Before Starting Yoga, Know the Rules of Studio Etiquette

So you’ve decided to enroll in a yoga class. Great!  You’ve made an important first step in joining a practice that can improve your body, your mind and your spirit.  Attending a yoga class is a great way to get rid of the stress, relax your mind and meet new people who share your enthusiasm for the activity.

But beginning students such as yourself must take that eagerness to begin and take it down a notch while you prepare yourself for the class experience.  Most yoga classes have established a rhythm and pattern, as well as a set of rules, designed to let the participants get the most out of the experience.  Before your begin your first yoga class, take a few moments to read some of these suggestions designed to help you enjoy your yoga experience from the first class into the future.

First, refrain from eating for at least two hours before your class.  Eating before attending a yoga class can results in discomfort, cramps, nauseous feeling, even vomiting when performing the bends, twists and inverted poses that are commonly associated with yoga.  Also, the energy your body needs to help digest food is energy that could be used to perform yoga.

Try to get to your class no less than 10 minutes before it is scheduled to begin so you can get settled in and find a suitable spot.  Getting to class late and trying to play catch-up can make it hard to calm down and settle in to the rhythm of the class.  By getting to the class well before it beings, you can take the time to warm up with some light stretching, meet a few of your other classmates or simply relax and get into a peaceful state of mind.

On the other side of the coin, don't leave the class early.  Unless it’s an emergency, remain in the class until it is finished to avoid disturbing others.

Come with a purpose.  Do you want to use yoga to increase your flexibility and ease the strain on your muscles?  Is it to clear your mind and help you to forget the problems at work and at home?  No matter what the reason, keep it in mind as your participate in the yoga class to put you in the right frame of mind to reach your goal.

Leave the cellphones at home.  You may feel that you can’t live without your portable device, be it a Blackberry, iPhone or even a pager.  But a phone can be a distraction in many places, especially in a yoga studio where even a "quiet" conversation can be a distraction.  You may think you're keeping your voice down and not disturbing your classmates, but trust us, you're not.  Bottom line: leave the phone off or at home.

On a related note, keep your conversations with other members of the class to a minimum, or better yet, have them it before or after class.  Sure, mastering that new move may be an exciting moment, but other people are trying to master it as well and may have trouble concentrating is you're congratulating yourself loudly or trying to discuss it with the person next to you.

Bring all of the things that you think you’ll need for the class and have them handy – yoga mat, towel, water, etc.  Having someone walking back and forth through the class for water, their towel on the other side of the room is a distraction.  It isn’t fair to not let others reap the benefits they are seeking from yoga by disturbing them.   When the session is over, make sure to gather all of your belongings when you leave.  Another yoga class may need the space after your class is done.

If you have an injury or special physical restrictions, tell you instructor before the class begins.  They can make a note to provide you with alternate exercises or poses that are more suited to your situation and alert you to poses that you should not perform.

While participating in your first yoga class may be exciting, don't overdo it.  Perform only those poses that you can do without putting too much strain on your body.  Your body will tell you what it can and cannot do.  With time, you will be able to go deeper into a pose or move.  But until that time, go slow.

Finally, allow yourself to fully experience the yoga class.  Because of its ability to bring the mind and the body into one, it can be like no other activity in which you have participated.  Open yourself to the possibilities of yoga from the first class and you may be surprised at the transformation ahead.

Check out Kamloops Yoga for more yoga info.

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