So you’ve finally decided to give yoga a try after realizing pretty much everyone else is doing it, too. I mean let’s face it, yoga is no longer the sole domain of the granola eating, Birkenstock wearing set. Gearing up for a yoga class is simple; a good, non-slip yoga mat, some loose comfortable clothes and you’re all set. Heck, you don’t even need shoes since it’s common to practice yoga barefoot. But yoga etiquette is quite different from regular gym etiquette. The following tips will help the most novice yogi fit right in at any yoga studio or class offered at your gym:
Be an early bird: You and your fellow yogis will get more out of a class if you begin the practice with a calm mind and body. Thus arriving in frenzy minutes before the class starts, or worse, after it has begun, is not optimal for you or your classmates. Instead, try to arrive 10 – 15 minutes before a class is scheduled to begin in order to leave yourself time to put your things away, sign in, unroll your mat and settle in. If you do arrive late, slip in as quietly as possible and find a spot that will cause the least disruption.
Leave your shoes at the door: It is common in yoga studios to leave your shoes at the door and enter bare footed. So kick off the work shoes, sneakers, hiking boots or flip-flops and go native, at least with your feet.
The sacred mat: Your yoga mat is your space. Period. During a crowded practice you can at least count on having the entire length and width of your mat at your disposal, even if the next person is so close that you’ll have to raise you arms toward the front rather than the side. What you can’t expect is to be able to take up valuable floor real estate that another yogi might need with your purse, gym bag and coat (that’s why its good to arrive early to have time to put those things away.) It’s also a faux pas to move another person’s mat without asking first. So if you want to do any rearranging to make space for everyone, simply ask.
Silence is golden: Though some classes are more casual, the rule of thumb when entering a yoga class is to remain silent. Many yogis like to take a few moments before a class starts to begin to turn inward, get centered and prepare to focus on the practice. So save the chatting for outside of the class.
Gadgets need not apply: There is simply no place in a yoga practice for cell phones, IPods or electronic exercise bands that may ring, beep, chime or make any other disturbing noise. Either turn them all off, or better yet, leave them in the locker room where you won’t be tempted to plug in while trying to unplug from life’s hectic pace.