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Yoga Manners for Sweaty Men

10/10/2013 03:39 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

Yoga teaches us to accept what we cannot change. However, I cannot accept that yogic principles should be used to tolerate poor manners. I have been practicing hot yoga since 2008, and even after performing thousands of sun salutations, I still feel like throwing my yoga block at men who sweat excessively or wear thin white shorts to class.

My teachers emphasize ad nauseum that it is positive to share energy with others in class. I opine that the sharing must stop at sweat. I posit that if yogis share studio space, that each one has a duty to prevent the floor from resembling the Venetian Canals ("Sweaty Situation"), and consequently forcing fellow yogis to become unwitting riparian mat dwellers ("Victims").

I have taken yoga classes in several studios and observed that the Sweaty Situation arises when a man is performing hot yoga. Typically, as the class heats up this man sounds like a dripping faucet that pierces hard-won concentration. The distracted Victims turn towards the noise and observe in abject horror a man sweating profusely on his mat, who is paying scant attention to the fact that his sweat is spreading to the Victims' mats.

The Victims, imprisoned by the rules of silence and respect, are then either forced to squirm on their mats, praying that the sweat will rush past them or to subtly shift their mat. The latter option is challenging as wet mats sound like ripping Velcro when they are lifted from the damp floor. Afterwards, the Victims are forced to pirouette out of class like rejects from Swan Lake to avoid direct contact with the man's sweat.

I understand that we must sweat. However, I am dumbfounded that none of these men 1) observe that they sweat profusely; 2) their sweat spreads; and 3) it only takes a couple of towels placed around their mats to prevent the Sweaty Situation.

The modern laissez-faire response to the Victims' plight is that these men wouldn't likely mind if the Victims' sweat touched their mats, after all it is yoga and we should let things go. I suggest that if I involuntarily shared my phlegm, another bodily emission, with these men via an errant swipe or a strong sneeze, that I would not be met with a charitable reaction.

If you understand my disgust, then brace yourself for the horror of thin, white shorts, which become transparent during a hot yoga class ("Transparency Principle").

How can male yogis attend class wearing thin, white shorts forget about the Transparency Principle? Again, common sense would prevent many unwitting victims from being traumatized whilst performing the Downward-Facing Dog pose, when they dutifully bend over, look between their legs, and unwittingly observe the Transparency Principle in full swing at a neighboring mat or worse, a wet bum.

I agree that everyone has the right to express themselves through clothing, and that includes the right to wear thin, white shorts. Nevertheless, I question, why a man wearing thin, white sweaty shorts that become transparent to point of becoming a potentially indecent act under section 173 of the Criminal Code of Canada, is tolerated in the yoga studio? How does location render the indecency benign?

I humbly suggest that opaque butter yellow shorts made with sweat-wicking material is a viable alternative. You have a nice light color, without inviting glances into the Criminal Code. Men should select their shorts carefully, and not be so opaque when it comes to the Transparency Principle.

The golden thread that unites my gripes about yoga is the lack of courtesy that some male yogis fail to apply to their practice. Just because yoga teaches us acceptance does not mean that any yogi should have carte blanche to sully a neighbour's mat with his sweat or to traumatize a fellow yogi with the sight of his flaccid phallus or wet bum.

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