By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
If you are a student, who is planning on attending a local Yoga class, please read on. If you are a Yoga teacher, without safety guidelines for students or firm policies in place, please feel free to use any ideas below for creating the best possible class experience.
Etiquette can make the difference between an enjoyable Yoga class and one that you cannot wait to leave. Encouraging, and practicing, good student etiquette helps everyone have a great experience. Below are constructive tips for Yoga class participation.
Avoid cluttering the space. In some spacious rooms, it is fine to bring a backpack, while leaving your shoes, eyeglasses, and an extra sweater beside the mat during practice. In most classes, however, this inconveniences everyone and crowds those who wish to practice. It also creates an awkward shuffle when the mat is pulled up to the wall for poses. Try not to bring too many items to class, and leave extras outside the studio space. Most Yoga schools, or classes, have a waiting room, sitting room, coat room, or locker room; and it is best to leave excess clothing behind whenever possible.
Do not be late to Yoga class or leave early. Class needs to start on time for the benefit of the entire group. Many people begin to practice Yoga, in order to reduce stress in their lives. Some look forward to the full savasana period at the conclusion. This resting pose is just as important as more active poses, and it changes the feel of the experience, if students get up and leave during this period.
Make room for everyone. Do not leave others without space to lay down their mats by leaving large gaps between mats. Share props if the class is full. Do your best with only one block instead of two, if necessary. Try to be aware of how full the class is, and do not force the instructor to police the room, re-directing mat usage.
Do not bring in food or chew gum. It is distracting and against most Yoga studio policies. Plain water is usually fine, but ask to be sure. Do not wear strong perfume or smoke directly before class. A sponge bath before Yoga training is also a wise precaution.
If you borrow a mat, clean it when you are finished with class. Many studios provide wipes or spray for this purpose. Try to return mats and props to the position in which you found them, such as rolled neatly or stacked.
It is fine to be practicing a modified posture (asana) if you discussed this with your instructor before the class. In most schools, modifications are perfectly acceptable. However, some instructors have different policies in regard to modifications. Therefore, it is wise to arrive early before class and let the instructor know, quietly, before class, if there are any medical conditions that he or she should be aware of – there may be poses or pranayama techniques that are not recommended for you.
Please shut off your cell phone or leave it in your car. Your classmates really want some down time away from technology, and there is no need to be plugged in to an electronic device while practicing Yoga.
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