So awkward, that sometimes NEW people won't even come to yoga because they feel so uncomfortable with the pre-class atmosphere.
I, too, frequently dislike the moments before class. So I decided we better address this.
Here are Lora's top five things NOT to do before starting yoga. (Followed by a few tips on what TO DO.)
Guess what? Waiting for a class to start is awkward. It will always be awkward. But don't make it worse for yourself or those around you.
FIVE THINGS NOT TO DO BEFORE YOGA CLASS STARTS
1. Do not talk on your phone or text on your phone in the yoga studio!
If you need to text, do it outside the yoga room. There is no way you need your phone so badly that you need to be gabbing or snap chatting in the yoga studio. And please, please, please put your phone on silent and keep it away from your mat.
2. Do not show-off and try to do every supposedly "hard" pose you've ever heard of at the front of the class
Does this one really need an explanation? Showing off and yoga do not go hand-in-hand. It's one thing to practice handstand once or twice at the wall; it's another to try to do fifty million arm balances at the front just to show everyone in the room you can do it. If you really feel you need to do every inversion in the planet or every arm balance--do it in your home practice or wait until after class.
3. You do not need to maniacally do sun salutations!
The number of people who think they need to rush through five sun salutes (or more) before class without breathing astounds me. You are coming to take a yoga class. A good class will provide a good warm-up and connect you to your breath. Do not whip through sun salutes before (especially without BREATHING properly) "just because you feel you need to do something." Just breathe. Just chill. Wait. The teacher will do this for you. Have patience. (Plus, you don't know what class will hold--don't tire yourself out before it has even begun!)
4. Do not practice singing or chanting meditation
Just don't sing in the studio. Pretty please. Unless the instructor is there to help you chant or you ARE the instructor, please don't sing. My ears can't take it.
5. Do not awkwardly fidget around and go in and out of the room over and over again because you just don't know what to do.
Waiting for yoga class IS awkward. That's ok. Just let it be awkward. But getting up and running to and from your spot in the room, moving your mat all around the room, standing up and then sitting down, fidgeting all over your mat, etc. is NOT going to make it any less awkward. Hate to break it to you, but waiting is just uncomfortable. Pick your spot and unless there is a reason (ie making room for someone else) to move all over the room, just hang out there. You'll be fine, I promise.
Waiting for ANYTHING to begin can be uncomfortable. Waiting in a yoga studio, gym, or other space for yoga class to start can sometimes feel TEN TIMES more uncomfortable. Just be with the uncomfortableness. Yoga helps us learn how to act OFF the mat and that process begins BEFORE class has even started.
Use the time before class to go to the bathroom, get water, get your props situated, say hello to a friend, meditate, practice some nice seated poses or poses on your back (savasana before class is always an option), and just sit with the awkwardness. Smile at a stranger. If the teacher is passing out straps or blankets, ask if you can help! Do things to SLOW down the mind and prepare for a great class. You've made it to the mat and now just be patient to watch things unfold.
If you're in a new class and especially nervous, it is okay to ask people around you for the protocol(ie do you need props, which way to face your mat, should you tell the teacher you are new, etc.). Large studios can be more intimidating and have less of a personal relationship with the instructor, whereas small studios may be very chatty before class and the teacher will want to know all about your body before you begin. It's okay to ask others what the etiquette is...and it will probably help you to feel a little more secure and comfortable.
But really, just plop yourself down on your mat and wait for class. Breathe in the awkward. Breathe in the uncomfortable. Just be exactly where you are. Life is uncomfortable ALL OF THE TIME. If you can't just be okay with the five awkward minutes before yoga class, how will you be okay with those awkward moments throughout all of life? Just sit with it. Just breathe. Just be where you are.
You already did the important thing--you made it to class. That's the most important step. Now just be where you are and trust that the magic is happening, without you having to do anything at all. :)
What do you like to do before yoga class starts?