Yoga With Weights Etiquette

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If Miss Manners were a yoga instructor, she would want you to observe these fine points of yoga-with-weights etiquette:

Respect the yoga tradition. Be mindful of others and of the yoga tradition when you enter the exercise room. Yoga classes are different from fitness classes in that most instructors prefer a quiet, contemplative atmosphere in the room.

Respect the silence. As much as you want to ask a question of your instructor from time to time, try to wait until class is finished. Only one voice should be heard in the classroom — the teacher’s. Remember that other students are concentrating on their workouts and on how their bodies feel, and they’re listening carefully to the instructor’s words — you should be, too. Asking a question in class may break the other students’ concentration and disturb the flow of the class.

Don’t arrive late. Arriving late to any appointment is rude, but in yoga classes it’s also a matter of safety. The first few exercises in a yoga class are meant to warm you up physically and mentally for the later exercises. If you skip the warm-up exercises, you may subject yourself to injury later on. Some instructors believe you should skip the class if you arrive more than five minutes late.

Don’t leave early. Some people have a “What’s next?” mentality. They can’t focus on the present because they’re always looking ahead to their next activities. This kind of thinking runs contrary to the yoga philosophy, which says you should always be aware of the present and what you’re doing in the here and now. Even if you’re eager to go to your next appointment, don’t leave class early.

Don’t snap your mat open. Admittedly, this is a pet peeve with us, but too many students snap their yoga mats open when they place them on the floor, and the noise disturbs others. It sounds like a giant rubber band snapping.

Leave your shoes and other belongings at the back of the room. Practically speaking, if students litter their shoes and belongings around the room, it makes for an untidy and distracting mess. Leave your personal stuff in the back where others don’t have to look at it. Spiritually speaking, you symbolically leave the world outside when you leave your belongings in the back of the room. You let go of outside distractions and say to yourself, “This is my time to focus on myself and my body.”

Be careful with the weights. Place the weights parallel to the floor so they don’t tip over and fall on anyone. And never drop the weights. In old-style weightlifting , lifters dropped the weights on the floor when they finished the exercises. To keep from making too much noise, harming the floors, annoying the neighbors below, and hurting your toes, gently place the weights on the floor in a place where no one will step on them.
Deal with flatulence. As we explain in Chapter 1, many yoga exercises fall in the squeeze-and-soak category, which means they massage your internal organs. This is good for you because the exercises squeeze toxins from your body, but they sometimes produce an unwanted side effect — flatulence. Usually the culprits are newcomers to the class, so be warned when newcomers start to twist and turn, especially if their mats are next to yours. Because deep breathing is an essential part of yoga with weights, and because the doors and windows are usually closed in exercise rooms, flatulence can be a real problem. As instructors, we’re sometimes tempted to comment on flatulence to relieve the tension of having a silent-but-deadly killer in the room, but we don’t want to embarrass the perpetrator, so we remain silent. You can help prevent flatulence by not eating in the hour or two before class, avoiding foods that trigger flatulence in your body, and chewing your food slowly and carefully. After you gain experience and get healthier through regular exercise and a conscious choice of foods, excessive, uncontrollable flatulence usually diminishes.

Don’t wear scents. Many people are sensitive to fragrances, no matter how lovely or natural those fragrances purport to be. Remember that you’re part of a group when you attend class. Come smelling as Mother Nature intended you to smell — fresh and clean, with no added fragrance. Everyone will breathe a sigh of relief.

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