Yoga Class Etiquette

I remember how intimidated I felt the first time a friend of mine invited me to take a yogayoga mat

class with her. It was all so mysterious to me. I was sure I would look foolish trying to twist myself into a variety of shapes and configurations.

My ego and I imagined all sorts of ridiculous scenarios. Being a rather shy personality type, I was worried I would commit a horrible faux pas and stick out like a sore thumb or offend someone. I had no idea of what to expect, what was expected of me, or what the proper etiquette was for taking a yoga class.

As I look back on all the insecurities I had, it’s a wonder I ever made it through the door to my first class. Thankfully, I did. That was many years and many yoga classes ago. Over time and several different yoga teachers, I truly fell in love with yoga and wanted to share it with everyone I could. I became a certified yoga instructor and opened my own studio, Lights of Yoga, in 2000.

Yoga is a beautiful practice unlike any other form of fitness program I have ever tried. I encourage anyone thinking about including it in their life to find a yoga class ASAP.

First, find a yoga teacher you can connect with. Every teacher has their own style of teaching and, although I believe we learn from all of our teachers, even ones we don’t connect with well, in the beginning it is very important to have a teacher who does not make you feel uncomfortable or embarrassed while you are under their tutelage. Once you have found a teacher to start your yoga journey with, here are a few points to help make transitioning through the first few classes a little less intimidating. We used these guidelines in my yoga studio and handed them out to every new student.

  • Arrive on time or 5-10 minutes before the class starts. This gives you time to get comfortable and become focused. Find a spot and unroll your yoga mat. Sit quietly or lie back and relax. You may want to concentrate on following the inhalations and exhalation of your breath to help you release the cares of the day.
  • Most teachers understand that sometimes being late is unavoidable. If you arrive late please enter the studio as quietly as possible. Unroll your mat before entering the studio and lay it out quietly when you find your spot. Please do not snap your mat open and make a commotion. This is rude and disturbing to those who were on time and are already centering.
  • Remove your shoes as soon as you enter the studio to keep the floor clean. The floor is where you will be spending most of your time.
  • Please be quiet during class instruction. It’s great to share with friends, but it can be distracting to others to have an extended or loud conversation.
  • Remove noisy jewelry like bangles and bells before class starts.
  • Keep questions brief but do ask questions if you have them. Everyone will learn with you!
  • Turn off your cell phones and beepers before entering the studio.
  • Resist watching other students during their practice. First of all it’s rude and it only encourages comparisons. Comparing yourself to others is not what yoga is about. There will always be different levels of physical flexibility and strength when a group assembles for a yoga class. Yoga is about being aware of your own personal flexibility, strength, and focus. You cannot be focusing inwardly when you are focusing outwardly on others.
  • Don’t leave class during, Sivasana, the very important deep relaxation ending of the class. If you must leave during Sivasana, please do so as quietly as possible so classmates are not distracted. If you must leave class prior to Sivasana, remember to take at least 5 minutes of deep relaxation at some point during the same day of your yoga practice. It is imperative to make time for deep relaxation after a yoga practice to integrate the benefits of the breath work, body work and focus.
  • Please do not wear any heavy, chemically produced fragrance oil perfumes or lotions to class. Respect that some students are sensitive to these chemical products, especially when breathing deeply! Natural essential oils and essential oil products help some students relax and may even help in facilitating breath work. This is perfectly fine as long as they are used in a minimal amount, enough for only you to smell. Although essential oils are more subtle than chemically produced fragrance oils, sometimes those around you will still be sensitive to the aroma. Please be considerate of this.

In my next article I will cover creating a comfortable yoga practice. Namasté, nah*mah*STAY, The Divine in me recognizes and honors the Divine in you.

Grace Vitale is the founder of Lights of Yoga, Ltd. and Truly Namasté, a natural ingredient and essential oils based skin care company. She has been a yoga practitioner for over 20 years and has studied and worked with aroma therapeutic essential oils since the mid 1970’s. To see the Truly Namasté line of skin care products go to http://www.trulynamaste.com

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