Ryslow’s Pyramid: Yoga & Life Etiquette

Imagine having a few friends over at your place… and a couple of those friends brought a couple of their friends.

And after a few formalities, one of those new friends got up and started going through your drawers, commenting on the food in your refrigerator, logging into your Facebook, reorganizing your closets… and just generally doing whatever the hell they felt like.

Would you be OK with that?

No, right?

It’s your home.

And there are unspoken rules about how we should behave in someone else’s home.


We learned this stuff in first grade.


But I’m continuously amazed at the selfish, entitled behavior that happens in yoga studios…

Studios where we’re “supposed to be” practicing compassion and “becoming one with everything” or some shit.

I had to revoke a long-time students BurnPass yesterday because she flat-out refused to abide by very, very lenient “rules” about using a cell phone in class.

I didn’t embarrass her in class. I sent a very nice email, asking that she please step outside the studio if she needed to “monitor her emails.” (her words)

After a long email thread that I shouldn’t have engaged in (but it makes such great email fodder AND I was dominating in every single response)… her final response was:

“I hear you, but it’s not the policy of the studio, so I can’t promise you that I am going to abide by it. I pay for that workout and if I need to quietly monitor my emails so that I can be in class, I am going to do that. It doesn’t happen often, in fact, I rarely even bring my phone upstairs with me.”


Because you paid for something, you think you get to do whatever you want – at the expense of EVERYONE ELSE’S experience?!

Here’s your little $99 from last month and we’ll cancel your¬†BurnPass.





So I thought I would take this opportunity to lay out the “rules” for my class.

Which… really, aren’t “rules” so much as they are standard operating procedures for LIFE.

It’s How to not Be a Dick 101.

I posted about this on Facebook a few weeks ago…

That doing your own yoga practice is akin to walking into a restaraunt – sitting down – and telling the waiter “naw, man… I’m cool. I’m not really into what the Chef is doing here – but I do dig the vibe of the place, so I just ordered some food to be delivered from down the street. I’ll let you know if there’s anything you can do for me.”


You can look at the post to see the discussion… but most everyone agreed with me.

A few didn’t. But obviously, those are the people who are guilty of doing the thing that EVERY OTHER PERSON says is not cool.

#commondenominatormuch #checkyourself

Usually when someone is confronted about committing one of these ACTS OF YOGA-TREASON… the response is something like “well, if everyone was focusing on their own practice, it wouldn’t be a problem.”

How boring and tired. How about you stop regurgitating what everyone else says and wake up?

Before we start “focusing on our own practice” or worrying about our own happiness – we should first determine where we fit in and act accordingly.

I’m all for “doing you” and not worrying about what other people think.

But living your life that way doesn’t mean you get to operate without constraints.

You aren’t the center of Universe. You’re orbiting.

So… being that the majority of the people who read my stuff and come to my classes are intelligent people – instead of just making a list of hard-rules, I thought I would provide a pyramind, similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy, that provides some general guidelines.

It’s super simple.

On the base of the period is “DON’T BE A DICK.”

That comes first… which would be things like:

  • don’t blatantly disrespect the teacher or the class by doing whatever you want
  • don’t use your phone
  • don’t carry on long conversations
  • make room for people and¬†be accommodating.
  • share
  • be nice

On top of the period is “DO YOU, BOO.”

THat’s the part where you start “focusing on your own practice” and doing the things you need to do.

But you don’t start there.

Other people first.

This is why we are the dominant species.

You see, we figured out a long time ago that when we work together, we thrive and win.