Do people really make friends in yoga and cooking classes?
October 19, 2010 10:58 PM   Subscribe

Do people really make friends in yoga and cooking classes?

I've seen these suggested as ways to make friends. I've taken yoga classes, but no one really talks to each other at all. I've never taken a cooking class but it doesn't seem like an easy environment in which to make friends if the class only meets once.

Are these suggestions just wrong? Or is there some sort of secret to making friends in these environments?
posted by rwatson to Human Relations (25 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I've never made friends in a yoga class -- and, in fact, I go out of my way to take yoga classes that are filled with people I don't know so that I never have to talk to anyone before, during, or after, because I find that it really interrupts my yoga-induced peacefulness/exhaustion.

If someone asked me, I'd probably suggest something like a book group or a knitting/crocheting group as prime places to make friends -- those are places where people are already talking and chatting with each other about something they have in common. It's natural to suggest, once the enforced time period of the group meeting is over, taking the discussion to a bar/cafe/diner to continue talking and hanging out over food and/or drinks.
posted by shamash at 11:04 PM on October 19, 2010 [6 favorites]

if you want to make friends at yoga, you have to go to the same class every week, or at least at regular times, so you start noticing/being noticed by the other regulars as a regular yourself and then eventually you end up making small talk before or after class. the yoga/cooking class recommendation is just shorthand for the fact that making small talk with people you meet through some kind of shared interest is how most people make friends.
posted by lia at 11:05 PM on October 19, 2010 [11 favorites]

A friend of mine met her fiancé at yoga. And she met her ex at a cooking class. So...
posted by dfriedman at 11:09 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I met one of my best friends in a yoga class (though he was the instructor, so I don't know if that's quite the situation you're getting at -- but anyway, he and I struck up a conversation after class one day and have been close pals ever since).

I haven't taken any cooking classes, so I can't speak for those, but I have taken writing classes and made a couple of good friends that way, too (with both instructors and fellow students). Everyone's reading outloud, so it encourages regular interaction and a sort of "getting to know you" atmosphere.
posted by scody at 11:10 PM on October 19, 2010

I can't speak to cooking class, but I nth the fact that at yoga class I'm not at all interested in talking to people.

If you're looking for ways to meet people, you want to try situations where interactions are required (not optional, like yoga class). Try a team sport, like volleyball at the Y (for example), where you're pretty much forced to become friends with your teammates, and you're a lot more likely to end up going out for a beer with a few people afterwards.
posted by auto-correct at 11:54 PM on October 19, 2010

My friends who meet people at yoga tend to go to, uh, trendy (expensive, expensive, expensive) studios where 20-somethings hang out. In my experience if you're taking a local class or not paying through the nose, then people are not interested in socializing.
posted by anaelith at 1:24 AM on October 20, 2010

I go to the ten-buck matinee yoga class in the utterly no-frills studio by my house, and no one really gets social. I expect it's different at, say, the giant famous-name power yoga studio in my town's shopping distrinct, which always has a line literally around the block (preventing me from getting into the Goodwill for thrifting).
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 1:31 AM on October 20, 2010

There is a secret. For a class to be sociable, at least one of the people in it has to make the (sometimes considerable) effort to begin making smalltalk, to be interested in the other people there, to suggest meeting outside class, offering to do small favours such as lifts home, and so on.

Sometimes a class will go for months having nobody speaking, until someone joins who makes this effort, and suddenly the whole class forms a social group together.

It's easier to do this in classes where talking to one another is expected as part of the class, but that doesn't make it impossible in a yoga class. Of course, if the entire class is composed of people who really want to stay focussed in the Yoga Zone and don't want to talk to anyone, you won't have any luck. But you won't know unless you try.
posted by emilyw at 2:46 AM on October 20, 2010 [4 favorites]

I haven't made any friends at my yoga class yet, though everyone seems nice. However, before class I lie on my mat with my eyes closed, and after class I scoot out the door without milling in the lobby to chat. I wouldn't mind making friends with them, but it's not a goal of mine, and my default routine doesn't make it easy for anyone to approach me.

The problem with suggestions like "meet friends at a class!" is that, if you're introverted or shy, it's only part of the equation. It gets you around people, but you have to figure out how turn those people into friends on your own. Unfortunately, that's the hard part, but if you work on that you can make friends more easily anywhere.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:09 AM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think some of it depends on the instructor as well. Our yoga instructor is very good at forming a feeling of social but also balances that with the people who want to be left alone. So among five regulars or so, she'll say things like "we're going to do Amy's least favorite pose now" and the social regulars will all chuckle and roll our eyes and the non social regulars will just go through the motions without us. No hard feelings on either end. But we're a weekly class that meets the same night/time with drop ins but also a core of regulars.

I think people have mentioned above that it's about picking up cues as well - if people are obviously invested in their own personal pre class routine, don't disturb that. But if others are standing in the hallway around the water fountain chatting, that's the social hub to join in on. Same goes for after class - our studio is next to a non-chain organic grocery store so the social people among the regulars all tended to meander over after class and bump into each other in the dairy section - which turned into a small group who hang out in the cafe. During class - not so much with the "hey let's get a drink after this downward facing dog" as much as in the elevator down "hey did you see the cafe is going to start carrying vegan brownies?"
posted by librarianamy at 4:56 AM on October 20, 2010

I haven't really made friends with anyone in yoga, though I've been friendly with people from yoga when I met them out in the real world. On the other hand, I've become friendly acquaintances with several of the people in my bootcamp class - unlike yoga it's often team or partner drills, so there is built in communication and chatty water breaks. And there are a few friendly people in class who invite everyone over to the coffeehouse afterwards, which makes it even friendlier. One of my favorite things about this is that it's built several inter-generational friendships.

Cooking or any other classes that go on for several weeks in a row are far more likely to lead to friendships.
posted by ldthomps at 5:19 AM on October 20, 2010

There is a secret. For a class to be sociable, at least one of the people in it has to make the (sometimes considerable) effort to begin making smalltalk, to be interested in the other people there, to suggest meeting outside class, offering to do small favours such as lifts home, and so on.

Sometimes a class will go for months having nobody speaking, until someone joins who makes this effort, and suddenly the whole class forms a social group together.

This is the most true thing. I've been running classes for the past 9 months or so, and it's become very very obvious that the only difference between a quiet class and a sociable one is That One Talky Person.
posted by soma lkzx at 5:26 AM on October 20, 2010 [7 favorites]

Yeah, a cooking class that meets once probably isn't going to do the trick unless the person you met turned out to be a friend-of-a-friend or something. I have gotten bona-fide friends out of photography class, though (weekly class for 10 or 12 weeks). I think what helps in that case is that the students have to comment on each other's work, and that conversation ends up continuing when people discover each other's personalities and ideas in common.
posted by xo at 5:28 AM on October 20, 2010

I've met tons of people in all situations, such as classes or on the bus, but the number one thing that ties them together is that I saw the same people over and over and after awhile I found that the meeting people takes care of itself through the repetition. So, my advice is to find a cooking class that meets over something like a ten week period.
posted by josher71 at 6:06 AM on October 20, 2010

I used to take dance classes. As we were changing back into our street clothes one day a woman asked if anyone wanted to go out for a drink. I did, we became friends.

Don't be chatty in class, just casually ask at the end of class if anyone wants to do x. If no one does the first time try it again in a couple of weeks.
posted by mareli at 7:33 AM on October 20, 2010

If you're not the sort of "comfortable in any situation and likely to strike up a conversation with your neighbor" type, a class or activity with more required interaction might be better. Something like a book club, a stitch & bitch group, a creative writing class, a choral group -- something where people are forced to work together for the end result will grease the wheels a bit. If you're interested in exercise, something like karate or boxing might be better, usually the teachers ask people to spar together or at least get in one another's way.
posted by pazazygeek at 7:36 AM on October 20, 2010

I've never made friends in a yoga class, and have attended many over the years, even going to the same class every week. I'm not especially introverted or shy, but I do find that for me, yoga is something that leads to quiet reflection after class rather than a feeling of "Hey, let's get coffee and chat a while!"

I have, however, made a number of friends from taking a ukulele class! I had no idea when I started that it would lead to the social connections that it has - it's been amazing. I will say that I was the one who made the initial effort - when our class went on break in between sessions, I just announced to the room that I'd be open to meeting up with anyone who wanted to practice during the break. Minimal effort, maximum benefits - the worst that could have happened was nobody would have accepted. Instead, a couple of people did, which has led to a core group of around 5 people who meet a couple times a week.
posted by chez shoes at 7:50 AM on October 20, 2010

I think one of the key things is that the class represents something you can really bond with someone over. If you feel like "people who do yoga" in general represent the sort of people who you are likely to become friends with (and I recognize that's a huge generalization, but work with me for a minute) then I think you're more likely to make friends in a yoga class, whereas if it's something you enjoy but don't necessarily connect with people about, then it's less likely. It's partly just timing and how outgoing you are, and all that, but I do think there's a component of comfort that comes out when you just feel like you're among people you already relate to.

When I went to a creative writing retreat that featured certain writers I admired, I naturally opened up to other people there - it wasn't a rational decision, but it was easy to start trying to make friends. There was a background of shared interest already set up. When I go to a yoga class, I am friendly to people in the dressing room, but also kind of shy. I think this is because on some level I doubt that we necessarily have much in common. We both enjoy yoga, but that is a small part of my personality, and probably a small part of theirs. It's a bigger risk to engage.

If, on the other hand, yoga is a big part of your life, and you go to a yoga retreat, or a class where mostly other serious yoga people are attending then I think you are more likely to find it easy to make friends. Or, if you are the sort of person who makes friends with their neighbor or whoever sits next to them on the bus, who just finds it easy in general to connect with anyone - but then I don't think you'd ask this question...
posted by mdn at 8:14 AM on October 20, 2010

Response by poster: Thank you for all of the helpful ways of thinking about this! I'm not necessarily looking to make friends in yoga class, I was just mystified at seeing these suggestions. I wouldn't mind making friends in a cooking class, but that is flavored by mdn's way of thinking about it.
posted by rwatson at 8:32 AM on October 20, 2010

Late to the party as always. but I met my (first) wife at yoga class in college. However, it was meeting outside, after class, that began the relationship - the shared experience of yoga class was the icebreaker for tentative first conversations.
posted by cairnish at 9:02 AM on October 20, 2010

My cousin met her husband at yoga class.
posted by HotToddy at 9:16 AM on October 20, 2010

Ugh. I HATE when people try to make chitchat with me at yoga or the gym. That is my time to de-stress, and i consider it an imposition and a violation of my personal space. The only acceptable time for talking is before or after if the other person is there giving a lengthy window of time. (Those who don't wish to talk will get there only right before and take off right after). If you're trying to make friends, it has to be when the street clothes are on.

Cooking classes, I'm not sure. But if you're looking for people who have the same interests as you to make friends with, why not go to where those people are looking for social time too? Volunteer for a cause that interests you...political party? Animal shelter? Anything at all. You'll make friends and also make a positive difference in the world!

To be fair, when you say "meet people" you mean just friends right? Because meeting people of the opposite sex for romantical friendlyships gets an entirely different set of advice.
posted by custard heart at 12:46 PM on October 20, 2010

My list of anecdotal pseudo data also includes at least one wedding. (Which, like cairnish's first marriage, did not last.*)

You have to meet people somewhere - why not yoga?

(*cairnish, if I misread and your first wife died, sorry for your loss and sorry for misreading.)
posted by Lesser Shrew at 5:48 PM on October 20, 2010

When I go to yoga, it's to focus on my breath, the way my body moves, and focus on how I hold each pose and breathe through it - basically yoga is about me, myself and I. I leave after sivasana in a bit of a zone, holding on to the quiet that I achieved inside for as long as I possibly can.

Photography, however, WOW that's another story altogether. I live in Vancouver, and I have made several - nay, many - friends with this wonderful hobby. I met them through flickr or hiking clubs. As was mentioned upthread, photography is really only marginally about taking the picture, and it's wonderfully social. Photographers discuss cameras with one another, lenses, exposure, light, the environment that they are now in, the environment that they would like to be in ("hey, let's go to that hike to the first peak of Seymour this weekend and see what this week's fog does to the trees!"). And you know, whether you have a point and shoot, an iPhone or the latest Canon full-frame with the big zoom lens, there's a group of people to talk with, to compare gear with, and aspire to sharper and more expensive lenses. Or use what ya got.

And form relationships with. Friendly or more.

And maybe some of these folks are yoga students too :)
posted by seawallrunner at 9:32 PM on October 20, 2010

I can't name any friendships that started in yoga class, in a music class, or on the bus, but three of my friendships are people who I first saw there. Meaning, I didn't talk to people at the time; finished the class session without learning anybody's name but perhaps the instructor. The friendship started with the unexpected standing-at-the-supermarket moment staring at each other wordlessly screaming "why do I know you?!?!"

I talked with the nice lady at the grocery store until we figured out we both used to take the #8 bus until my temp job changed, but then she said, since I asked if we knew each other from a dance event, did that mean I could recommend a group for her, and we started seeing each other everywhere.

Even though a non-social class doesn't necessarily make you friends, it can start stitching you into a network that turns solid when you get another connection.
posted by aimedwander at 10:57 AM on October 21, 2010

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