Of late, I've been trying to attend at least one yoga class a week. There are various motivations behind this, but mainly I'm hoping (desperately praying/begging) to become a little more flexible. My inflexibility is borderline ridiculous: I can't touch my toes in a forward fold (cough, notevenclose, cough), I can barely touch my toe when seated with one leg stretched forward, my knees are nowhere near the ground when seated with my feet sole to sole - you get the picture - total muscle tightness.
In addition to the flexibility, though, it's a nice time to relax some anxiety and learn about being more mindful. And occasionally, it will be a really good/hard workout. So, all this to say, I really like yoga, and think that gained flexibility & mindfulness will help me with other athletic aspects of my life.
Through the various classes I've attended, though, I've noticed that there are some unspoken rules that most class-attending veterans know. Thankfully for you all, I'm going to help you learn these, so as to make any class experience you might have better.
Yoga for Dummies
1) Arrive to class early, not too early, and NEVER late.
a) Arriving early is key. And the second you get there, put your mat down. You need to stake your territory. If you first go to the back room to get blankets & blocks, you risk coming out to a full room of mats.
b) If you arrive too early, you risk an extremely awkward 5 minutes alone with your teacher. If you do arrive too early, stake your territory, and then pretend you need to use the bathroom.
c) NEVER arrive late. Never. Particularly if it's a class where the mats face the door, and particularly if it's a class that's usually quite full. Fail to follow this rule and you risk: dirty looks, exasperated sighs, a spot in either the very front of the classroom or dangerously close to another student (igniting yet another exasperated sigh), and eye rolls. You also risk the teacher, in his soothing voice, saying something like, "continue to concentrate, ignore the sounds around you, ignore the student who arrived late..."
2) Do not forget to take your shoes off before you walk on the floor of the classroom.
a) WHOA. Seriously. That's sacred ground you're walking on. Get those filthy things off, or your might see the bulge of a teacher's neck vein while he tells you with a strained expression, "no, it's fine, just try to remember next time."
3) Chose which student you sit by carefully.
a) Avoid anyone smelly.
b) Avoid anyone sweaty.
c) Avoid the woman who's chatty & talks to everyone before class.
d) Avoid the man who looks really inflexible and makes a comment that it's his first class (this warrants too much attention from the teacher in your part of the room).
e) Avoid anyone who could be mistaken for Gumby (ie the woman who arrives at class and goes into a forward fold with her head behind her knees so she can put her hair in a ponytail), she will undoubtedly ignite self-doubt.
f) Avoid anyone in a warm-up headstand when you arrive (friggin show off).
4) Don't bring a water bottle that requires effort to open (or you risk a similar reaction to item 1c). But actually, on second thought, don't bring a water bottle period - it's YOGA, you can get a drink when it's over.
5) If a pose is particularly difficult to you, claim a past "sports injury" to avoid interrogation from your teacher.
And finally, one of the more important lessons (that, if you're lucky, has been learned by watching another student, not personal experience)...
6) Don't eat beans the day of class. Enough said.