Yoga is a way of life for many people, to others it is a once a week activity, for the masses though, yoga is something totally new and unknown. Even though yoga studios can be found on nearly every corner in many North American cities, it is still a world unfamiliar to many. It can be quite intimidating for a person new to yoga to enter a studio for the first time, especially when everyone there seems to feel right at home. Every studio has it’s own way of doing things, such as; providing mats or not, what to do with dirty mats, offering of tea or other refreshments, lockers or storage systems for your stuff etc. but there are many things that are consistent with almost anywhere that offers yoga classes and being armed with information about those things can get you one step ahead of the game of yoga etiquette.
1) Take off your shoes. Upon entering the studio you will see that there is an area for entry, and the area beyond that is almost always shoe-free. Most studios will have cubby holes or lockers to keep your shoes and coat. Bring your socks into class with you as you may wish to put them on for savasana. OR you can always come to a yoga retreat at Anamaya and you can go shoe-less the entire week!
2) Turn your cell phone off! Or better yet, don’t even bring it to class at all. A ringing phone will earn you the spot of most irritating person in class very quickly. Please be respectful of your teacher and your fellow students by keeping your phone out of class. Oh, and if you HAVE to have your phone for emergencies, keep it that way… do NOT be tempted to text message in between or during poses, ESPECIALLY savasana. Not only does this defeat the purpose of practicing yoga but it is very annoying for your instructor!
3) Be on time. Most instructors or studios will have a late arrival policy, follow it. The general rule is that if you arrive late (10-15 minutes is acceptable), come in quietly and join in. Do not announce loudly how sorry you are that you’re late because Starbucks got your coffee wrong and had to make you another triple shot caramel latte.
4) Be quiet. Unless you are taking part in a high energy hip-hop yoga class, laughter yoga or some other rowdy type of yoga, please keep your mouth shut. I am totally guilty of laughing in class, whispering about fake-made-up names for every pose and groaning when we have to do yet another down-dog, but in this case, do what I say and not what I do.
5) Come to classes that suit your level. If you are an advanced student and the only class that fits your schedule is a beginners class, work at a beginner level. The teacher will generally offer a couple of options for different positions, work with the more difficult one, but don’t go ahead and bust out all of your advanced moves. This is confusing and potentially intimidating to the beginners in the class.
6) Don’t leave early. If you MUST leave early, always inform your teacher before class and always take a savasana before you go.
There are many other guidelines that will allow you to participate in classes as a respected member of yoga society, but these are the main things. Just using your common sense will get you a long way, and if you don’t know something, ASK!