In the world of yoga etiquette one finds conflicting guidelines around the question of whether or not it’s okay to use the bathroom during class. Some teachers, such as Sharon Gannon of Jivamukti, will not allow an exiting student to reenter the room. It can be seen as disrespectful to the teachings, especially when some people use the occasion as an excuse to dilly-dally by the water cooler or to avoid certain poses.
Other teachers, however, feel it’s fine for a student to exit briefly as long as it is during resting poses and doesn’t upset the symmetry of the sequencing. Regardless, an obvious bathroom-bound exit can break the focus of the rest of the class, leading to more unnecessary evacuations.
Below are ten ways to use the bathroom during yoga class without revealing your motives and while preserving your reputation as a focused student.
- Mute point. Make this entire issue a mute point by only practicing at state-of-the-art studios that equip each student which their own mat-side porta-potty (affectionately called a “Porta-Patthabhi”). This solution takes all of the tension out of the situation by embracing the problem at the individual level. These quiet, no-flush units include beautiful blue chemicals to help break down solid waste and correspond with the vibrations of the throat chakra. Note to studio owners: like a goldfish who only grows as big as its tank, your student population will only grow as big as the number of mats and porta-potties that are available.
- Feign injury. This the most basic, unquestioned method to excuse yourself from class for a few minutes. Not only does it remove judgment from your peers, it also gives you their energy in the form of pity. Upon your prompt return from the bathroom, your clout will multiply due to the perception that you are a wounded warrior, persevering through adversity. Be careful not to overdo this technique, or someone may catch on. Once you get to be a great actor, however, you can sparingly use this method to sue the yoga studio for your injury. Note: After suing, you will want to preserve your friendly relationship with the yoga community by doing something nice for the studio, such as giving the gift of a dozen or more Porta-Patthabhis.
- The old switcheroo. You are working to relinquish your ego through asana, so as long as the disruptor isn’t directly associated with you or your ego, your enlightenment and your yogic-image won’t be jeopardized. With this in mind, begin each class wearing a costume of some sort. And then, when you exit for the latrine, say something like, “You call that adho mukha svanasana? More like supta adho muka svanasana! I quit!” Storm out, use the bathroom, remove the costume and then discreetly re-enter the class as yourself, saying, “Sorry I’m late, I couldn’t find parking.”
- Prop fortress escape route. If you often arrive to class early, you may be accustomed to using the awkward pre-class period to build a protective fortress of yoga props around your mat: Blankets, blocks, straps, bolsters, water bottles, etc. Now go one step further. Construct the wall of yoga clutter so it travels unobstructed from your yoga mat all the way to the bathroom. Do this every day so it doesn’t seem out of the ordinary. Then, when you must go potty during class, wait until the standing poses are over. When everyone begins to practice sitting or supine poses, you will naturally disappear behind your prop-fortress. From there, crawl on your stomach behind the prop wall, straight to your destination. Nobody will suspect a thing! For maximum effect, bring an iPod and portable speaker and while you’re gone, play a pre-recorded track of you saying things like, “Awesome! I mastered Matsyasana! I don’t need an adjustment, just leave me alone over here please.”
- Fire alarm. Only resort to this measure if you really, urgently have to go the bathroom, or preemptively if you think you might have to eventually use the bathroom urgently. Be courteous and mindful to only pull the fire alarm in advanced classes. Beginner students might not have developed the equanimity necessary to remain calm during the piercing tones of the alarm.
- Adjustment decoy. Teachers love giving one-on-one adjustments and demonstrations to assist students whom are obviously behind the learning curve. First pick out the newest, most insecure-looking student. Ideally he or she will be on the opposite side of the room – so as a rule of thumb never practice near the newbies. Next, interrupt the teacher by saying, “Can you please help so-and-so over there, it looks like he/she is having major problems with this pose.” Make sure to point directly at the student and then quietly sneak out. Note: It is actually okay to literally say, “so-and-so”, and “he/she”. This will subtly raise your status, and you won’t sound sexist. Maybe so-and-so appreciates the help, but was afraid to ask.
Photos: Porta-potties: Ben Husmann/flickr +Yoga Class: brad coy/flickr
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