As someone that is new to yoga, the thought of walking into a class filled with strangers and spending the next 60 minutes together in awkward positions may be enough to make them run and never come back. Knowing the following basic things to do and avoid prior to and during a yoga class may help you be more prepared and at ease when the class finally begins.
1. DO have a shower before coming to class
This is the most basic thing you can do before stepping into the yoga studio. It is also common courtesy especially when sharing a space to practice with so many others around you. In fact, cleanliness is prescribed in one of the eight limbs of yoga in which sauca or purity includes maintaining a clean body as the ‘vehicle’ towards long-term health. Body odour can be distracting and downright unpleasant for those who are within close proximity to you in class. Speaking of body odour…
2. DO use a deodorant (preferably ones free from parabens and other synthetic ingredients)
There are many beneficial bacteria that live on our skin helping to keep the natural ecosystem balanced and healthy. However, when these bacteria mixes with sweat, a natural process of chemical reaction occurs producing the distinct smell of body odour. Many factors contribute towards unpleasant body odours including stress, food intake and hormone levels. The easiest way to manage it is by selecting a deodorant that absorbs your sweat arresting the process of bacteria feasting on it. Many effective natural deodorants that use powder clay and bicarbonate soda as its base are available in the local market today.
3. DO bring a face towel along
Although not a must for slower paced yoga classes (example. Yin Yoga or Restorative Yoga), a face towel can come in handy in more vigorous yoga classes. This especially applies if you are thinking of attending a Bikram Yoga class in which the studio is heated up to 40 C or an Ashtanga class where the intensity of the practice will more often than not make you sweat profusely midway through the class. While it is great to sweat and allow the body to naturally detoxify, having it trickle into your eyes and nose while you are trying to balance on your head is extremely uncomfortable and may actually interfere with your concentration. Additionally, raining beads of sweat onto the person next to you is not polite and let’s face it, can be quite gross if you are on the receiving end.
4. DON’T arrive to class late
Tardiness is a trait that is rarely ever appreciated whether it is in a swanky corporate boardroom or in a yoga studio. Although many studios in Klang Valley do not turn away late-arrivals, I do know of a few who promptly lock the doors to the studio 1-2 minutes prior to starting the class. Late arrivals can be disruptive both for other students and the instructor leading the class. This is especially true if the class is full and other students are required to adjust their mats to make space for the additional student. On days when circumstance caused you be slightly late for class (example: a horrible traffic jam on the way to the studio), slip in quietly and unroll your mat as softly as you can to avoid distracting your other classmates.
5. DON’T eat a big meal at least 2 hours before your class
This is pretty straightforward. Just as you won’t eat a big meal before going swimming or running, you will want to do the same before your yoga class too. I have had students who ate a helping of dosa at the nearby mamak just before their class and had to promptly avoid all inversions because they could feel the food moving up the wrong way through their digestive system (in other words, back up your mouth). Big meals will not only cause great discomfort but could also interfere with the process of digestion especially in twisting and inversion poses. If you are running low on energy level and your next class is less than 2 hours away, snack on some nuts and granola, drink healthy smoothies or freshly pressed juices to steadily and safely bring up your glucose and energy level before class.
6. DON’T leave before the class is over (or at least try to take rest for 1-2 minutes before you do)
Some call it savasana (dead corpse pose), those who practice Ashtanga will know this as sukhasana (easy pose) and those who are just glad they’ve survived the class will call this “yay! It’s over!” pose. Whatever pet names accorded to this pose, it remains one of the most important poses in the entire yoga session as it helps to integrate the benefits of all the other poses performed throughout the class. It also allows your body to rest, bringing down the heart rate to normal before resuming your daily activities. As much as possible, try not to leave the class before you have had your rest. Even if you are pressed for time and are rushing to another appointment, spend at least 1-2 minutes lying flat on your mat before quietly leaving the class before everyone else is done.
What other yoga classes do’s and don’ts do you have in mind? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page!