yin yoga teacher training intensiveBy Faye Martins

The central focus of yoga is to accept the world as it is during the present moment. Yet, modern society tends to bring along with it some situations and behaviors that aren’t that easy to accept. Students need to unplug from their electronic devices and be respectful of the rights of others for the duration of class time. Etiquette and courtesy are not relics of the past.

Sooner or later, a sticky or awkward situation will occur during your yoga class, whether you’re the one teaching it or you’re a participant. Some students sometimes make noises including audible sighs and groans as they relax during poses. This can disturb or even annoy other students, who find the noises intrusive of their own practice. Cell phones can create all sorts of noises from text massages, Email, phone calls, Facebook updates and much more. Hence, the reason why signs are on studio doors that remind our students to shut the mobile off and respect the rights of others.

New students often want to keep their shoes or socks on when they arrive, worrying that their bare feet will lose traction during flowing vinyasa sequences. If you are teaching the class, you can explain to these students that it’s more hygienic to practice barefoot, or stress that they distribute their balance most effectively when they are barefoot. Yoga socks may grip as well as bare feet, but regular socks are a safety hazard and the only shoes that work with yogic movement are wrestling shoes.

Most yoga classes start with a centering, warm ups and Sun Salutations, which warm the body, and prepare students for more strenuous poses later in the class. Students who arrive late will miss these poses, as well as cause a disruption as they try to find a space for their mat in an already yoga school. Many studios will not allow students to arrive after a class starts for this reason. Additionally, a new student who arrives late may be pregnant, have high blood pressure or a pre-existing spinal injury. With the current climate of liability law, a last minute student who enters your class without an interview puts his or her health at risk on your watch.

When it comes to taking bathroom breaks, teachers are divided. Some argue that students may have medical conditions that require them to leave during class, and that should be expected. Those teachers will usually suggest that students leave during resting poses and rejoin the class during more active poses. Other teachers find the distraction to other students too much of a disruption to their class.

While many students attend class after work, the perfumes and lotions that remain on their skin are often distracting during class. Some students have allergic reactions, headaches, or other sensitivities as a result of strong smells, and the best practice is to just skip the scents on the days when you attend a yoga training session. For the benefit of all, students who do not believe in bathing should not be admitted to a yoga class. Once in a blue moon, a person smells like they haven’t taken a bath in weeks. The studio manger should stop them at the door. This is one more reason why late arrivals should never be allowed to enter a yoga session.

As class is winding down, many students are tempted to just skip Shavasana (Corpse Pose) and leave early, but doing so robs students of the culmination of the relaxation that they’re worked on for the past hour or so. Additionally, the disturbance of moving and making a sound robs all students of their precious moments of relaxation.

Most etiquette issues are the same common sense guidelines that apply to other aspects of life. While we all have different ideas of what qualifies as ethical behavior, mutual respect, courtesy, and common sense; when each student makes a concerted effort, this will go a long way toward making a positive experience for the benefit of the entire group.

© Copyright 2010 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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