Skip to content

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


    I heart my yoga studio, I really do. But sometimes the packed classes filled with sweaty bodies breathing allover my mat make me feel a wee bit claustrophobic.

    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 with all the holiday hoopla —  me and the fam have slipped into the late sched. 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 hone 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 refound the yoga.

    PS**It was time I gave my mat a good wash anyway.

    How do you stay in the room when outside circumstances get under your skin?

    14 thoughts on “How To Stay In The Room When The Room Gets Too Crowded”

    1. Crowded classes can be so tough. When I know it will be wall-to-wall I like to get a spot in the front as well. I’ve had a couple instances of someone sweating on me and it definitely throws me off as well. :-

    2. I get skeeved out with the neighbors sweat intruding into my space as well. Recently I wound up with a very sweaty man on both sides of me and the class was so full we only had about an inch between each mat. Literally there were pools of their sweat in that one inch space and the teacher would step through it and onto each of our mats…ewww I’m grossed out again just thinking about it! But you are right with your tips – breathing through it, closing your eyes, letting it go…you do what you have to do…and then you go home and wash everything!

    3. Crowded or not, I try to turn my thoughts and my perception inward at each practice. Some days I’m more successful than others. My success, when it’s there, seems to be more about me than my surroundings.

      Oddly enough, when the class I go to gets crowded, I seem to feel more energy than usual. And I’m not generally a ‘crowd’ person.

    4. SirenaTales

      Ha! How cool you are, TT. I hadn’t realized how spoiled I’d been with the yoga classes I’d attended till I happened in to some really crowded classes years after I’d begun to practice yoga. I appreciate all of your tips, as well as your tenacity and yogic integrity :). I am embarrassed to say that I really like to have some space between me and the next person….I cringed at the descriptions by you and your readers about others’ sweat dripping on you and your mats, until I reminded myself about my experiences in the dance studio when often we are all sweating and dancing across the floor (sweating) and even hugging at the end of class, or not, and always with apologies. Breathing, looking out a window, and in dance class, carving out my own space, however small, have helped. Thanks again for sharing your wisdom…but I do hope you get back to the earlier class again at some point. Xoxo

    5. Fortunately, this time it was only sweat dripping from one neighbor and not both, but it still distracted me from my practice. At one point I had to get tissues to wipe off his sweat from my mat. I wonder if I’ll ever be in a place where it’s okay for someone else’s sweat to encroach on my space…Thanks for sharing here Adrea!

    6. That sounds like a great place to be– where your success is determined by you rather than your surroundings.
      Perhaps I can work on using the energy of the crowd to feed me, rather than distract. Thx, txyogi!

    7. ST, I’ve been to 5Rhythm dance classes where everyone gets sweaty like that, and they’re all touching and dancing together….I’m still not there. I’ve had to leave those classes early too. Those were in the summer so maybe they’re not as hot now, but in the meantime — it’s back to the early classes for me. xoxo

    8. SirenaTales

      Heh. Well, I should have clarified that folks either apologize for not hugging due to sweat, or with good friends, apologize and if both dancers are cool with it, hug. Happy for you that you are grabbing that more airy joy of the early classes! Enjoy all that space, air and dryness :). xoxo

    9. Oh man, you are reminding me why I love my home practice 🙂 I do go to a class once a week, although there isn’t the SWEAT you talk about – maybe because it’s Iyengar? 🙂

    10. Ah, yes –just one of the beauties of a home practice…noone else’s sweat to think about! I’ve never done an Iyengar class… maybe that’s where I should be next time I try to take that Saturday 11am slot! Thanks for your comment, Sara.

    11. I told myself for years that I LOVED crowded classes and it worked, like mantras do. Now I really do love crowded, sweaty, wall to wall classes. I take the energy from the crowd and there is always more energy in a crowd than with 5 or 6. Yoga is union after all.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *