|Posted by Laura Germanio OTR, RYT, LMT, CLT on May 15, 2011 at 2:47 PM|
YOGA ETIQUETTE: How to conduct yourself in yoga class
Most of this is common sense and showing respect to each other, but just in case you want to make sure you are aware of the appropriate yoga etiquette here is a list:
1. Arrive on time: when students enter class late, arrange their things, pick up props, and roll out their mat it is very distracting …to the other students and to the teacher. Everyone is late once in a while, but make your best effort to arrive on time so that you and the other students will be able to settle into their practice and concentrate.
2. Remove your shoes: when you practice in a yoga studio they will expect you to remove your shoes before entering the room where yoga is practiced to keep the floor extra clean. In other locations it may be ok to enter with your shoes on and place them next to your mat, or along the wall. Survey the situation to determine if shoes must be removed before entering. You will be getting up close and personal with the floor so you will want it to be clean!
3. Turn your cell phone off! Better yet turn it off and leave it in another room. A cell phone ringing (or vibrating) during class will distract the other students and the teacher. When you enter a yoga class you are dedicating yourself to the practice of yoga for the duration of the class. If you are checking your cell phone, or texting your friends during class then have broken your concentration and you are missing the whole point of the experience. Your yoga practice is a break from the rest of your day. If you have an issue that cannot wait until class is over then you may want to skip class that day in order to be respectful to the teacher and other students.
4. Stay for the Duration of class: Don’t skip out early- your yoga practice is designed to build up to our final posture: Savasana. This pose is the ultimate destination of your practice and considered by many the MOST important part of your practice. If you have difficulty staying still in savasana then you probably need it even more then you know. In savasana we learn how to find stillness and relaxation with the body while maintaining focus with the mind (that is yoga in a nutshell!) If you have to leave early for some reason let the teacher know at the start of class and position yourself near the door so you can slip out with a minimum of distraction to others. If for some reason you do not like the class you should try to make the most of it and see it through to the end out of respect for the teacher. If you find that you did not like that teacher’s style then you know not to attend their class in the future.
5. Nature calls!: at some point during the yoga class you may need to go to the bathroom. Wait for a time during class when you can slip out easily (such as during a longer hold of down dog, or during child’s pose). If you need to blow your nose or if you have a coughing/sneezing spell feel free to step out into the hall until you have recovered.
6. Modifications welcome: we are not mind readers, so if a pose is too difficult or if you feel pain be sure to modify a pose to your level. With that in mind- if you modify a pose to make it easier or harder, make sure you are doing a variation of the pose everyone else is practicing. Don’t go off and work on a completely different pose, unless instructed to do so by the teacher. Completely disregarding the teacher’s instruction is disrespectful. The teacher has most likely put a good deal of thought and planning into the sequences and poses in class, so be respectful of their plan.
7. Move your mat: be respectful of others personal space. If a student comes in move your mat to make room for all. If you find that your arm or leg is constantly bumping the person next to you then stagger your mat- move up a few inches so that you will miss bumping each other. Some classes can be very crowded so check where your arms and legs are going when moving out of the perimeter of your mat so you don’t hit your neighbor- and if it does accidently happen that’s ok…we are all friends here…smile and continue with your practice.
8. Be kind to the nose: In yoga we focus on breath through the nose, so try to avoid using lots of perfume, lotion or other fragrances during class. This can be distracting and for some may trigger headaches. The same goes for less pleasant odors…be sure to wear deodorant and wash your feet as we will all be barefoot and in close confines.
9. Don’t interrupt the teacher: A time may come where you have a question during class, however unless it is somewhat of an emergency refrain from yelling it out for all to hear. This breaks up the flow of class and is distracting to the other students. If you are unsure of a certain aspect of a pose make a mental note of it and approach the teacher after class is over. At that point they will be able to answer your question in depth without taking away from the rest of the class. If you have a comment about class, such as “can you please turn the music down” please also save that for the end of class. We are always open to constructive criticism, but it must be presented at an appropriate time (after class). If you must talk to the teacher right away then get their attention as subtly as you can and beckon them over to you. This way the rest of the class can maintain their focus. If the teacher feels that the information would benefit the entire class they will make it known.
10. Shhhhhh: When entering a yoga studio there may currently be another class going on- and chances are if they are wraping up everyone is in meditation. It can be very distracting if there is noise in the hallway, so try to keep your voice down and quietly put your things away. You would expect the same respect from others during the end of your practice. The same applies to the start of class- many students like to begin stretching or meditation before the class starts, so as you enter the room please be mindful of this. It is ok to have a quiet conversation with the person seated next to you before the teacher begins class, but keep your voice down as others prepare for their yoga practice.
11. Keep noises appropriate: We all have times in class where a pose feels sooo good that you have to let out a sigh. This is ok and may even be recommended by the teacher at times to get a deeper release in the pose. Just be sure that you are doing this at appropriate times and not letting the sounds become excessive or distracting to others. A note on sounds: if you are grunting to get into a pose that pose is too difficult and you should not be forcing yourself into the position.
12. Clean up after yourself: If you borrow a mat from the studio or the teacher be sure to wipe it down, neatly roll it up and return it to where you got it. If you used props- same deal- return them neatly to their location. If you have to leave class early ask the teacher if you should clean up. In some cases the teacher will ask you to leave your props out so that you do not create noise putting them away. The teacher will put them away for you at the end of class so that you can slip out the back without creating distraction.
13. Take all distraction in stride: yoga is about dealing with stress appropriately and keeping our focus. None of us practice yoga in a bubble- from time to time a noisy truck will drive past or the CD will skip. Your job as a student is to maintain your focus and look at this as one of life’s challenges.
14. Watch your step: yogis consider their mat to be very personal and important to their practice. If someone has their mat rolled out before class be sure to walk around it. Avoid stepping on someone else’s mat.
15. Bring a towel: If you know that you sweat a lot be sure to bring a towel so that you are not dripping sweat all over. This keeps it hygienic and prevents the floor from getting slippery.
16. Relax, Don’t Sleep: In savasana make sure that you don’t fall asleep. As stated earlier this is the most important part of class and needs to be enjoyed by all. If a student is snoring next to you it is very difficult to enjoy your savasana.