Yoga Etiquette: Part Two
Use these additional tools to help find a more pleasurable yoga experience.
Last May I wrote, Yoga Etiquette. I knew at the time I would want to do a part two because there are so many things that we can do to help make a community practice more enjoyable for everyone.
I never want anyone to feel uncomfortable or unwelcome when entering into their yoga practice. These are suggestions towards being a little bit more mindful towards yourself and towards your community, not rules. We can all, students and teachers, help our community to feel more comfortable with each other, to feel more connected. There is enough Dukkha, misery, in the world, let’s not let it seep into our practice, especially when we all are fortunate enough to be together.
I asked my colleagues in the yoga community for some insight. As always they came through for me and gave me some really helpful guidance.
Dippin’ out during Corpse/Savasana:
This one is first for a reason. It’s the one I thought of first. In my article, Yoga 101: Corpse pose, I discuss that savasana is so important for us to master as students. It’s our time for the absorption of the practice. It’s also the release of the practice, don’t cheat yourself or others of this pose. Along with my concerns, instructor Erin Motzenbecker said a big concern was “walking out in the middle of the final relaxation."
If you know that you aren’t going to be able to stay, you could let the instructor know ahead of time. Also, do a combo move and take your own short savasana, then leave early. Roll up your mat and exit the room before the rest of the class begins savasana. It’s one of the hardest postures to settle into after all that breath and movement and the last thing needed during it is the stirring up of that energy with all that movement to leave.
Give the 411 of old and new injuries:
This is a big one with the recent NY Times article concerning yoga causing injuries. “Informing the instructor of injuries, concerns or needed modifications prior to the start of class”, said teacher Abby Hoffmann. I think the student who has practiced more than a few times, should let the instructor know about injuries or any physical limitations prior to class. However, I fully believe that it is the responsibility of the teacher to communicate with students prior to class to help better direct them during class. Teachers really should try to get to class at least 15 minuntes early so that they can meet and greet students, especially new ones. That way the students feel more comfortable and safe with the instructor and their instruction.
Don’t become a yoga M.I.A:
My friend and yoga instructor Karen Kessel pointed out, “that if you are a class regular, let your teacher know if you will be absent, cause we worry.”
I am a teacher and I have students who have come every week for years now and if they go missing from class, I totally agree, we do worry.
Your stuff, outta sight, outta mind!:
Summer Crawford, of Evolation yoga studios, said, “No bags, keys, wallets, shoes, and certainly no cell phones. Even on silent, even if you never touch it, it’s visual clutter that reminds you and everyone else, of obligations and attachments outside the yoga room."
So true. Like myself, Crawford is a mom and understands that one might need to be contacted in case of an emergency. Cover all basis and let your caregiver, your work, whoever that needs you in those cases the number of the studio or gym where you will be at for 60 to 90 minuntes.
A sharing space is a caring space:
One of my first times practicing in a studio environment I arrived to class late. The room was pretty full, but not to capacity. I came in after meditation, as to not disturb, but when I did come in not one person flinched to make room for me. The teacher asked for space to be made, and yet there was this overwhelming struggle for every person in that room to move to make room, to give up space. Eventually, people did, but not without an unwelcoming response first. Let me tell you this, your yoga mat is pretty much all the room you need. So next time someone arrives late, be brave, give them a welcoming smile, stand up and share some space. I promise like that ripple effect, it will spread and people will make room for you making room.
Saying goodbye is such sweet sorrow:
My husband, Eric Wheeler, said it best, “smiling and saying thank you and good bye to your teacher." Here’s the thing most instructors, including myself, have prepared that class just for you. Sometimes hours of preparation if not days, goes into their art. Teachers of yoga need to hear a little gratitude sometimes.
Remember folks, these are not big things, and certainly if you forget, you're not going to be banished from the world of yoga. These are just tools to help us have a more enjoyable journey on the path of yoga.