Not those kinds of yoga balls.
July 7, 2006 7:56 PM   Subscribe

I recently started taking yoga and on more than one occasion I have been in class behind a man who was wearing...revealing undergarments.

Loose shorts, loose boxers, and a variety of yoga poses results in flashing of sweaty, hairy, man parts. I always just avert my gaze and try to unfocus my eyes but our gazes are usually directed to assist with posture so it's hard to not know it's there even if I'm not staring directly into the maw of the beast. Ahem. I always wonder if these guys are aware of the extent of their exposure and if I would be doing them (and the rest of class) a favor by alerting them. Should I instead be working on my ability to concentrate and ignoring all worldly thoughts? What is the yogic thing to do here? Considering how embarassed some people get at being told they have spinach in their teeth, I'm not sure how much a guy would appreciate being told the woman behind him just totally saw his package. Hell, I'm embarassed enough to be asking this anonymously because I want to avoid being known as "hurf durf testicle inspector."
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (24 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'd tell the teacher about it and then have them make some sort of announcement to the class about what kind of attire was most "comfortable" blah blah.
posted by sweetkid at 8:06 PM on July 7, 2006

What sweetkid suggested may be your only rational recourse.

Oh, and if you're not already, consider being a writer. Your post was hilarious.
posted by rinkjustice at 8:16 PM on July 7, 2006

You could try moving.
posted by xmutex at 8:35 PM on July 7, 2006

I think nearly all yogic-thought experts would agree that true, pure yogic-thought is premised on NOT having sweaty balls in your face. It's a prerequisite.

I'd just mention it to the instructor. Lots of guys don't own more than boxer shorts and loose gym shorts. Some boxer briefs (or compression shorts, even better) would help out here immensely.
posted by MrZero at 9:08 PM on July 7, 2006

over here in Vancouver, there's the other problem in some of the yoga studios - women wearing clothing that is much too revealing (esp in some poses).

the approach that the studios took was simple, talks at the beginning or at the end of the class about appropriate yoga clothing (sweetkid nails it - they talk about comfortable and non-distracting clothing). There are also discreet signs about the yoga studio not being a beach, so dress appropriately. Something too about allowing everyone to concentrate on yoga instead of on the attractive person near them.

If done with humour without upset, announcements and signage will do wonders about appropriate yoga attire for both sexes.
posted by seawallrunner at 9:17 PM on July 7, 2006

"Man, this is a family place. Put the mouse back in the house."
posted by Dipsomaniac at 9:25 PM on July 7, 2006

I'm not sure how much a guy would appreciate being told the woman behind him just totally saw his package

First, the advice given above by others is, in my view, correct.

...however, consider the possibility that they're doing it on purpose. I'm serious.

I mention this largely because it means there's the possibility that telling the instructor won't work. I'm not saying it will happen, just that it could, and that you should think about what you're going to do if it does.

Then again, I am generally acknowledged to be spectacularly bitter and cynical about human motivations and this sort of thing.
posted by aramaic at 11:11 PM on July 7, 2006

I don't get it. I've done tons of yoga classes (different kinds at different studios), and I've never seen this. Maybe I subconsciously place my mat such that this has never, ever happened to me. Or maybe when it happened I moved my mat before my conscious mind registered the traumatizing experience. Can't you just avoid it? Try sitting in the front or something.

I also wouldn't tell them. I have come to class dressed loosely myself and realized mid-pose that someone with the right angle could, ahem. And not worn those clothes again. I would most definitely not have wanted someone to have confirmed that, yes in fact, they could.
posted by salvia at 2:20 AM on July 8, 2006

Never mind the bollocks.

I'd class this alongside copious nostril hair and fat people in tight clothing: things that you may not like but just have to put up with. It's not other peoples responsibility to be aesthetically pleasing.

If possible, try not to position yourself behind baggy-shorted males.

I had the impression yoga was pretty skewed towards females, so not sure how big a problem this really is. You say "more than once" rather than "often". If it happens every week it might be some kind of perverse harrassment and you should definitely tell the instructor. But if it's every few months it sounds just accidental: something you'll just have to put up with if you're going to spend a lot of time in roomfuls of contorted people.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 3:05 AM on July 8, 2006

Get to class early and get a spot at the front of the room.
posted by elisabeth r at 6:48 AM on July 8, 2006

sweetkid's got it. His downward facing dog shouldn't result in dog balls in your face. If he doesn't wrap up his package appropriately the instructor should be advising him to find another studio.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 6:52 AM on July 8, 2006

To answer the question of whether a gentleman knows when his dangly bits are swinging in the breeze, I can't imagine being unaware of that sensation. I wear baggy knee-length shorts to do yoga and can immediately notice when a pose aligns my shorts in such a way as to allow a cool breeze up my shorts. You'd have to be a hurf durf testicle inspector to catch a glimpse of anything but thigh. And because said dangly bits are covered 90% of the time, it is near impossible not notice when the bat leaves the cave.

The yogic thing to do would be find a new place to set you mat. I don't think Mr. Bits is embarrassed or unaware, so unless you find it very disturbing, live and let live.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 8:27 AM on July 8, 2006

TheophileEscargot writes "It's not other peoples responsibility to be aesthetically pleasing."

Perhaps not. But as a society, there's a general agreement that certain body parts are kept covered. Nothing to do with aesthetics, and everything to do with GET YOUR BITS OUT MY FACE.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:59 AM on July 8, 2006

I always like to find a spot in the front of the room, so as to not be distracted by my fellow students. See seawallrunner's post above.
posted by bug138 at 10:21 AM on July 8, 2006

dirtynumbangelboy: There's certainly a convention. Wouldn't describe it as an agreement since you don't really get to choose whether to agree to it or not.

But an occasional, accidental, breach of convention shouldn't really upset anybody.

I suspect that if at all appropriate, words like "frequently" or "regularly" or "occasionally" would have been used rather than "more than once"; and that here "more than once" means "twice".

I wonder if there might be other factors involved here.

Yoga is mostly a women's activity. A quick google says that 77% of yoga practitioners are female. Could it be that on some level the author resents the presence of men at her class, and wants to cause them a bit of embarrassment?
posted by TheophileEscargot at 10:34 AM on July 8, 2006

Jeez Theopile, way to extrapolate. There are lots of women-only workout places and yoga studios out there. Anonymous is free to frequent one of those if she feels the way you think she does.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 10:41 AM on July 8, 2006

My solution?

Get to class early.

Remove contacts.

Place mat at the very front of the room so the only person I can see is the instructor.

And TheophileEscargot? Way to project. I don't attend yoga class to check out dangly bits, whether male or female, and having an expectation of reasonably-agreed-upon bounderies is not the same as 'resenting the presence of men at class.'

I'm sure nude yoga is available to Mr. Dangly Bits should he choose to seek it out.

(Now to the real question: What to do about the ubiquitous Mad Farter?)
posted by Space Kitty at 12:10 PM on July 8, 2006

Well, try some compare and contrast, to this for instance.

Suppose this Ask Metafilter was by a man who uses the free weights room at his gym, and is complaining that on two occasions, he's seen womens' breasts pop out of their clothing, subjecting him to "flashing of sweaty, fat woman parts."

Would people be saying, "yes, that's disgusting, get the instructor to tell them to make sure it never happens"?
posted by TheophileEscargot at 12:15 PM on July 8, 2006

IMHO, men are waaaay more visual than women. A man is more likely to enjoy an accidental flash by a woman a hell of a lot more than vice versa. Especially down there. I don't know many women who are excited by random crotch flashes. But, you know, maybe that's just how I roll....*shrug*
posted by CwgrlUp at 2:23 PM on July 8, 2006

I'm a guy who does yoga (in a 50/50 mixed-gender class), and I wear bike shorts. If the bike shorts aren't clean, I wear baggy gym shorts with compression shorts underneath, because I'm not entirely sure that if I were flopping around loose, I'd notice. Yoga is hard, and I have enough difficulty remembering to breathe sometimes. I've overheard another instructor asking our instructor what to do in this exact situation. I wish I had heard what my instructor's advice was.

If I were you, anonymous, I'd ask the instructor to give some sort of "what is and is not appropriate clothing" talk before class some day. It doesn't have to focus on the problem of flashing, either. It's important to be able to see which way your knees are pointing, for example. So maybe your instructor could toss the "you don't want your balls flapping in other students' faces" advice in with other advice about what makes good yoga wear, all casual-like and without any pointed glances or anything.
posted by hades at 12:26 AM on July 9, 2006

I do yoga 3-4 times a week and I can't say this has ever been a problem for me in any of my classes. (And I've been in classes where the majority of the students were men.)

I think directing your gaze shouldn't really involve staring at other students, should it? Most of the instructions for directed gaze I've seen have been referencing your own body parts -- look down at the end of your nose, look out past your fingers, etc. Can't you just concentrate on your own appendages?

One of the things I most like about yoga classes is that I'm so focused on myself that it doesn't feel like the "show" that goes on at a gym. One of the other things I like is that the underlying philosophy would seem to discourage monetary expenditures for unnecessary new clothing. It seems like making this an issue -- and judging others for not living up to your standards in this -- would be violating both those tenets to some extent.

On the other hand, I practice in large studios with relatively few people, and the few times I've been in crowded studios where you're mat-to-mat with 30 other people, I've wanted to kill everyone around me.

More info from Yoga Journal

Drishti Tips

As with many spiritual techniques, with drishti there is a danger of mistaking the technique for the goal. You should dedicate your use of the body (including the eyes) to transcending your identification with it. So when you look at an object during your practice, don't focus on it with a hard gaze. Instead, use a soft gaze, looking through it toward a vision of cosmic unity. Soften your focus to send your attention beyond outer appearance to inner essence.

...In general, practitioners should use the various bahya (external) gazing points during more externally oriented yoga practices, including asanas, kriyas (cleansing practices), seva (the service work of karma yoga), and bhakti (devotion); use the antara (internal) gaze to enhance contemplative and meditative practices. If you find yourself closing the eyes during any practice and focusing on the dramas or perplexities of life instead of being able to maintain a neutral, detached focus, re-establish an outer gaze. On the other hand, if the outer gaze becomes a distraction to your concentration, perhaps an inner-directed correction is necessary.

posted by occhiblu at 12:17 AM on July 10, 2006

It also might help to talk to your teacher not necessarily about "fixing" other students, but about how you're getting distracted by the people around you, and ask if he or she has any advice for getting over that. (Not to put all the blame on you, but it would seem that the "yogic" answers you're looking for would involve change on your part, not on others'.)
posted by occhiblu at 12:20 AM on July 10, 2006

Yoga instructor here.

Typically, you do most yoga poses with your eyes closed, except for the standing and balancing postures (For which you should focus your gaze on a spot on the wall or floor) It is better for the goal of becoming more internally focused. A really good instructor should be able to guide you with words, and not need to demonstrate postures. If demonstrations are necessary for difficult to articulate postures, completely focus on watching your instructor.
posted by delladlux at 3:27 PM on July 10, 2006

I dunno if women-only would necessarily solve the problem of crotch-gazing, though it would avoid the sweaty balls.

At my gym, the non-yoga classes have a 5-10 minute period of ab work, which means everyone's lying on the floor. Guess what, girls who wear boxers to work out, I can see up your shorts in great detail. *sigh*
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:54 PM on July 11, 2006

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