Just as in any other group activity whether that be golf – or playing chess, there is an etiquette to yoga that ensures everyone get the most mindfulness out of each practice.
Most yoga teachers will provide “friendly” reminders, but particularly for first timers, it can be helpful to understand this etiquette before your first class.
First and foremost, turn off your mobile phone before you enter the studio and keep it in your purse or yoga bag. Don’t bring any personal belongings other than your mat, towel and water bottle into the studio.
- Simple set-up. Pick one spot in the studio (usually designated by front, middle and back rows.) Quietly, lay down your yoga mat and place your towel on top of the mat. You can either meditate, sit or lay down quietly before the class starts. If you choose to lay down, make sure your head is facing towards the front of the room.
- Practice silence. This means you don’t talk to other students in the studio, nor ask questions of the instructor until after class.
- Practice stillness. This is especially important in between the postures, which allows for a deeper practice for you and your neighbors.
- Stay in the room. If you need to take a break, you can sit down or lay down.
- Minimize water breaks. There is an official water break after the first four warm-up poses. Do not drink water between the posture sets. Should you run out of water, make eye contact with the instructor in between postures and point to your empty water bottle. Most instructors will get you additional water so that you don’t need to leave the room.
- Focus on one point on yourself, such as your trieste (which is the point in the center of your forehead, which yogis refer to as the third eye). This will keep you centered, and avoid your mind wandering to your neighbor.The second half of the Bikram class is a series of floor postures, which necessitates a few etiquette adjustments.
- When lying face down between poses in Shavasana (dead body pose), make sure you look to the right of your towel after the first posture and to the left after the second. Keep your gaze to your towel, which allows for privacy of your neighbor and for your to maintain mindfulness.
- After class, minimize distractions when leaving. Roll of your mat and exit the room silently. (There is nothing worse than the sounds of someone crunching a plastic water bottle!)
- Finally, it sounds so simple, but is often overlooked: thank your yoga teacher when leaving the studio.