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Five (etiquette) tips for better yoga

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Ah, a perfect example of yoga class. Students perfectly spaced, no one talking, everyone showered. Photo courtesy of thenationalguard on flickr.

Yoga's a great way to get in shape and zen-up your new year -- as long as you do it right. I don't just mean how you hold Triangle Pose. I mean respecting the unwritten rules of yoga class.

Yoga is far different than any other fitness class. The breathing, the awareness, and the quiet of the room all contribute to the experience for all attendees -- so best not to be the jerk in the room.
Joining me today is guest blogger Noel Rozny. Noel's a fitness freak who's had her share of rude-butts interrupt her "oms." Take it away, Noel, and I'll chime in with my bitchy two cents:

Five Tips for Better Yoga:

  1. Don't throw your mat on the floor, talk, or make excessive noise when you first enter the studio. Those students sitting in Lotus pose or laying on their backs are meditating.  Although the point of meditation is to block out the world around you, that doesn't make your disruptions any less rude.
    EB says: Agreed. And no chatting with your neighbor before the teacher starts. My worst rude-wannabe experience was a newbie who came in late with her newly-purchased, still-in-its-wrapping-mat. She proceeded to remove the stiff plastic, unroll, then throw her mat while we were on our second series of poses. The kicker? She wasn't even dressed for class.
  2. Do make room for others. If you arrive early, you might stake out a nice, large corner in the back of the room all for yourself. But as class fills up, help a girl or guy out and slide over. You don't need five feet on each side of you to have a good practice, I promise.
    EB: Mostly agreed. Once class starts, it's rude to expect those who are already set (who arrived on time!) to move over, just because someone else is late.
  3. Don't guzzle water, fuss with your hair, or leave the room during poses, especially the balancing series. Balancing requires a lot of concentration. Most yogis will focus their gaze on one point, and movement makes it difficult to maintain. If you must fidget, or need to pee, wait until a pose is over before you make that beeline for the exit.
    EB says: A small sip of water between positions is okay. All others: yes, yes, yes. Hey, ponytail girls? Save it for the locker room.
  4. Do be aware of others around you. If you're packed together like sardines, stay centered on your mat as much as possible. There's nothing worse than the yogini who dangles her foot in your face or the one who bumps you in Warrior II. Adjust your pose, and your spacing, to be respectful of those around you.
    EB says: And shower daily, or at least wear deodorant! Just because you're exercising doesn't mean it's okay to stink. We can smell you.
  5. Don't be afraid to take a break. If you're beat, rest in child's pose or downward dog. The best thing about yoga is that it's not a competition, so take care of yourself first.
    EB says: Couldn'ta said it better myself.

Happy Yogaing!

Thanks, Noel! Pleasure to have you here. Noel writes for the Chicago Examiner, where you can read what else she has to say (nicer than I would) about fitness.



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Jessica said:


Great tips! I would add that if you are going into Bikram (hot) yoga, be mindful of what you wear. While you want to dress appropriately, it is hot for everyone and others don't need to see every part of you.

Maya Henderson said:


These are great tips! Tip #3 makes me think Noel does Bikram yoga. Am I right? If you're in a vinyasa class, there really isn't a point when a pose is over, since you're continually flowing from pose to pose. I'd also add to leave your ego at the door. Yoga requires your body to do things you've likely never imagined, so go easy on yourself and others around you.

NoelR said:

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Yes, right on both counts! I do practice Bikram, and you should absolutely check your ego at the door! (And remind yourself that if you're like me and you've been practicing for awhile, that you were once a newbie yourself!)

AmyKaufman said:

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Great tips. The real question is in real life, when would you ever find this many men in a yoga class?

EB said:

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amy -- in the army, or national guard. other than that, seriously, sometimes there are too many men in my yoga class. (energy 'n all that...)

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