Once you have attended a few yoga classes you will realise that there is an unspoken code of conduct to this discipline. It may be the saying of Namaste at the end of the class or the idea that it is rude to walk over somebody else’s mat! Unfortunately these are often not explained to new students so I am going to try to explain a few ‘rules of yoga etiquette’
At Yoga in Cheshire we are proud of our friendly & welcoming classes. These are in both Warrington and Cuddington, but regardless of where you practice you will find many of the same rules apply. These ensure that every one enjoys their yoga practice, stays safe and enjoys the time they spend in their yoga class.
- Firstly arrive in plenty of time to quietly find your place, lay down your mat & make yourself comfortable. Obviously there are times when we are delayed by traffic or family life but generally try to arrive 5-10minutes before the scheduled class time so that you can sign the register, turn off your phone & find any props you may need for the class. Personally as a teacher I understand if traffic issues or similar happens to make you slightly late you probably need your yoga more, however be aware that different teachers have different opinions on this & some studios lock the doors once the class starts!. If you are late please arrive at class & quietly find your place without disturbing the rest of the class.
- Turn off your phone! Again we all have times when we may need to keep the phone on silent (being on call or ill children at home!) but generally phones should be switched off or you can almost guarantee a phone will start vibrating against the hard floor during mediation!
- Mat manners! Do not walk on another persons mat! We lie face down on mats & prefer not to have feet, especially those wearing outdoor shoes on our mat. Our yoga mat can feel like an almost sacred space & hence please show respect to other students by walking around or stepping over mats.
- Personal hygiene matters. Yoga class can mean you’re practicing near other people so body odour or smelly feet are not acceptable. Fresh sweat doesn’t smell so please ensure even if you arrive straight from work that you’ve applied deodorant and/or had a wash. Good personal hygiene & cleanliness shows respect to our own body & self & is essential when in an environment when breathing deeply near other people is encouraged!!
- If you feel pain stop, stretching muscles is good but stretching ligaments or tendons around joints is not. Generally back or knee pain is a warning to stop what you are doing and maybe ask the teacher for modifications or alternatives.
- Do not disturb other peoples practice. You may have had a stressful day at work or your partner may be behaving like a twit but can you wait until after class to tell your friends about it. Or even better arrive early, vent or chat as needed then allow all the stress from your day to melt away during your practice. Other students may prefer to practice in silence so please allow them their time to do so.
- Obviously silence is not appropriate if you want to ask the teacher a question or you don’t understand an instruction…always ask rather than try to copy someone else. The teacher will be happier to explain, maybe using different terms or by demonstrating to ensure your practice is safe and effective.
- Wear appropriate clothing. Yoga leggings are ‘safest’ when it comes to underwear exposure…reinforced crutches are there for a reason!! Running leggings often have an annoying zipped pocket at the back of the waistband and fashion leggings are often see through when you bend over. Always a good idea to check!! For guys…check your shorts have enough elastic & give to move in plus check they are long enough to ensure you won’t fall out! Loose tops will cover your face not your stomach in downward dog & long necklaces may bang against teeth…. again worth a test in downward dog to ensure your dignity remains intact
- Don’t apply hand or foot cream prior to practice…you may as well wear gloves & socks and practice on a wooden floor as you will slip all over the place.
- It is fine to leave the class to go to the bathroom but please do so quietly & preferably not during breathing practice (pranayama) or relaxation (savasana)
- Listen to your teacher.. You may have an established yoga practice but they will be instructing you in a particular posture for a reason so don’t try to do a more ‘advanced’ version ‘just because you can!’
- That said if you feel the teacher is instructing in an unsafe manner or offering a posture that is not appropriate to you then please listen to your body and don’t feel you have to participate. Quietly hold child posture, balasana, or lie down on your back while you wait for the class to return to postures you feel safe doing.
- Enjoy your practice, it may be a challenge or a more indulgent nurturing practice but they are all useful so try to enjoy them all.
- Take your yoga off your mat, practice mindfulness & breath awareness throughout your day. Yoga is not gymnastics but a lifestyle choice, to help us become more connected to ourselves and to others. Being calm in a crisis or helping a person in need is more yoga than making a beautiful physical shape on your yoga mat. Remember that!