Yoga Etiquette

As teachers, we try to set a particular atmosphere for classes … specific music, lighting, props, whatever we can utilize to help students move deeper into their practice.  At Bindu we’ve spent a lot of time creating a loving and nourishing ambiance, and as teachers we work hard to not only maintain the studio, but to bring that ambiance into the classroom and maintain throughout classes.

Most yoga students tend to be incredibly respectful of each other as well as the teacher and the studio.  But there are a few guidelines that should always be followed, no matter what studio you attend.  Most of them are common sense or simple courtesy:

  • Never, ever wear your shoes into the classroom.
  • Do not eat for at least two hours before you practice.  Doesn’t matter if its a gentle class or active class – many poses (asanas) work your innards as well as your soft tissues, and you really don’t want a full breakfast in your digestive tract as you twist.
  • Arrive at least 10 minutes prior to class starting.  The teacher and students expect to start on time, and you will need time to sign in, put your belongings away, set up your mat, gather any props and especially, begin to center yourself in the classroom.  Sure, everyone has a day where we run late or decide to attend class at the last minute.  In those instances, please be quiet and thoughtful – avoid clunking shoes, jangling keys, slamming doors and being noisy in the classroom.  But try your best to get to class 10-15 minutes before it starts.
  • My personal pet peeve:  Leave your cell phone in your car or make sure you turn it off.  Not vibrate (you can often hear the vibration, especially if the phone is sitting in a wooden cubby) but off.  Few things are more disconcerting to a teacher or student than taking a class through a deep practice, moving into savasana or a guided meditation, then having someone’s cell phone start shrieking “Freebird” or “Baby Got Back”.  And if your phone does go off and you know its yours, please get up and turn it off.   Your teacher and fellow students will greatly appreciate it.
  • Please be honest about your injuries and heath conditions, even if they are controlled by medication.  There are poses that should be avoided for everything from glaucoma to herniated discs, however, there are many, many ways teachers can modify poses for you that safely take into account any health issues you may have.
  • I teach and practice vinyasa yoga, which is a form of yoga that is a marriage of breath and movement.  We breathe deeply, as in most forms of yoga.  Please avoid wearing perfumes and body lotions.   For the most part, I gauge when blankets need to be washed in the studio when they smell of body lotion and perfume.
  • Conversely, please be clean when you take yoga.  ‘Nuf said.
  • If you have something to talk to the teacher about, please do it before or after class, not in the classroom.  Many students come slowly out of savasana and want to savor those last few moments.  If you have a question about a pose while you are in it, please ask, but if you have a question about a class pass or want to discuss the class schedule, the classroom is not the appropriate place or time.

Everything about yoga class is thoughtfully designed to make the experience as enjoyable as possible for the student.  That requires some cooperation from the students as well as the teacher.   Just as a sloppy teacher who starts late, doesn’t end on time or gives poor instruction is going to make your class experience less enjoyable, having just one student who seems to forget that there are other people in the classroom can make teaching and practicing a challenge.

In the end, we all want to practice thoughtfully, mindfully and with patience, care and attention.  Being courteous to one another makes it all so much easier.