Although our yoga mats are our own space, we share the hot yoga studio with teachers and fellow students. Community spaces are not just rooms in a building but are held in place between our bodies and how we treat those with whom we share a space. Although during class we may move in sync with the same rhythms and flows, there are some behaviours that may be disruptive to another’s practice. Instead of telling you what not to do, we have compiled a list of off-the-mat practices that are community-centered and empower you to co-create a space in which your yoga practice is tied to the comfort, happiness and ease of others.
1) Give yourself enough time to arrive a little earlier for class. This way you won’t be walking in late when others are in their first happy baby of the day. This also gives you some time to connect with the studio staff and teachers before the class to discuss injuries, access needs and connect!
2) Our shoes carry the tough energies of our day, as well as dirt. Hot yoga is a bare-footed practice and there is something grounding about walking around barefoot in a studio trusting that others have not worn their outside shoes in the space.
3) Instead of rushing into a class right when the class before you is ending, sit down and enjoy some tea. There will be enough space for you. Your favourite location in the room will be waiting for you or maybe you’ll discover a new location! This way you are not bumping into those who just finished a challenging or super relaxing class and may be disoriented.
4) Locking up your belongings in the changing room instead of bringing everything into the yoga room is a way of holding space for more bodies and mats in the room!
5) If it is a smaller class size, try and leave some space between you and others so everyone can take that extra space to really go deeper in those twists.
6) Whispering, gossiping, talking with friends in the yoga room can really be stressful and irritating for others who only have the brief moments before the class as their time for meditation. Instead, use the time to acquaint yourself with silence, meditation or some deep breathing practices. This also applies to technology (cellphones, pagers, watches that beep)
7) Make sure to grab an adjustment consent chip before entering the heated room to indicate to the teacher whether you would like hands-on modifications, support and adjustments.
8) There will be a class where there may not be more than an inch of space between you and your neighbour. Turns out that live music Sunday night class is everyone’s favourite too. Make space for others to enjoy the evening with you and try out a humble cactus post instead of a full stretch.
9) Although lavender, eucalyptus and mint scents feel great for you, be mindful of how much your scents travel as others may be sensitive or allergic to scents. Certain scents may compromise other students’ ability to breathe comfortably and could possibly trigger an allergic or asthmatic reaction. Please also be mindful of any scented products you bring into the studio to use after class including cosmetics, deodorants, perfume/cologne, shampoo, etc. It’s important to remember that the studio is a shared space, one that thrives best when we all show little extra kindness and understanding towards our classmates.
10) Remember to return rented or borrowed items back to the front desk or place used items in the cleaning stations.
11) Yoga is not just for “everybody”, it’s for every “body.” Sometimes we can’t help but compare our poses to our neighbour’s or stare at everyone else in the practice room. Practice ways to compassionately and lovingly gaze at yourself and others during yoga. It is a way to embrace yourself, and others. No matter where we are on our yoga journeys, we are here, together, moving through the same postures however they feel right in our own individual body.