National Etiquette Week is May 8 to 12 this year. I teach a quarterly Yoga Basics class and often get questions about etiquette in group yoga classes. Here are some tips based on those conversations.
What to wear. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on fancy yoga clothes. Wear something that is comfortable and that will allow you to move freely. You don’t need to wear form fitting yoga pants if you’re not comfortable in them, but you should wear something that allows the teacher to see the shape of your body in the poses to help with adjustments.
Yoga accessories. Students often ask about buying their own yoga mats and which one they should purchase. Most studios have mats available, so you don’t necessarily have to buy your own. If you do decide to buy your own mat, there are a number of inexpensive options at major retailers and there are also lots of more eco-friendly (and also more expensive) options available. When you’re ready to purchase your own mat, feel free to ask your teacher or other students for recommendations.
When & what to eat before class. The general rule of thumb is to avoid eating at least two hours before class. If you need to eat something due to scheduling conflicts or health issues, eat only something very light that won’t upset your stomach.
Don’t be stinky. It’s impossible not to sweat in most classes, especially hot ones, but it’s best to start out fresh and clean. And lest you think bad body odor is the biggest problem here, you’re wrong. Wearing perfume or other strong scents is the more common offense. Many folks have allergies or are sensitive to strong scents, so it’s best to avoid using perfumes before practicing.
Arrive early. Ten to 15 minutes before class is a reasonable time to arrive before a class. It gives you plenty of time to get your space, your props together, and get settled in. Arriving late is sometimes unavoidable but it is also very distracting — avoid it as much as possible.
Turn off your electronics. You don’t need your phone on your mat. Turn it off. A vibrating phone in a quiet yoga space is as distracting as a full-blast ringtone, so off is better than silenced or on vibrate. If there is a family or work emergency, let your teacher know, set up by the door, and step outside before answering.
Passing gas. Hey, it happens. Feel free to either laugh at yourself or keep moving right along. Everyone has (or will) do it at one time or another.
Don’t skip relaxation. Final relaxation is the most important pose in class. Some days, it’s easier than others to lie quietly, so don’t beat yourself up if you don’t find it easy or don’t really like it. If you absolutely have to leave class early, let your teacher know before class and leave as quietly as possible before final relaxation begins.
Enjoy yourself. Yoga is serious but it should also be enjoyable. Allow yourself the gift of time to do something good for you. Don’t stress about not being able to do everything at first. If a class is challenging, modify poses when necessary and take breaks when you need to. If you feel a class is too gentle, allow yourself to give your body a bit of a break. To paraphrase Paul Grilley, the only incorrect way to do yoga is to feel nothing or to feel pain.
See you on the mat,