Yoga etiquette, do you practice it?
I must confess: I am not a true yogini. In fact, every time I try the step-by-step exercises, I am very distracted by what I see, hear or even smell, as I try to pose, breathe or meditate.
So I thought that if there was yogatiquette, that I could at the very least succeed at mastering the Kakasana (the crow pose).
Here are nine yoga etiquette guidelines that will enable us to reach the full physical and spiritual benefits of yoga to achieve a relaxed body and mind.
1. Dress in form-fitting comfy cozy wear
The yoga room is the perfect place to wear your soft comfy cozy ensembles. Your outfit should hug your body and allow you to comfortably follow the routine with confidence, without embarrassment and discomfort.
Loose and wispy attire can get caught in your movements and prevent the flow of certain exercises. They can also drop and give others a peek at zones that you thought were out of sight to the rest of the class.
Not sure about what others may see? Test your Sirsana (the pear pose) at home, in front of your mirror. This test also applies to you gentlemen…
2. Arrive with an Ahimsha (respect for life) attitude
Yoga is an activity that seeks harmony within the self, with others and the universe. As you walk through the door of the studio say goodbye to negativity and to your ego.
Be kind to others around you; the staff and the other participants. Respect them and their ideas. Respect the environment and the equipment. Respect yourself and your limits.
Be punctual; arrive several minutes before the official start time so you may transition into yoga mode and be ready to start on time with your body and mind
Sticky situation: You are late.
Solution(s): Wait for the end of the introductory meditation to enter the class. Let the instructor guide you to an available spot or go to the back of the class. There is no need to apologize at every step that you take. Be discreet and fast.
If your lateness exceeds 10 minutes, it may be best not to attend.
3. Be ready, there are two types of fart
It is a fact: as your torso and limbs contort your body may emit flatulence.
You will fart from the back; this one you probably expected. And ladies, some belly contractions may generate some gas that will find its way out through the front to exit as a vaginal fart. Surprised? Accept your body. It is natural, even organic. Stay calm and practice Pranayama (breathing through the nose).
Sticky situation: Frequent farting during class.
Solution(s): Yoga is ideally practiced on an empty stomach. Plan to eat two to three hours before your class or have a light meal an hour before.
4. Silence your techno gadgets
“Beep, beep,” “Ding” and the tonic sound of the Minuet, this symphony of technological devices is quite usual for the majority of you. In the yoga room, these noises are interruptions that are not welcome. Silence all your devices, or leave them in your locker or car.
Sticky situation: “Crystals” are heard. You recognize your phone’s ascending ring tone. You thought you had turned it off.
Solution(s): Take responsibility for your omission. Close it quickly. No need for a lengthy apology. It could happen to anyone. Resume your Bhujangasana (the cobra pose). Breathe.
Distracting sounds could also come from your jewellery. Even if they are melodious to you they could distract your neighbours. Remove all your bracelets, charms and necklaces.
5. Pay attention to your carpet, the traction and perspiration
To avoid bringing impurities into the studio, remove your shoes before entering.
Sticky situation: Your feet stink, especially in winter when you wear your boots.
Solution(s): Before class, cleanse your feet with natural oil cleaning wipes.
Participate barefoot. Without socks, you will have better traction on your carpet. You and the instructor will also have a better view of your feet and their alignments.
Sticky situation: You lose balance during Vrikshasana (the tree pose) and fall.
Solution: Keep calm. If you entered someone else’s space or had a collision, apologize briefly. Re-root yourself. Repeat. Perfection is not a yoga prerequisite.
Place your carpet in the assigned direction as well as spots and respect the space of others. You would not want to put your feet in someone’s face. Make sure that all can participate fully with complete extensions.
Whether you practice hot yoga or not, chances are that you will sweat. Bring a towel. As necessary, wipe yourself and the mini puddles around you. Consider wearing head and wrist sweat bands.
Safety is always first and is everyone’s responsibility. It also includes practicing good hygiene.
If you use a studio provided mat, use your towel to create a hygienic barrier.
6. Minimize odours
You will sweat and you will sniff scents. Your neighbours will too. Exercising in such close proximity, make sure that you factor in your cleansing ritual before attending class.
Avoid wearing strong perfumes. They could be a distraction, cause nausea or an allergic reaction.
Sticky situation: A participant, that you regularly encounter, has terrible body odour.
Solution(s): Be strategic. Position yourself away from him. Place yourself in the middle of others so he may not become your neighbour. Practice Pratyahara; focus on you and not the others. Disregard your senses and the external world. Emphasize your interior self. In an extreme case, talk privately to your instructor, after class.
7. Wipe and store the common equipment
If you use studio items, wipe them clean and place them in their appropriate spaces.
8. Do not leave before Shavasana (the corpse pose)
This final pose, is the climax of the class; you completely let go and enjoy the multiple benefits and general well-being of your workout. Leaving just before or during this finale will disturb the entire class and may irritate many other participants.
Sticky situation: You must leave the course early.
Solution (s): Inform your instructor before class. Leave quietly before the closing pose and meditation.
9. Reciprocate the Namaste (an Indian subcontinent greeting with palms pressed upwards in front of the body)
When your yogi ends the session he will bless you with a namaste “I bow to the divine in you.” Return the blessing. It is just good karma.
This traditional greeting is a gentle reminder of our unity with all and everything. Together with our sights, smells and sounds, we are one.