Policies. Etiquette. Good karmic behavior. For yoga teachers and studio owners, this subject can leave us a little squirmy in our leggings. Call them ‘rules’ and our knees just might give out entirely, leaving us crawling toward the nearest Restorative yoga class.
But, alas, to create a blissful, welcoming environment for all, we gotta have some standards. And yogis need to follow ‘em.
Good Yogic Etiquette
Rules or loving reminders—whatever you choose to call them—enforcing them is no picnic in Pigeon Pose. I once had a job as Membership Director at a prestigious downtown city club that required enforcing ‘House Rules.’
Etiquette? Good karmic behavior? Bah! These were rules. And each day enforcing them left me chasing two-hour yoga therapy classes to get my heartrate back to normal before returning for more layin’ down the law.
But this being yoga, and you being good, loving yogis, I have no doubt my heart will avoid doing double-time by the end of this article.
For the benefit of all, however, and the understanding that many think they’ve got the good etiquette guide down pat, I’ve added a few more suggestions not likely found on your studio’s FAQ sheet that will lead us all toward sweet Savasana.
Beyond The FAQs
Aside from the obvious, like not hurling your mat like it were a spare tire on the hardwood floor during opening ohms, refraining from intoxicating the room with half a bottle of Chanel No. 5, or phoning in a post-class pizza during a Child’s Pose break, here are 5 essential yoga DON'Ts every yogi should consider.
1. Snub the Sub
Alright, we get it. You’ve rearranged your entire schedule to get to your favorite rock star teacher’s 6 P.M. flow when, horror of all horrors, you arrive to find she’s AWOL. The karma yogi checking people in rattles off something about her getting the stomach flu, leaving YOU stuck with someone else.
But before reversing your Warrior right on out the door, consider the following:
- You’re HERE. Heading out THERE after all the effort to get HERE is not going to help. Where are ya gonna go? Back home to phone in a pizza?
- You never know. That dreaded sub might just teach the best class you’ve ever taken.
- The sub might also suck, but really now, isn’t an hour or 75 minutes of mediocre flow better than blowing off a yoga class? And better than killing any chance for the sub to gain valuable experience and blossom into a rock star? Trust me, the patient, loving yogis and yoginis who stick with us during our first few abysmal classes have serious good karma coming their way!
2. Down Dog and Dash at Donation-Based Studios
This is just bad form. If you honestly can’t pay your share, say so. Many studio owners would love to support your practice by working out a service-for-classes trade. But stiffing the studio and keeping your instructor from making a living wage is spreading icky karma that will surely circle its way back to you.
3. Give Superstar Sally the Stink Eye
Superstar Sally’s flying high in Handstand and your training wheels aren’t ready to come off. They will soon enough! And if you still can’t smile and admire her practice, whip out Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and read up on the Yamas—ethical restraints to help keep your happy on—including your happiness for her.
4. Assume When We Adjust You, It’s Because You’re Doing the Pose Wrong
Nope! Many times, we’re simply guiding you into a deeper expression of the pose, allowing you to explore new sensations and educate you on proper alignment and technique. Teachers skilled at giving safe adjustments can do wonders for your practice. Seek them out!
5. Arrive Armed with Latitude and Longitude Coordinates of Where to Stake Your Mat
Ditch the compass and move around. You’ll gain a new perspective from a different place in the room, and allow your fellow yogis an opportunity practice someplace new—that place where you normally do. Why not move out of your comfort zone? It’s boring in there.
If we all follow these simple loving guidelines, we’ll never have to call them rules again. And I’ll never have to lay down any law—just my blissed-out spine onto the mat and into sweet Savasana. Namaste, and see you in class!