Yoga Etiquette - 6 ways to rock it like a Yogi
Like any social space the yoga room has a vibe, a code, a way of behaving. Based loosely on Yoga Philosophy, international etiquette, and simple good manners, you’ll find this code is the same in every yoga space the world over.
Becoming a yogi is easy. All you have to do is start going to yoga. Unlike New Yorkers who have to wait 18 months before they can don the title, yogis are yogis from the moment they commit to a practice. So if you’re in the room, you’re in the gang. However, just as valuable as any secret handshake, it’s crucial to know the vibe of your tribe.
1. Be calm. Be a little more quiet then you would be, for example, walking into the gym or the coffee shop. Us yogis, we like calm. We like pauses, we like moments of silence. Especially on our mats and especially at the time when people are winding down and preparing for yoga. Small chats and exchanges are great. Smiles and greetings and spontaneous hugs. But keep it short and positive. Put your phone on silent. If you’re not feeling calm, don’t worry, fake it ’til you make it.
2. Be considerate. Allow yourself time to get settled, five to ten minutes early is a good guideline. Where do the shoes go? Usually outside or to one side of the room. Where does stuff go? Same, usually off to one side. Don’t just plonk yourself down; be thoughtful about your placement in the room. If necessary make eye contact with the teacher and look for guidance. Or ask someone, yogis are usually a helpful and friendly bunch.
3. Don’t walk on someone else’s mat. They might have their face on that same place moments later. A yogi’s mat is their island. It’s their refuge, their home. Their sacred space. Don’t even touch it without permission! But if you do, just say sorry or just move on, nobody really minds anyway.
4. Be as ready for class as you would be for a hot date ;-) You are on a date with yourself. Show up for yourself. Showered, clothes fresh. Your nicest stuff. It doesn’t have to be Gucci, it can be your old Super Mario t-shirt; wear what you love.
5. It’s not a competition. Leave your competitive streak and your ego outside the door. You are in competition with nobody, especially yourself. Your practice is not striving for more, your practice is letting go of tension and stress and everything that keeps you stuck. Relax.
6. Be kind. Always. Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. We bring our most vulnerable selves to our yoga mats. All of us. Your compassion begins with compassion for you and it radiates from there. Smile, breathe, wobble, cry, it all belongs and it’s all ok.
One thing yoga philosophy teaches us is that we are not alone. If we allow ourselves to soften and to go with the flow we can trust ourselves to move into patterns of movement, thought and behaviour that are good for us. Good for our bodies, our minds, our personalities and ultimately for our lives.
Surround yourself with people who reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel, energies are contagious. Go forth, immerse yourself in your tribe, yogis, and above all, enjoy the adventure! Namaste.
Ps. Photo is of my yogi rock star son, Thomas, turning 15 years of age today and still melting his mother's heart with that smile :-)