Yesterday, I posted this picture on my Facebook page. I have seen it before and I’m sure I’ll see it again. I thought twice about posting it because, well, because it’s incendiary and rather abrupt. Hmmm. Sounds kind of like me, eh? Yeah yeah yeah. Anyway, I did end up posting it and there was a brief discussion that followed and it really got me to thinking about a lot of things that go on in a yoga class as I see it as both a student and a teacher. I started listing a few things in my mind, a code of conduct, if you will, about what should and should not happen in a yoga class. Again, I refer to the Disclaimer page – my views are my own and not necessarily those of anyone else. I’m totally okay with other teachers or students (aren’t we both?) feeling differently. That said, this is my blog and here are a few of the rules as I see them.
- DO NOT LEAVE DURING SAVASANA – see notes. First of all, let me say that the idea of walking out during Savasana makes my brain bleed. It’s just not something I would ever think of doing. I mean, I’d do that just as readily as I would jump up and shout “BOB WILLS IS STILL THE KING” during a funeral or something. It’s just not something to be done! It’s disrespectful, it’s rude, and it totally throws people for a loop. Folks are just starting to get into their space, the teacher is totally trying to set a mood and hold the space, and when someone walks by your head or slams the door, or disturbs the peace, it… well, it disturbs the peace. Most importantly, however, Savasana is the most important part of the practice! It’s when the mind reaps the benefits of the body’s work. It is when the yoga becomes not just something you do, but who you are! Leaving in the middle of it hurts everyone. That said… NOTES: I get it. Sometimes you HAVE to leave. You might have a job to get to, a child who needs picked up, a doctor’s appointment … whatever. I’m not unrealistic – life happens. And honestly, I’d rather have you in class for 90% of it than none of it – your energy matters!! If you have to leave, it is a good idea to tell your teacher before class that you will be leaving. It helps if you know what time you will be leaving because she or he can then let you know when you need to go so you won’t be rushed. And here’s the thing – the teacher will tell you before Savasana because, if you have to leave, please leave before anyone closes their eyes. If you have time for a 3 minute Savasana but not a full 7 minute Savasana, perhaps consider going to the lounge or at least closer to the door for you Savasana so you don’t have to walk over / around others who are trying to bliss out. If you are using studio props, just leave them on the floor. The teacher will gladly pick them up for you after class. Please leave silently. Hold the door until it is fully closed so that it doesn’t bang upon your exit. Please keep your phone silent until you’ve reached the parking lot. Please respect what is still going on. Again, I know life happens and I’d rather students be there for part of it rather than none of it, but it is possible to leave nicely. I have a student who, because of her job, has left nearly every single class for the last 18 months early. She has never once disrupted class. She is silent, respectful, and always manages to catch my eye, bow, and mouth “Namaste” to me as she leaves. GOLD STANDARD right there. To that end ….
- BEGIN AND END ON TIME. I have been guilty of this. OH yes, I have been guilty. Sometimes the energy is just too, too good to wrap up. Sometimes a discussion gets started and time slips by. Sometimes … well, sometimes doesn’t matter. Going over is just as rude and disrespectful (to the students and to the teacher who is teaching next) as leaving before the finale. There have been times when I could tell that I was going to go over. When I have been aware of it heading that direction, I have sometimes said, “It looks like we are running a little long. If you need to be out of here by our stated ending time, I will alert you to that 10 minutes prior. If you can stay, please stay.” It goes a long way to easing that cramped, rushed feeling. Still, though, it ain’t cool, man. To all of my students, let this be my public apology: I am sorry I have taken advantage of your time. I am sorry I wasn’t respectful of your schedule and your lives away from the mat. I will make every effort to not let that happen again. Thank you for staying with me thus far. (For the record, I made a vow Sunday night to end on time. Yesterday, both my classes ended within 90 seconds of stated time. BOOM!)
- NO SHOES ON THE STUDIO FLOOR, PLEASE. Again, I have been guilty of this. And I do know that, on occasion, a studio might be used for something other than yoga and it’s possible that those instances might require footwear. If you are coming to take a yoga class, however, know that taking your shoes off before you walk on the floor is about more than not tracking dirt in. We take our shoes off to be closer to the earth. We take our shoes off as a symbol of all coming from the same place. We take our shoes off as a sign of humbleness and simplicity. And, not as symbolic but equally important, many people sit in meditation before practice. Clomping across the floor sends freaky vibrations.
- IT IS OKAY TO GO TO THE BATHROOM. Yoga is about self love and self-care. This isn’t first grade. You don’t have to ask permission to get up, to get a drink of water, to go to the bathroom. Please be comfortable. Please don’t do the pee-pee dance during Utkatasana. Please get a drink of water. Please get up to get a tissue. Please – it’s your studio, too. Just try to not knock someone in Natarajasana over as you pass by.
- BRING WATER. Okay, again, there are some classes in which you wouldn’t bring water (this is unimaginable to me as leaving in Savasana, but whatever.) Water is so vital! Yoga detoxes you. It releases pent up junk locked in organs and cells and joints and tissues. It needs to be flushed out or else you just reabsorb all the goo! If you are taking a class in which you’re likely to get sweaty (Ashtanga, Ashtanga – Vinyasa, Power, Acro, and for Elvis’s sake, Bikram, etc.) you will be dehydrating as you go. This is NO GOOD! Please please please bring water. Sip it often (except in Bikram, but as I’ve said before, I just don’t get that dude.) Drink it up, please! And not only while you’re in class. Drink it all day! You’re going to need to replenish and rehydrate. Believe me, you might not notice right away, but it will catch up to you. The last thing you want is to be feeling great and going out about town 3 hours after class and then fall to your knees because you didn’t drink you water. Drink it up!
- BE GENTLE with yourselves, with your teacher, with others. Everyone has an “off” day now and then. Don’t get stymied by it. Remember, we’re all just walking each other home. We’re all going to trip now and then. Be kind. Be loving. Be gracious. Be generous. Be gentle. And most of all …