Yoga is meant to soothe the mind and soul while giving the body a physical tune-up. However, my trips to several yoga classes in the local community centre have summarily dispelled the notion that this ancient science is a great leveller of humanity.
These are the types of people I have encountered:
The show-off: This person is ultra skinny, has the flexibility of plasticine and comes to a class mainly for self-affirmation. He/she does every asana effortlessly, all the while basking in the envy of less agile downward doggers. Not surprisingly, he/she always takes a spot right in front of everybody.
The know-it-all: The k.i.a is more interested in correcting the postures of other people. He/she is characterised by darting eyes which note every flaw in others’ performances. This person will unabashedly draw attention to others’ faults so that no-one will notice his/her own poorly executed contortions. In the most extreme form, the k.i.a will even have the gall to advise the instructor. He/she is the class’s biggest nightmare.
The wallflower: This shy, retiring personality will deliberately enter the class slightly late and sit as far behind as possible, preferably behind a large person or a huge pillar. It’s not easy to nab the elusive wallflower, but if you are lucky to do so, he/she will frequently refer to the fact that he/she is a total beginner.
The academic: Closely related to the know-it-all, the academic has done plenty of useless research on the net and can spout trivial data about the benefits and non-benefits of yoga, the myriad ways to do a pose, the history of the science, the finer points of yoga versus pilates, yoga versus the gym and other related topics. It is best to tune out when this bore begins to talk.
The talker: This person will natter non-stop during the class and is extremely distracting. That is why it helps to wear ear plugs or ask the teacher to turn on the music real loud to drown out the irritating monologues. The talker is usually very thick-skinned and you have to shut him/her down firmly rather than politely sigh exaggeratedly to show your displeasure.
The complainer: The complainer is very dissatisfied about everything – the lights are too dim or too bright, the music is too loud or too soft, not gentle enough, not stimulating enough, the room is too hot or too cold, the teacher is not skilled enough. You want to tell him/her to stay home and do yoga in front of the TV.
The model: This person is the epitome of well-dressed elegance. He/she comes to the class to show off not only the perfect physique but also totally coordinated designer wear in harmonious colours. You have to stop yourself from looking around to see if there’s a camera crew around.
The busy bee: Always in a rush, the busy bee makes it clear that he/she is only taking lessons as a secondary adjunct to his/her very busy life. “Oh god, I have to drop off my kids for soccer, then I have a PTA meeting, after which I give a cookery class, then I have to go out to a cocktail party followed by dinner with friends” and so on and so forth is heard from the lips of this distracting personality.
I have benefited tremendously from attending these yoga sessions. Not only has my health improved but I have seen all types of human behaviour – a deeply interesting insight into the types of people who inhabit this wonderful planet of ours! – Khaleejnews