I'm new to yoga and always kind of worried to break some unspoken rules at the studio and during class. What do I need to know in terms of yoga etiquette? Charles U.
Hey there, brother! This is a really awesome question, because although there aren’t truly any strict “laws” or “rules” to attending class at a yoga studio, there are certainly courtesy standards that all yogis appreciate. Here are just a few that I thought of:
1. Turn Off Your Cell Phone
One of the best things about having a yoga practice is is exercising the idea of detachment, and I love to think of this in terms of disengaging from the social world. So often are we on our iPhones or iPads or laptops or whatever, typing away and exploring the social world that has so easily inched its way into reality. The simple action of turning off the one thing that connects us to that alternative universe is terrifying for some people, but it can in fact be a beautiful thing. Allow yourself 90 minutes or so to be completely technology free. Chances are it’ll help you settle in on your mat a bit calmer, and I promise teachers won’t miss the terribly distracting yet quite occasional telephone ring coming from your bag in the back of the room.
2. Be Clean
Okay, you may be able to hold a handstand for several minutes, and your heels might touch the floor in down dog, but no, you are not a superhuman, and yes, you do have body odor. There’s always that one (at least one) yogi in class that just stinks-plain and simple. And quite honestly, you can try to manifest all the positive thoughts and feelings imaginable, but nothing will make the awful smell of sweat any better. Put on some deodorant, take a shower, whatever you need to do. Just make sure you take a whiff of those pits before stepping out the door!
3. Don’t Be Late
Sure, things happen. The babysitter is a few minutes behind, you missed the bus, the dog takes a little too long to go to the bathroom. Sooner or later, everybody gets put in a situation where they have to decide to arrive 15 minutes late to a class, or skip it and go to a later one. But many times, when you’re in such a situation, you forget how distracting it may be, for the teacher and the students alike, to stroll into class a bit too late. Even if you’re a few minutes behind the clock, be sure to be as quiet as you can while unrolling your mat and settling in. Different studios have different policies on arriving late to class, so make sure you check with yours to see what’s okay.
4. Tell The Instructor About Your Injuries
This one is mainly for the sake of the teacher, but if you have an injury that you don’t necessarily know how to handle in your yoga practice, please notify your teacher! He or she is there to help and assist you in your practice, and there’s no way of knowing if you have a concussion or are recovering from a knee injury just by looking at you. You’ll be doing yourself and your teacher a huge favor by keeping them informed! There are few things more frightening than learning your student just had hip surgery after class is over (trust me, it’s happened to me). Adequate disclosure equals no more harm!
5. Be Nice
Yes, it’s that simple. All people, whether they go to class to get bendy or to meditate, deserve common decency at the one place it should certainly be expected. There’s no room for competition or unpleasant attitudes in any studio. Take your time in your class to take some deep breaths and just be- no competition, no stress, no harm. And while you take that time to smile warmly at a stranger, also remember to be kind to yourself. Listen to your body, your heart, and your soul, and don’t push yourself past any limits that don’t need to be exceeded. Wherever you are is exactly where you need to be, and that’s okay.