No-no’s for newbies – a guide to yoga etiquette

There are just certain things you don’t do like texting during a job interview, using the toilet at an open house, eating someone else’s food from the office fridge and wearing shoes in yoga.

At Cultivate Calm, we love introducing yoga to beginners. But just like life, yoga has its own etiquette. We want you to be as relaxed and comfortable in class without making a yoga faux pas. If you do make a mistake, it’s no big deal, yogis are a pretty relaxed bunch.

1. Take your shoes off. If your feet stink, give them a wash or wipe them down.

Why? Yoga is a barefoot activity. Having your feet directly contact the floor (rather than through shoes), is very grounding and helps to strengthen the feet and legs.

2. Leave your belongings in the change room, only take your water or towel with you. Definitely don’t bring your shoes with you.

Why? It’s a space thing, there won’t be enough room for everyone to bring their bags in. Also, having your phone by your side in class is a bad idea as it will only distract you.

3. Turn your phone off and make sure you don’t have an alarm that’s going to go off in class.

Why? Phones ringing are super distracting. Usually when a phone rings, it doesn’t just ring once, there’s usually the voicemail, a few texts and follow up calls. Not many people are brave enough to get up during class and switch their phone off but I do encourage you to do it otherwise it’ll ruin your practice. Also, alarms will go off even if the phone is on silent or in flight mode. Check you haven’t scheduled an alarm for your afternoon nap.

4. Don’t stand on anyone’s mat.

Why? Your mat is your personal space, try not to invade anyone else’s.

5. Make room for the person next to you, you only need your mat space, not 5 square meters.

Why? Not everyone can make it to class 15 minutes early to reserve their spot. Take only what you need so that there’s enough for everyone. This is one of the virtues of yoga – Aprigraha – non-attachment to material things.

6. Respect that other people are there to relax before class so keep the volume down on any conversations.

Why? For some people, their yoga class is the only time they get to relax in their busy day. Sure, have a chat to the person next to you but just be mindful of others in the room wanting some quiet.

7. Don’t come to yoga if you’re sick, especially if it’s contagious. The best cure for illness is rest, not yoga.

Why? No one wants your cold or flu. If you’re not sure if you’re well enough to return, make sure you can be upside down in Down Dog without your nose running like a tap, also make sure you can lie on your back without coughing up a storm.

8. If you’re late, try to sneak in quietly rather than making a big fuss

Why? You know how hard it is to focus in a yoga class, people arriving late is a real distraction for everyone (including the teacher). Everyone can sense your rushing energy. Even if you tip toe, the stairs and floor creak so everyone will hear you. Make sure the phone is off and quickly settle onto your mat. If you’re going to be more than 5 minutes late, consider skipping the class and going to one when you’re not in such a rush.

9. Wear deodorant but avoid perfume and aftershave

Why? Yoga can get sweaty and no one wants to inhale your body odour. Also, don’t try to hide your odour with perfume/aftershave, once you start sweating it will create an even more pungent scent.

10. Say Namaste at the end of the class (pronounced NA-MAH-STAY)

Why? Think of it as an acknowledgement or way of giving thanks to the class, your fellow students and the teacher. It is a sign of mutual respect, honouring that we come from the same source.

Image credit: mymasalatimes

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One Comment

  1. Melissa October 15, 2015 at 4:05 am - Reply

    Kylie, what a wonderful explanation for those new to yoga or those unsure of the yoga etiquette.

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