The whole time I was thinking, “I should’ve told my friends to join!"
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This blog post was originally published by Gaiam and is shared with their permission.
There’s no doubt: yoga culture can be daunting. Whether you’re new to a yoga studio or you need a refresher on the rules, here are ten general tips and tricks for making your practice a pleasant one for you and your classmates.
Being in a hurry is already a tizzy-inducing situation, but rushing into a yoga class is stressful for both you and your classmates. Scurrying into a class after it’s begun is embarrassing, and it’s distracting for your fellow yogis. Be sure to arrive on time, giving yourself the minutes you need to check in, put away your items, roll out your mat, and gather any props you’ll need for class.
Got a few extra minutes before class begins? Sit quietly and focus on your breath, or do a few gentle stretches to warm up. And please, avoid picking your toes. (I wish I were kidding.)
Yoga is practiced with bare feet, and most yoga studios prefer shoes to be kept in the lobby or in an area close to the studio entrance. While going barefoot is courteous year-round—even during flip-flop weather—it’s especially important during rainy months and snowy seasons, when mud and slush are common. By removing your shoes, you’re not only helping with studio cleanliness, but you’re respecting a space that’s revered and cherished by others.
Looking for a hardcore workout, complete with grunting, straining, and popping veins? Please look elsewhere. The yoga studio is not the space for showing off your superhuman strength or your competitive edge. If anything, you’ll garner a few eye-rolls and alienate those around you. Remember, you’re here for yourself—not anyone else.
Beyond the competition and showing off, mind your mood. Gossip, complaining, and negative attitudes are better suited for the local watering hole or the communal kitchen at work. Be gentle and respectful in your communication. Like the saying says, everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind and respect others.
Many teachers like to give gentle (or sometimes more intense) assists in class, like guiding you deeper into a pose or shifting your position to correct misalignment. If you’re sore, injured or just don’t feel like being touched, tell your teacher before class begins.
This advice swings to both ends of the spectrum. First, please bathe, brush your teeth, wash your hair, and use a clean mat and a clean towel. Second, mind heavy perfumes, oils, and colognes, as strong scents travel easily during class. Regardless of which end of the spectrum you’re on, you’re subjecting those around you to your personal biome. Please make it a tidy and pleasant one.
Want to get the stink-eye from classmates? Just bring your iWhatever to class. Whistles, dings, and blips are incredibly distracting and, frankly, downright rude. For many studios, this behavior borders on unforgivable, and could get your device—or you—kicked out of class.
So just put it on silent, right? Not so fast. For many (if not all), yoga class is a chance to escape the digital addictions and distractions we face in everyday life, offering you a rare chance to be fully present. By bringing your phone to class (even on silent!), you’re distracting yourself and those around you. Expecting an important call or a do-or-die text? Consider skipping class altogether, and returning when you can fully focus.
Yoga classes can get packed; when the last-minute stragglers file in, you’ll often see them scanning the room for a strategic spot to roll out their mat. Be neighborly by making room for them, if it’s available.
In a less-packed class, it’s common courtesy to stagger your mats so that the person behind you has a clear view of the teacher and the mirror. And unless you’re practicing with your bestie or your sweetie, give your neighbor some breathing room.
Lastly, mind your steps: it’s polite to avoid walking on a fellow yogi’s mat.
Many studios are considered a space for reflection, self-study, and focus, and maintaining a quiet atmosphere (if not an altogether silent one) supports this frame of mind. Granted, there are studios that have an air of social happy hour before class begins, and you’ll know this immediately upon walking in. But if the studio is quiet and meditative, keep it that way by refraining from chitchat. It’s not only polite, but it’s beneficial to your own state of mind.
We all get it. Time is short, your schedule is tight, and your day is packed with need-tos and to-dos. But many of your classmates live for savasana, and by packing up and shuffling out during the most meditative and restful stage of the entire class, you’re disrupting everyone else and denying yourself the benefits.
The traditional benefits of savasana claim to restore your nervous system to its default settings and offer your mind a chance to sink into meditation. But above all, it’s a rare chance for you to do nothing for a few minutes. Close your eyes, focus on your breath, and feel the weight of your body against the floor. It’s your own little R&R opportunity. Take it.
Absolutely, positively have to leave class early? Let your teacher know before class, position yourself close to the door, and be sure to leave before savasana begins. When it’s time to leave, pack up and scoot out as quietly as you can.
Bolsters, blankets, blocks, straps—yoga is a prop-happy practice. If you’re borrowing the studio’s props, be sure to return them to their rightful place upon leaving. If you’re borrowing one of the studio’s mats, be sure to hang it up at their mat-cleaning station. Leaving your space as clean as you found it is respectful to the studio and students in later classes.
Since 1992, April has been recognized as Stress Awareness Month. It was established to help shed light on the issues behind stress, teach us how to fight it, and create methods to overcome it. While this initiative has existed just shy of three decades, this year it seems particularly important.
With a year under our belts in pandemic mode—a lot of us had to get creative when it came to keeping our cool. On top of that, everyday stresses didn’t just magically disappear during this time either. Just think about it—have you ever been in a situation that was overwhelming? Maybe you’ve had a looming deadline or a to-do list that seems, well...totally un-doable? If you’ve ever felt you were in over your head, please know you’re not alone—you never are. At one time or another, we’ve all been affected by stress—although each person may manifest it differently. Me? I'm definitely a frequent rider on the "hot mess stress express."
There are many ways to help combat stress—some of us seek out support from friends and family, while others find solace in taking up meditation or unwinding with a relaxing yoga class. Whatever helps you find peace, just keep doing you. But also know we have some resources to help you overcome stress whenever the need arises.
Here are some blog posts that are always available to you when you feel a little stressed out:
When in doubt, breathwork expert and sound healer, Shanila Sattar, always has tips to help ground yourself—especially in times of need. In this blog post, she gives you the recipe for incorporating self-love into your daily routine by encouraging us to ask ourselves these questions: How do we treat ourselves? How do we talk to ourselves? What foods are we putting into our bodies? How are we thinking about our overall well-being when practicing self-love? As we all know, self-love defines and redefines itself for everyone over the years, here are a few foundational tips to think about when easing into your self-love journey.
Yoga Nidra, or “yogic sleep,” is a practice that has been around for thousands of years and it aims to restore the mind, body, and soul through deep, guided meditation. The way it works is like the way a power nap helps one feel refreshed during a particularly exhausting day, except you aren’t technically sleeping. I describe it as a long-form of savasana—anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour. (Real talk: savasana is one of the best parts of practicing yoga, am I right?)
TLDR: I learned that I could conquer stress in a matter of minutes with Yoga Nidra.
Are we safe in saying this last year brought up a ton of emotions the likes of which we did not plan for? The good, the bad, the “unprecedented”—our hearts and minds have been taken on a wild rollercoaster ride, and for many of us, our mental health is suffering. With our minds running in thousands of directions, it’s hard to notice our own needs. Yes, our attention to the goings-on of last year is vital but caring for ourselves is as important as ever. Here are some tips from our favorite yoga instructor, Dani Schenone.
Have you been feeling it? The big emotion floating around the last year is the Big Anxiety. Coupled with the stress of what the COVID-19 pandemic has bought for millions of people, disturbed wellness routines, and worry, we have a recipe to create massive damage to ourselves. Adjusting to the new normal, with social distancing practices in place and adapting to precautions and routines, may be the root of even more anxiousness for many as we’re navigating uncharted territories.
If you've got those familiar feelings of stress and anxiety coursing through your body right now, you're definitely not alone. We get it. Times are uncertain, our mental health is taxed, we're doing what we can to reduce stress and anxiety in general, and relaxation has taken a back seat. It’s no secret that stress is proven to weaken our immunity, so now more than ever, it's important to relax, deal with what's happening, and find the coping mechanisms to help you reclaim your mental health and reduce your involvement in stressed moments. Let's deal with stress and anxiety together and see what we can do to reduce them.
Meditation will change your life if you let it. The pace of our modern life is at least ten times what it was just 10 years ago. Technology improved our lives but also created a more frenetic and stressful pace. If we decided to stop, breathe, and become more mindful, we would reduce stress and experience much more enjoyment in each moment of our everyday lives.
There’s always something to worry about. Whether it’s our career, relationships, dating, or trauma, we go through moments that bombard us with negative thoughts that can make us feel anxious and stressed. Our worries may often define our choices, our view of the world, or ourselves. This doesn’t mean they are faults, flaws, or downfalls—we just need to practice managing them in a healthy way, placing deserved value on self-care. Yoga is only one connection. Check out these seven yoga poses that can help your mind and body when you’re experiencing anxiety, depression, or overall stress.
We’re all guilty of our routines and habits running our lives at one point or another. We’re all guilty of being attached to our schedules and our to-do list. We’re all guilty of running on a loop every now and then. As the energies of 2021 continue to shift, we get to ask ourselves the intentions of why and how we are participating in the places we are participating in, the thoughts we are thinking, the habits we are cultivating, and the communities that we are a part of. This intention and mindfulness process can not only shift our own experiences but of those around us as well.
If you have found meditation to be useful in trying times, right now is an incredible time to also try virtual sound baths to receive the deep sound healing benefits. As many of us are processing a variety of emotions as a collective—stress, worry, fear, anxiety, uncertainty—we can start to cause long-term damage to our bodies, especially to our immune and nervous systems. Giving ourselves self-care in a way that is easy, non-intrusive, and simple, can be the perfect way to help your body restore.
These resources aren’t the only thing we have to help you deal with stress—they’re just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, there are tons of classes available to you on the Mindbody app and through Mindbody Flex to help you reignite your calm whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed. And always remember, at the end of the day, your best is always good enough.