Lately I've been asking myself, "Is it me or is it getting noisier in here?" But all jesting aside, I have noticed a trend towards more noise of many varieties in yoga classes lately. Sometimes it's the loud slapping of a mat against the floor, especially apparent when a participant is late. Or maybe it's the chatter before class that on occasion seems to escalate into a dim roar. Although I highly encourage community and freedom of expression in classes, I also want to remind you that this is a sacred space, and for some participants, their only quiet sanctuary in a very noisy world. So to help us all come back to the relative quietude, here's some friendly suggestions.
1) Pre-Class Chatter. I love that you all want to communicate with each other. So plan an outing after class! Some of you have done this and find it to be really fun! And please try to keep pre-class chatter not only soft, but pertinent to the practice. Politics of any kind is banned! Try to use the time before class to do some prep work for your practice such as warming up, practicing some clarifying breathing (Nadhi shodana perhaps?) and calm down from your day. You will get much more out of your practice. And if you must communicate vociferously with someone, perhaps go in the hallway as to not disturb others.
2) Coughing, Sneezing and Other Bodily Functions. While we can't always control a cough or sneeze (or other bodily functions) do your best to handle them appropriately. There will of course be an increase in sneezing etc. as the winter rolls in, so practice safe sneezing and for Pete’s sake cover your mouth!(an elbow is best for this). And there really is no need to say "bless you" to someone everytime they sneeze or cough. They are already blessed, divine beings! If you think you may still be contagious, please don’t share…...stay home and heal. We will send you blessings from class for a speedy recovery.
3) Verbal Utterances. While I encourage you all to really FEEL the shifts and awarenesses in your body as you practice, it's not always desirable for you to share your feelings verbally with the class. Yawning is a sign you are not breathing properly, or you need some sleep. Not so significant in and of itself, but when we are in the middle of a thought provoking practice a yawn can come across as rude and inappropriate. Please be aware of how your yawns, moans, groans, comments etc. are being received by the rest of the class and your instructor. Although Yoga is a journey within, we are still practicing as a community...please be mindful of respecting the peacefulness of others in that community.
4) Questions. I love, love, love questions! I think it shows a real desire to learn and I’m always excited to see if there is a way I can help you understand the practice better. But like everything else there is a time and a place for questions. The very best time is during a private yoga lesson. That gives you the opportunity to have one on one time with your instructor and cover every single thing you may want to. If that’s not an option, then try to remember your question for when the class is finished, or perhaps ask it before the class starts. As most of you know there is a flow to the class that is an important building block for the energy flow, physical awareness, and mental clarity. It’s best to not interrupt that flow if possible.
So here’s the thing. We all want to get the most out of our practice. I want you to get the most out of your practice. So practice with gusto, but remember to check in now and again with the principles of the Yamas and Niyamas (codes for living soulfully and ethically with others as well as ourselves.) Peace and Namaste.