It can be just as daunting as it is exciting to start a new activity and yoga is no exception to that. Whether you start to practise in a fancy yoga studio or at a more down to earth community centre, here’s a list of few unwritten rules that most yogis around the word follow. The physical yoga practise is individual yet collectively done and observing common guidelines ensure a pleasant and respectful experience for everybody involved and might also ease any starter nerves there might be. Most of these rules are pretty common sense though so most importantly, remember to enjoy your yoga class!
Arrive on time and stay for the whole class
Punctuality is always appreciated, especially in a space where there is one class after another one. However, even in a more relaxed setting please show your appreciation for the practise and respect for other participants by arriving on time. You can always roll out your mat and lie down to steady your breath and to settle in before the class starts. If you happen to run late for some reason, please enter the class discretely (if it is still possible – some studios can refuse entry if you arrive late.) It is equally appreciated that you stay for the whole class rather than pack your stuff when the relaxation starts. If you for some reason absolutely cannot stay for savasana, please inform the teacher in advance and take your place near the door so you can quietly slip out without disturbing others before the relaxation starts.
Switch your phone off and appreciate the silence
When you arrive to your yoga class, remember to switch off your phones, tablets and anything else that might make a noise during the class. This includes taking off any noisy necklaces or bracelets. And for heaven’s sake, if your phone rings, do not waste any time checking who is calling or even worse, answer it. Just sayin’ as it has happened…
Yoga classes can be great places to meet like-minded people but reserve your chatting to the space outside the class as many people like to take the time before (and after) the class to meditate or to enjoy the relaxed feeling. Keeping noise and chatter to the minimum during the class is also a question of safety as people will need to be able to stay focused and concentrate on (and hear!) the instructions given. After all, you want to be respectful of the environment, the teacher and the people around you, as well as preserve the energy of the class.
Be aware of the space you take and of that around you
If there is enough room in the room your yoga class takes place it is common courtesy to stagger your mats so that people behind you can see the teacher. Check also that you are not likely to hit the person on your left and right if spreading your arms to your side. If the class is packed, make room to those joining the class after you by moving your mats closer to each other and be attentive with your asanas. Be also mindful of your steps: do your best to avoid walking on other people’s yoga mats. Finally, we all have good days and bad days. Do not throw your stuff around but equally, offer your quiet smile to those who seem to need it.
Keep it clean!
Yoga is practised barefoot although usually you are welcomed to put warm clothes on during savasana for comfort (and health!) However, please leave your shoes outside the yoga space and remove your socks. Trust me, nobody cares about your feet as long as they are clean, just like the rest of you. If you are borrowing a mat please clean it if there is a product offered for that and take it (together with other props) to where they belong after the class is over. Also go easy on perfume, scented body lotions, make up etc. Sensitivity or even allergic reactions to strong scents are a real thing.
Listen (to your body), try modifications and focus on yourself
Whilst yoga can be massively helpful for one’s physical and mental health, it is not a miracle cure for anything and it is entirely possible to hurt oneself if not practising with care. Make sure you inform your teacher with any injuries you might have so s/he can offer suitable modifications. Also feel free to take a break during the practise (by staying on your mat) if anything gets too much. Your teacher can guide you but nobody can be inside your head so learn to listen what your body tells. If unsure about your health and yoga, please speak to your medical practitioner before starting.
Even without any injuries, let go of any expectations of what you think your practise should look like, and never compare yourself to the person next to you or whatever you saw on Instagram the other day. Rather concentrate on the feeling, try out modifications suggested and if your mind starts wondering, do your best to bring your focus back to the practise. These things do not come easy for the majority of us but being aware of them is a good place to start. After all, it is not called yoga PRACTISE for nothing.
Yoga is much more than the physical practise so be interested about how to integrate it to your daily life.
Sure enough not all yoga classes include any talk about the philosophy per se but all of the points mentioned about yoga etiquette are rooted in its philosphical principles. Curious to learn more? You can start by checking out my posts about Yamas and Niyamas.