The modern style of yoga we practice in the West was inspired by Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, considered to be “The Father of Modern Yoga.” Thanks to his first female chela (pupil) Indra Devi, often referred to as “The First Lady of Yoga” or Mataji (Mother), yoga spread worldwide from Asia, to Mexico, onto Russia, and finally to the U.S.
According to a survey by Yoga Alliance and Yoga Journal, the top reasons why U.S. Americans practice yoga include: flexibility (61 percent); stress relief (56 percent); and general fitness (49 percent). Before heading to your local studio, read these five tips for a more mindful practice.
- Be mindful of clothing: Clothing will vary depending on the type of class, but be appropriate, comfortable, and aware of clothing sheerness. If unsure about sheerness or the shortness of shorts, hold off on wearing more revealing gear until you determine the unofficial dress code.
- Arrive early: Even if you’re an experienced yogi, arriving early to class is a great habit to develop. This allows you to speak to the instructor and tell them about recent injuries, new pains, or medical conditions. You may also ask for advice on how to enter into a pose or achieve better body placement.
- Shoes at the door: One of the five niyamas, yoga’s ethical principles of self-discipline, is saucha, or purity and cleanliness. Removing your shoes before stepping into the studio and onto the mat helps maintain a clean, germ-free environment. The custom of leaving shoes at the door and off the mat signifies respect of Eastern traditions. If you aren’t comfortable going completely barefoot, slip on a pair of non-slip yoga socks before stepping onto your mat.
- Respect the instructor and their sequence: One of the most important principles in yoga is union (samadhi). Derived from the Sanskrit root yug which means to join. While modifying difficult positions is okay, making up your own sequence is not. The best method is to practice at your appropriate class level. If you’re a yogi master taking an open level class, stay with the rest of the class and only perform more advanced poses if and when instructed. Avoid instructing others in an open class, and allow the instructor to answer class participant questions. Avoid volunteering.
- Respect Savasana: This simple, but mindful pose is frequently the most difficult. Savasana, often called the corpse pose, allows you to assimilate all the benefits of the session. Do your best not to allow your mind to wander, but rather to samprada or surrender your consciousness. Refrain from leaving class early, childish gossiping, conjuring to-do lists, listing bill payments, or contemplating social media posts.
Whether you practice Eastern or Western yoga, consider these 5 tips to help you and fellow yogis achieve ananda (bliss). – Namaste.
Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE centre, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, Fortune, and the National Business Journals. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards.
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