Here are some tips for being mannerly on your mat:
On arriving late (or leaving early)
The main thing here is, try not to do either. But, things happen, and the best-laid plans often go awry.
In some private studios, the door will be closed and quite possibly locked, thus taking care of what to do about late-comers. Pounding on the door would not be a viable option here. In gym settings, or in studios where walking in late is possible, be respectful of the meditative yearnings of the rest of the class who showed up on time — open and close the door quietly, tiptoe in, open and lay down your mat as delicately as if you were handling TNT.
Be as unobtrusive as a pickpocket. And if you must leave early, best to inform the teacher before class starts, and leave with the utmost quietness. Getting up during savasana (final resting pose) is a no-no.
Taking up space
Avoid wedging your mat in where there is insufficient space Your teacher can help rearrange the layout of mats. That way you won't have to incur the wrath (wrath is unyoga-like, yet not uncommon in such situations) of participants who are already deep into their own inner as well as outer space.
Do not tread on others' mats
This should go without saying, but I am saying it anyway because I see it happening all the time. This is tantamount to inviting yourself into someone else's home. Step over anyone's mat that's not your own.
Come to class clean . . .
Body odor is a big distraction. If your routine is to work out vigorously and then come to yoga class, wash off the sweat and use a deodorant. Hand sanitizers should be liberally employed. Offer to share with your neighbors, especially in flu season. If you are ill, stay away from class; others do not need to be exposed any more than is necessary, and you can always practice at home.
. . . but not too clean
Avoid finishing off your aura with perfumes and colognes. Many people are sensitive to fragrances.
Wear appropriate clothing
Yoga is not about fashion statements. Comfort and practicality rule. Please, leave your shirt on. I have on two occasions witnessed practitioners strip during class. I suppose that one may ask permission before doing so in an unusually warm setting.
On doing your own thing
Don't. Even if you have a better practice than the teacher, or anyone else in the room. This kind of thing leads to a free-for-all, which is definitely not conducive to a mind-body-spirit balanced class. If there is a pose that you just have to do, and the teacher is not offering it, wait until the end of class and go do it to your heart's content. Now, if you are pregnant, that is a whole other matter. You do need to modify poses and avoid certain ones as well.
Breathing too loudly
Uijayi pranayama (ocean-sounding, or victorious breath) is a wonderful practice, even if you have not been invited by the teacher to use it. But it can be distracting to others. Properly performed, it should be audible only as far as the next mat over. And please, no grunting; if the pose is too strenuous, simply back off and pause in prayer or child pose.
Thank your teacher
Simply repeat "namaste" after she says it at the end of class, even if you are a bit unsure of exactly what it means. And perhaps you might take a moment to expand upon the sentiment by saying a bit more about how great the class was, etc. Teachers love feedback.
That means wiping off your mat, especially if you are using one that belongs to the facility. Put away your props too — neatly. Be like a Boy Scout and leave the place a little better than you found it.
Courtesy: Copyright © 2011, Reuters