Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Yoga Etiquette

Follow these simple directions, and enjoy your practice!

Select the correct class to attend.  If you are a beginner, please attend a beginner/gentle/multi-level yoga class.  This will ensure that options and variations of the poses are offered at a beginner level.  If you have taken a few weeks off from your yoga practice, then indulge yourself in a beginner/gentle/multi-level class to re-enter your practice safely.  If you are an experienced practitioner, and you have a less-experienced friend to bring, then please be considerate to your friend, and join them in an appropriate class rather than bringing them to an advanced class.  This method benefits everyone - the instructor doesn't have to be worried that the beginning student will hurt themselves in intermediate/advanced poses, the new student will leave the class feeling confident, and the experienced practitioner will get a refresher on the basics, which is always a good thing.

If it is your first time at a class, arrive early and introduce yourself to the instructor.

Wear clothing that will allow you to move freely and comfortably.  Keep in mind that yoga clothing should not reveal private body areas at any time (think about during deep stretching, twisting, or while turned upside down).

No glass/ceramics into the studio - we are all barefoot.  It is hazardous.

In the space outside the classroom, keep it quiet and encourage others to do the same out of respect for those in the classes.  Don't hold a conversation with your best friend just outside the door - it's distracting.

Avoid strong scents - avoid smoking, perfumes, and body odor before class.  It can be difficult if you've just come from a long bike ride or some other strenuous workout, but do take the time to clean up in the locker room or bathroom.  Many people have sensitivities to scents, and some can get physically ill, so it is in the best interests of the group to eliminate unnecessary odors.

Turn off your cell phone (or anything else that makes noise).  Please make sure it is on silent, rather than vibrate - in a quiet yoga room, the vibration is just as distracting as electronic beeping.

Do not chew gum at class.  Not only is it impossible to do deep breathing exercises while chewing gum, it also presents a choking hazard.

Bring a towel.  If you sweat a lot, bring two (a big one to put down on your mat, and a smaller one for wiping down your body).  Some studios provide towels, but to be safe, always bring your own.

Arrive on time - have your mat set up and ready to go before the start of class.  If you do arrive late, do not enter the class during the opening meditation/breathing exercises.  After the meditation is complete, enter very quietly and find the nearest place to lay down your mat.  If you are more than 10 minutes late - you will have missed the warm up, and you cannot attend this class - you are endangering yourself by not being properly warmed up, and you will be distracting others as they practice.

Avoid being territorial.  Do not ask others to move if they are in a place you prefer or if they are seated next to your friend - it is disruptive.  If the room is crowded, be thoughtful and make room whenever possible.

Always attempt to stager the mats to help avoid running into your neighbors during poses.

Roll out your mat quietly.  It is disturbing to have mats whipped out or smacked to the floor.

Avoid walking on other people's mats.  The mat is an extension of a personal space, even if they are shared mats in a studio.

Don't be afraid to quietly ask your yoga instructor for help if you don't have enough room to practice or if you are having trouble with anything.  A quick mention to the instructor can be the difference between an enjoyable or annoying experience.

Keep talking to a minimum, and if you must talk, use a low voice. Any yoga studio is a quiet zone.  If you have a question or need to tell the instructor something, that is completely fine, but try to keep chatter down - you can catch up with friends after class.

Respect the instructor and the other people in the class by staying within the practice and following instructions.  Avoid doing drastically different movements (example: doing headstand while everyone else is in final relaxation).  It is distracting and confusing to the other participants in the class.  If you need modifications, let that modification be in the same family of postures as the one being practiced in class. If a pose is too difficult, always feel free to modify to a less intense variation; never push yourself to a place of pain.

If you discover that you don't care for this teacher, style, or hour of the day, you should still finish the class and chalk it up to experience.  It is rude and distracting to pack up and leave after the class has begun.

Feel free to take breaks for water or the restroom.  Good times to take these breaks are during longer poses or resting poses (often during down dog or childs pose).

Do not enter/exit the room durning final relaxation.  If you must leave early, be certain to leave before everyone is laying quietly on the floor to help minimize the distraction your exit will cause.  Do not make a habit of leaving before final relaxation - plan for it in your schedule.

If you are using a shared mat from the studio or gym, always wipe it down with cleaner before putting it away.  I also recommend doing this at the start of class to ensure the mat is as clean as possible.

Leave no trace.  Make sure to clean up after yourself and put away any equipment you used.

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