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Manners, Mindfulness and Muscles
Proper Etiquette at the Yoga Studio and at the Gym

It's probably happened to you at one time or another - some guy is hogging the weight machine you want to use, grunting away, and when he finally finishes he leaves a disgusting pool of sweat all over the seat. Or you're ten minutes into your Yoga class and some girl shows up late, plunks her mat next to yours and manages to hit you not once, but three times while practicing various Warrior poses - then her cell phone starts ringing during the final relaxation. Thoughtless, rude people can ruin a good workout or destroy your serenity, but before you start pointing fingers, look at yourself for a moment. How's your own etiquette? Are you always courteous and considerate when you venture into the gym or Yoga studio? Or - and let's be honest about this - are your manners just a tad lacking? On the next couple of pages you'll find checklists so that you can see exactly where you stand. If you find that your own behavior isn't up to what you expect from others, don't despair. All of us could probably use some improvement. Remember: knowledge is power, and becoming aware of bad manners or discourtesy gives you a wonderful opportunity to change and grow.

(Article continued below.)

Yoga Studio Etiquette:

  • Be on time - in fact, show up early!
    By the time your Yoga class begins, you should be mentally prepared for it. That requires you to arrive a few minutes early so that you can take your shoes off, sign in, lay out your mat and either meditate, sit quietly, or do a few easy stretches. Showing up late is disruptive to the mood of the class, and you don't get the full benefit of the practice either - a rushing, hectic frame of mind is the antithesis of what Yoga is about. If you are unavoidably late, set up as quickly and quietly as possible.
  • Be clean.
    Yoga is practiced barefoot, in comfortable clothes. If someone has dirty, crusty feet, you certainly don't want to walk where they've been stepping, do you? And just because you're dressed casually in a tee shirt or crop top and leggings, that doesn't mean they have to be ready for the laundry hamper. The temperature can get pretty warm in many studios, heightening any body odors that are already present. Make sure that both your clothes, and your body, are odor-free.
  • No perfume, please!
    Speaking of odors... some people are allergic to perfume, and not everyone may like the same scent as you. It's especially unpleasant if you like drenching yourself in fragrance - that can get really stifling in a Yoga studio. The best scent you can have in Yoga class is that plain, freshly-washed smell. Save the perfume for after class.
  • Turn off your cell phones and pagers.
    This should be a no-brainer. Few things are more annoying than ringing or beeping when a class is deep into Shavasana.
  • Be aware of the space around you - avoid bumping into your neighbor.
    With the growing popularity of Yoga, some classes do max out and you find yourselves crammed into some very tight spaces. Still, it's only courtesy to do your best to keep from accidentally hitting the people on either side of you. Be aware of their existence, and if you do happen to collide, adjust your position so it doesn't happen again. Repeatedly bumping into another person is just plain inconsiderate.
  • Silence is golden.
    If you're attending class with a friend or romantic partner, leave the conversation until class is over. Talking or whispering will disturb the class.
  • Take the class that's appropriate for your level of experience.
    If you leap into an advanced class before you're ready, the teacher will have to give you extra attention, thus slowing the class down for everyone else. If you're advanced and, perhaps because of scheduling considerations, you wind up in a beginner's class, don't be a showoff. Yes, you can twist yourself into poses that no one else can touch, but don't make a display of your abilities (and yes, you do know the difference between just doing a pose and subtly making a statement) - leave your ego at the door.
  • If you must leave class early, do it before Shavasana (the final relaxation pose).
    It's just plain rude to get up and walk out when everyone else is relaxing into that special, quiet space.
  • Be neat and considerate.
    If you're using the studio's mat, blankets blocks or straps, make sure you put them away exactly as you found them - or even more neatly than you found them. Clean up any mess you've made, including and especially any sweat. And don't make a commotion when you leave - especially if there are other classes going on at the same time. Being too noisy could also disturb the studio's neighbors - and yes, Yoga studios have received complaints about noisy students. Quiet conversation is usually fine. Shrieking and loud guffaws are not (and frankly, you shouldn't even be in this type of a space after a Yoga class).

Next page >> Gym Etiquette >> Page 1, 2

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