Manners, Setting the Rules and Yoga

Okay...to my chagrin, I feel compelled to write about what should be an instilled practice of life; but, apparently, it is fading. I am talking about basic manners...not thinking it is all about you...and that there are other people who your actions affect. To keep this subject from turning into a book, we'll just focus on basic yoga manners. There aren't a lot of "rules"; but, the few that shouldn't have to be verbally expressed will be broken if not addressed.

 The age bracket of yogis is all over the board and one would assume that only the younger generation is guilty of being "un-yogi" like while on the mat. But, that is not the case. Let me just say this...the group of awesome yogis I have taught for three years (around 30 solid regulars) have not ignited me to write this article. Subbing for other people's classes have. Kind of solidified my belief in like minded unite together.

Anyway, here are some BASICS of good manners while practicing with a group of people.

1. When the teacher starts talking to set the tone for the class...you stop talking. Show respect for the others who came to practice. To keep whispering is rude...to look at the teacher with aggravation when she tries to signal you to be quiet is so high school. If it annoys you to be quiet, skip class.

2. Keeping your cell phone nearby with the audible beep on is so rude. Yoga is an hour of time to work your body and mind. Choosing to keep other options near the mat is counter-productive. Plus, it is especially aggravating to anyone who hears it. Seriously, leave the phone in the car...you can call them back. (You really can live without a cell phone.) If you're expecting an important call, you probably should not have come to class. Do it at home instead.

3. Leaving during Shavasana. Wow. This is the ultimate act of inconsideration to others. Unless, it is an emergency, you can chill out for a few minutes. It is the best part! If you have somewhere you need to be, you leave before the transition to Shavasana takes place...not during. If you're feeling extra considerate, tell the teacher you will have to leave early so she or he can be aware. And, don't drag your departure out...slowly rolling the mat, assessing your items you laid out, etc. Get up and go. There are other people in a zone that get disturbed. Seriously, this is a time to let the body absorb to the molecular level everything you just did. It works.

I have read articles of other teachers bringing up these exact same issues and not knowing what to do. It is simple, but it takes a little courage. Set your foundation of expectations on the front end. When I was less experienced, I tolerated these issues more than I care to remember. However, when my edge of tolerance had been crossed, I nicely announced class etiquette expectations. Things changed instantly.

The few people who had a negative vibe got the message and went elsewhere. Personally, I was glad. The good stayed and grew. What started out as a class of around 12-15 turned out into a class in which people have to be turned away almost every week due to lack of space. I took for granted the unspoken, yet understood, manners of yogis until I recently subbed.

Manners should not fade into the past. Opening the door for another, using your car signal for a turn alert, saying excuse me or thank you or just moving over a bit to make space for another should be a regular practice. You know you appreciate it when it is done for you. Well, karma expects you to keep it going.

If you do not like the teacher or the style of yoga they are teaching, you can leave. But, you can use it as a practice to build tolerance, compassion, or patience for yourself. If not motivated or driven to glean from the experience, then just be considerate of the others that took the time to get on the mat. Make it quick and please make the effort to let the door close quietly. Save the dramatic exit for the theater.

All yoga teachers have different energies and styles and the same goes for the students. Some mix and some don't. And, that's OK. The important thing is to practice kindness and good manners for everyone involved. No student is more important than another...and we're all students...especially the teacher. We are all learning the dynamics of energy, physical and non-physical, together. A group practice can become an intuitive team. No words need to be said. The body feels and the mind knows. We feel each other's energy.
Disrespecting the code of manners disturbs the peace...so to speak.

Lastly, if the three basic yoga etiquette rules seem unreasonable...you're probably better off taking a Zumba class. The loud music and dancing might be what you need at this time. Don't get me wrong, Zumba is great; but, yoga is a conscious practice of infinite levels. You will know when it feels right. To force yourself to do something you're not truly interested in is probably the root of disregarding the rules. Just a guess.

Remember..."when the student is ready, the teacher will come."      Just don't be late:)

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