It’s still January, the season of the yoga rage. New explorers from all walks of life are trying out classes, and trying the dedicated practitioners’ patience. An article out of the UK sites incidences of “yoga rage” are on the rise, as new students arrive unaware of the etiquette of yoga class and turn the sacred space of practice into a practice of distraction.
For those of us who have been practicing for a while, this occurrence is not uncommon during those peak times of the year. Naïve new students bring cell phones into class, walk into the space with soiled shoes, enter late and leave early, and are just generally unaware of their surroundings and their place in it. But what does it say about our practice as students of yoga that we would allow the actions of the others affect our own practice, much less turn to “rage.” Sure the space gets crowded, and we might get a foot or hand in the face, but we’re practicing yoga after all. Patience, compassion, and generosity are what it is all about.
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Many studios post on their websites and at various locations in the studio a kind reminder of the studio policies, but often in the rush to get to class these things get overlooked. So how do we provide support for the newcomers while maintaining respect for our own practice? I.e. how do we avoid the “rage?” Good question. For starters, we can adopt an attitude of understanding. Even if we have practiced for years, we all started somewhere. Our knowledge grew from experience and the support of our peers and teachers. We can also approach a crowded class full of newcomers with the desire to serve. If it is your normal routine to enter class quietly and spend a few moments meditatively moving or sitting, then utilize the power of your intention to cultivate a sense of warmth without saying a word, or step out of the box of your usual practice and be present to welcome and support new students.
Make the choice to cultivate patience and compassion. When the heat is turned up and bodies start to move, find patience for the one whose hand is in your face during Surya Namaskar and whose feet are in your back during seated forward folds. Be compassionate toward the all too familiar lint-picker or clock-watcher. Know in your heart that you teach patience and endurance by example. Allow the joy of your practice to shine through you and onto others. Lastly, know that eventually they will get it, and if not, fairly quickly they will determine that this is not the place for them right now. Your space will become sacred again soon enough, and by working with acceptance and tolerance, you will open into a whole new side of your practice.
For those of us who are the newcomers to yoga, here is a list of general things that will help foster good yoga etiquette.
1. Arrive early.
2. Dress appropriately (or allow for plenty of time to change before class)
3. Take your shoes off and store them in the correct location.
4. Turn your cell phones off (or leave them at home).
5. Avoid powerful odors of any kind (artificial or natural).
6. savasana is required! If you must leave early, position yourself near the door and exit silently.
Know that most studios have their own list of guidelines and considerations. Please check with the teachers or the studio staff if you have any questions.