Interpreting Social and Cultural Behavior Essay

Submitted By deags
Words: 1793
Pages: 8

Interpreting Social and Cultural Behavior and
Observations Understood and Not Understood

Interpreting Social and Cultural Behavior and
Observations Understood and Not Understood
Observation not Thoroughly Understood
It wasn’t until my first hot yoga class that my heating bill finally dropped. I always loved the heat, so what changed? Every winter used to be a long battle of keeping the wood stove full to the brim while constantly increasing the thermostat for the oil furnace. I now cannot seem to enjoy the heat the same anymore, and this is because I experienced the hot temperatures of a Bikram yoga studio. Maybe it was the uncomfortable looking poses, the drill-sergeant like instructors or the fact that I had no idea what I was doing.
As the sweat began to accumulate on my face in the 39 degrees Celsius studio, I found myself analyzing each individual’s yoga techniques. Many seemed to be taking the class very seriously, perhaps to better their inner-self, however, others took it very calmly, which displayed a great sense of relaxation. This sense of seriousness was most likely displayed by the instructor’s drill-sergeant like attitude towards the class, causing a leadership role to form. Power was shown in her leadership roles, and according to Schmidt (2006), power affects interpretation. In this case, the class is following the instructor’s idea of what the class should be like - serious and structured.
One of the main interpretations I’ve always had about yoga is the relaxation and leisure aspect, however this was one thing I did not experience during my observation of hot yoga. The class was uncomfortable at times, to the point that laughing things off would have lightened the mood, but in this classroom I feared the risk of being asked to leave if I was to even crack a smirk. This does not portray relaxation to me, however this may be misinterpreted because I did not physically participate, I was simply an observer. The trouble with being an observer, according to Packer (1985), is that observers don’t have direct unproblematic access to the unambiguous meaning of the act-taking place. This may have happened in this case because I did not share the action fully; therefore I am unable to comprehend the action completely.
Although I did not engage in the activity of bikram yoga, I was still on the sidelines questioning the participants reasoning behind attending the class. Majority of the class did seem interested in the activity they were doing, however there was one or two that seemed to be lacking attention. This lack of attention was shown by the participants not completing all instructions and seemed to be taking more breaks than usual. In my opinion, I believe they were not interested in the benefits of yoga itself, and perhaps were there just to feel better about trying to be active. It also came to my attention that there was only one male in the class, and he was not participating with a number of the poses. It appeared to me that he was spending most of the time on the sidelines to learn the techniques, or perhaps he was enjoying the view of the several women in little to no clothing.
I was also experiencing a great deal of frustration from participants, and I believe this was because they were newcomers. I considered the possibility that they were newcomers because they were unable to complete the difficult poses. These difficult poses seemed to be causing the participants to enter crisis-mode because they were not able to do the activity correctly, and the instructor brought this to the attention of the class, just to add to their frustration. Along with this crisis-mode, I could feel another heat wave reach their face from the sign of the reddened cheeks. Experiencing this from the sidelines made me feel as if I made the right choice by not participating in the fast paced environment. It was clear that this environment was not beneficial for learners, and I could feel