A few things you should or shouldn’t do in a yoga studio..
Be on time
Those first moments on the mat are very important. They sometimes define the rest of your practice and how much you can let go of your day/week and tune into the presence. Being a few minutes late to a class and walking in while everybody’s sitting (or standing) still, disturbs your peace as well as everybody else’s. Even worst is walking in the middle of a chant – my personal favourite. Ommmmm (knock, knock..), Vande (step, step), Gurunam (bang!)… Wait until the chanting is done and than walk in or out. You don’t need to chant if it means nothing to you, but respect the fact that for some people this is important part of the practice.
But, being on time doesn’t only mean not being latte. It also means being too early. 20 minutes is plenty time to sign in, change, roll out your mat and prepare for your class. Arriving 30 min early means you will either disturb the class before and their Shavasana time, or you will disturb the teacher while he/she is changing, lighting candles, incense and generally preparing for the class.
Unless, of course, you came 30 min early because you’d like to help out?
Respect the sacred space
I was at a yoga conference a few weeks ago, just sitting on my mat with my lovely yogini friends, waiting for a class to begin, when I saw a pair of white flip flops walking past stepping on other people’s mats. That is such a big no-no! Firstly, you never walk in into a yoga studio or a shala or any space where people practice yoga with your shoes on. Not even in slippers. Secondly, even if you have removed you shoes at the door as you should, never walk on other people’s mats unless there is no space between them at all. And that is usually not the case. One’s yoga mat is one’s sacred space, not to mention the fact it’s a space where you lie down or put your face down at times.
Also, if you sweat a lot try to do it on your own mat. Dripping around on other people’s mats is.. well, how can I put this mildly.. just not very nice?
Would you like to roll around in other people’s sweat?
Unless, of course, you’re at home with your partner:).
It happened a few times that I had to light an incense in every studio corner and open windows in mid winter to prevent everyone suffocating because of that one student who’s had repairs in his/hers apartment’s water pipes that day (I’m being nice again) and couldn’t shower. Nobody smells nice in a yoga class when all that sweat and toxins are coming out. But, a few easy tricks can help:). And no, they do not include using lots of perfume (another no-no).
So… Shower before the class if you can, use a deodorant before the practice and wear cotton. From my experience, wearing those special technology sports materials that keep you dry while all the sweat stays on the surface, will make you go from fresh smelling yogi to that person that nobody wants to practice next to, in ten minutes tops.
Unless your shower doesn’t work, you’re out of deodorant and that Nike top is the only clean shirt you have. Actually, than just stay home and do your self practice!
Put the mats/props away
When I started practicing you couldn’t buy a yoga mat on every corner and in every studio like these days. Not even in London. So, when I finally found a small shop on Queensway that sold yoga mats and as an extra treat, David Swenson’s ashtanga manual, I was out of my mind with happiness! No more smelly mats for me that haven’t been washed for a while (or ever?!).
So, nowdays, when yoga mats are not such a rear find and are not so expensive considering you will use them for a year at least, getting your own mat just seems like a right thing to do.
However, if you do decide to use the studio’s mat or props (brick, strap, pillow, blankie..), wipe the mat and put everything back the same way you found it. Would you ever borrow a shirt from your friend and give it back unwashed?
Unless, of course, you don’t have a washing machine and he/she is a really, really, reeeeally good friend? Hm.. maybe not even than!
Respect the silence
Yoga studio is not a church, so, you don’t need to be completely silent or whisper. I like to chat and laugh with my students at the desk, and I believe laughter and socialising have great healing powers, just like yoga does:). But, ones you enter the studio you should switch your phone off. If there is a yoga class in session next door, try to be quiet not to disturb their peace. And ones you sit down on your mat, it’s time for silence and inner reflection. Try to just sit and listen to your breath before the class starts. You can chat with your friends in the changing room latter. After Shavasana, try to stay peaceful and quiet. Perhaps you could even take that peaceful feeling home with you, not switch your phone on for an hour or two, smile and hum your favourite mantra on the way home..
Unless, of course, you’re afraid people will think you’re crazy. Which they probably will, but, who cares?:)