Yogi Types

Posted: December 12, 2011 in Yoga
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(Disclaimer:  understand that I have no ill feelings towards any particular personality type, particularly while practicing yoga, but, I am also a jackass at heart and despite accepting everyone as the unique and beautiful snowflake they are, I am also not above having a little fun at their expense as I hope they do about me)

When I first started in triathlon, I had already predetermined in my mind the types of odd, self-absorbed, obsessive-compulsive people I was going to encounter and that proved somewhat to be true.  After all, how else do you describe somebody who dedicates 30 plus hours of their life to exercising and working out; on top of their ordinary day-to-day activities like work and family?  I even learned that I happened to be one of these weirdo’s…who knew?  But after three years of participating in triathlon now, nothing about these types of personalities really surprises me anymore as I’ve just about seen and experienced it all.

Anyway, that was nothing.  When I first began my yoga practice in earnest I found a whole new host of weirdo’s to observe and contemplate…and, BOY!, is there ever!  In fact, in as much as eight months of practicing yoga now I am still discovering more unique personality traits of both novice and experienced yogis alike, no matter what type of class I happen to be taking.  So with that in mind, let me walk you through some of the more interesting, shall we say, ‘unique and beautiful snowflakes’ that I have encountered on this particular journey.

The OCD Yogi – The ‘Obsessive-Compulsive’ yogis are very easy to spot and every Ashram has them I’m sure.  At first, they flat out intimidated me as I then had them mislabeled as the ‘Eager Beavers’ of the class and therefore the ones to watch.  But in doing so, I’ve come to learn a little more about them now.  The OCD yogi may not know anything more than the most basic beginner in the class despite their obvious attention to detail and basic yogic protocol.  Typically, they are the ones who will turn up 15-20  minutes to class early in order to claim “their” particular spot on the floor.  Should that spot already be claimed, they are immediately thrown into a state of disorganized chaos.  I once claimed an OCD yogis spot by accident and it seemed to immediately throw that person into a complete Rainman-sized meltdown, so much so, that I politely moved allowing them to reclaim their precious spot before they broke down and curled up into a fetal ball in the middle of the studio. Furthermore, the OCD yogis will always have all the toys and props (usually their own) – like straps, blocks, blankets and bolsters, etc. – all positioned around them just so like they were trying to build themselves a cushion fort or something.  They usually wear the same outfit to each class as it has (I assume) been selected to specifically match their mat and/or other props.

The Trendy Yogi – These yogis are fun to observe for sure and may also have a little of the OCD yogi in them just dying to be released.  The Trendy yogi will usually have the most expensive mat available for sale on the market, as well as the accompanying carrying bag, towel, etc.  They will have three pairs of the most popular Prana or Gaiam yoga pants and compression tops and have a lifetime membership at some up-scale, elitist studio run by some big-time, big ego instructor, so that one can only assume that they are either independently wealthy or work about a dozen part time jobs in order to afford all this shit.  I also figure they will own all the current popular New Age-y music and the latest Steve Gold album and listen to it all day long in their car, or while they work, vacuum, do laundry, whatever.  More than likely, they will also be up on all the latest meditation workshops, nutritional theories and diet fads currently going.  I have a small problem practicing alongside this particular type of yogi as they make me feel like a hobo who’s happened to wander in off the street looking to stretch and maybe a hot bowl of soup.  I have no problem looking good, of course, but typically when you’ve just rolled out of bed and thrown on a bandana to hide your bed head prior to going to your regular morning class and the person beside you looks like they just stepped out from the pages of a Lululemon catalogue, well, it tends to be a bit off-putting.  Maybe that means I just need to be a little less self conscious but, really, do they really have to look so damn good so early in the morning?

The Spiritual Warrior Yogi – Every yoga class I have ever attended has about a half dozen of these yogi types in them and, sometimes, they annoy me no end so I try and position myself as far from them as possible in the studio (See ‘Jock yogi’  below).  The Spiritual Warrior type of yogi firmly believes that their yoga practice is the very gateway to achieving a more enlightened state of being here in the physical world, AND,  they think you’re crazy if you don’t and will go through great lengths to get you to see it too.  They’re like the Darth Vader of yoga trying desperately to coax other young yogis over to the ‘Lighter Side‘, as it were.  No doubt, they have spent considerable time on a mountainside somewhere in India chanting endless mantras for months on end and also probably believe in the existence of aliens, Sasquatch, ghosts, fairies, unicorns and pots of gold hidden at the end of the rainbow.  I can spot these particular types of practitioners as the one’s who sit patiently and alertly on their mats ready to engage anybody in debate about karma, spirituality, astrology, numerology, or whatever other hip ‘ology‘  which happens to be currently in style…or even just about the weird dream they had last night.  For whatever reason, these types of yogis tend to zero in on me specifically and I can’t count how many times I’ve had to politely rebuke their advances; I must have “Save Me” written across my forehead or something.  I respect everyone’s right to believe in and practice whatever they wish if it provides them with a sense of completeness and peace in this crazy world but, for Heavens Sake, please don’t assume that this same sense of fulfillment should apply to absolutely everyone; they’re like the Mormons in this regard.  If there was a garden hose in the room I might have the sudden urge to turn it on them.

The Jock Yogi – Now this type of yogi I can closely associate with.  In fact, if not for the fact that they also probably practice 4-5 times a week (like myself), I wouldn’t even consider them a yogi at all.  The Jock yogi has little interest, nor affiliation with the Trendy, the OCD, or the Spiritual Warrior  yogis; they’re practicing solely because they either understand and have experienced the multiple benefits that yoga provides to their own passions in life whether it be triathlon, long distance running, weight lifting or perhaps they just like to pound other peoples faces into hamburger inside a steel cage, whatever, the Jock yogi gets that yoga is a nice compliment for an otherwise active and healthy lifestyle.  The Jock yogi will often turn up with little else than a faded beach towel for a mat and a ‘TapOut’ hoodie to practice in; it’s not about looking the part but rather than having a good stretch before the afternoon’s kickboxing class.  Don’t be afraid to practice beside the Jock yogi, though, but don’t look to swap spiritual mumbo-jumbo with them either as they don’t give a Fig Newton about your enlightened ideas and are likely to drop-kick you back into the Stone Age, or slap a guillotine chokehold on you and snap your neck like a chicken bone before using your spinal column to pick their teeth.

The Retired Yogi – I love these types of yogis and feel more at home practicing beside them as they typically are least assuming personality in the studio.  The Retired yogi is just that: a retiree who has taken up yoga as a means of keeping active, staying healthy, and staving off boredom by getting out of the house regularly. I have found these types of yogis to be friendly and conversational as if they were playing Bridge down at the local recreational center instead of exchanging ‘Downward Dogs’ in a yoga studio.  Sometimes, they will even stay for 2-3  classes in a row before picking up an ‘Iced Caramel Macchiato’  from Starbucks before rushing home to catch Oprah.  They are typically neat and orderly, but very unassumingly so.  They may not be the most skilled or the most bendy-twisty, but they definitely have the best attitude towards yoga in my opinion.  However, never assume that the Retired yogi is not skilled, as depending on how long and how often they have been practicing, they may have the flexibility of an Olympic gymnast and can twist themselves into poses that would cripple you – so don’t get too cocky either.

The Orgasmic Yogi – If ever there was a type of yogi that binds my compression shorts in a twist –even more so than the Spiritual Warrior yogi – it’s the Orgasmic yogi.  You will instantly know this yogi by the loud grunts of pleasure and pain emanating from their general location.  No matter what they’re doing, whether it’s the difficult ‘Wheel’  pose or just laying quietly in ‘Shavasana’,  the Orgasmic yogi will be grunting away in ecstasy like a porn star in heat.  Seriously, I’m happy you’re happy and that your practice brings you so much pleasure, but do you have to make all that racket?  I find this particular type of yogi to be very distracting during my practice as I seldom find it hard to focus and concentrate when I’m working out next to someone who may, or may not, be caught in the grip of multiple orgasms.  It’s like doing yoga beside Maria Sharapova.

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