thanks Terry. And yes a sense of humor helps most situations. I like your expression “organize myself by taking deep breaths.” It really is an organization that occurs…things are put in the proper place or perspective.

  7. Great reminder, Michele…It’s not about me! Thank?You!

  8. I love that, Kristine – an alternate universe fueled by the imagination.

  9. Thank you, Madhuri. I find the last row to be more claustrophobic which is why I usually choose the front. As for looking clumsy, I try to remember that nobody is paying attention to what I”m doing, or how I look. It’s another aspect of the yoga, I guess.

  10. Such simple things, but can make a world of difference in how we choose to react.
    Thanks Jennifer.

  11. That is awesome, I wish I could say I’d go straight to the front, but probably and maybe its because I’ve never really tried yoga, I’d hang toward the back to remain less seen, LOL
    I think we all come in contact with things that are out of our control that we just have to do what you did and shift our mind focus and let it go and remember especially when working out this is our time to relax and not the time to let little things bother us. Great post idea!
    Thanks for joining in the hop this year!!!

  12. Keeping the focus on the workout is a great point. Because once you’re doing that all the other stuff becomes less noticeable. And thank YOU for hosting the hop! It’s been fun getting to know everyone.

  13. Oy, that would get to me too. I LOOOOOOOVE my fresh oxygen, and plenty of it too. Not too sure that I would have braved it out…!

  14. info@mandie.tv' Mandie says:

    Visiting from the blog hop, and excited to see something more my speed… I.E., yoga and not running! ;P I totally get what you mean. I often do yoga at home for this reason! But there is definitely a value in the community of a group class, as well as the fine tuning from an instructor, so I try to go to them, too! I have definitely been there with the crowded room (though no sweaty dudes have ever fallen onto my mat), and agree that it increases the difficulty mentally. Glad you found a way to push through! Excited to follow your beautiful blog! <3

  15. Hi Karien, it is a tough situation. I have definitely left before class ended because of it. I love my fresh oxygen too!

  16. Another yogi!! So happy we get to meet. (Thanks, Kristy!) I practice at home sometimes too – it is nice to have the freedom and space. But as you say – the group class and instructor definitely helps with fine tuning the practice. Can’t wait to head to over to your blog!! Thank you, Mandie!

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