Class Etiquette



Class Culture
Yoga is a conscious practice of infinite levels. It is deeper than asana
Yoga and meditation have a magical way of expanding boundaries and helping you discover the strengths and gifts within yourself. However, there is a world of difference between yoga in a traditional Yoga centre and a gym environment. The peace and healing you feel once you enter the front door is further enhanced when you walk towards the yoga studio. You know you've come home. Your search for Truth ends there, where you are - the day you will finally know what you have to do, and began to journey deeper within yourself, to connect with the core from which everything emerges.
In class, normal, like-minded, gentle people who are supportive (not competitive), surround you, each on their own yoga mat, tuning into their own world of peace, and not judging you. The gurus - your teachers - are your own body, breath and mind. 
Feel welcome to come along and experience holistic, transformative practices, in a great location, and relaxing atmosphere, with an amazing teacher born in India, who has an unbroken, unswerving, track record of guiding students in health, healing, and the journey within, via the wisdom practices of yoga, meditation and ayurveda, for over four decades in Australia. Remember, "when the student is ready, the teacher will come."  You are cordially invited to spend an hour, a morning or evening, or at retreat, surrounded by friends. You know when you feel right. 
Class attendance - The basics
Whether you're new to yoga or have been practicing for years, these guidelines apply:
Wash your body (bathe) before you attend the centre.
• Arrive a few minutes before the start of class. In this way you give yourself enough time to select your space and get settled on your mat.
It is advisable not to have a heavy meal before class.
• Your body is your teacher. Be a student. Listen to your body. Each and every yoga class is yours. The person next to you has a different life story. Make sure to do your class and not theirs
• Remember that every class is different and that you are different in every class. On some days you will be able to balance on one leg easily, and on others you will wobble. You will find that your mat is an indication of where you are in your day/life. If you feel scattered and distracted, this will show up in your practice. Be patient, supportive and encouraging.
• Be present. Put aside your mental grocery list making, your computer, phone, the past, whatever. This is your time. Enjoy it.
• If you're new or have an injury, let the teacher know. This helps them teach as much as it helps you practice.
• Personalise modifications to your postures that are appropriate to you on the day.  Stay with the sequence led by the teacher. If necessary, modify a given pose with a close alternative. Use your inner guidance to honour what is best for you. However, at the end of the day, it makes no difference if you choose the cat over the downward dog, or shavasana over surya namaskara
• Focus on the flow of your breath within the form of the asana. There are some days where your mind races. When this happens, don’t get up and leave. Instead, focus on your breath as it flows in, and as it flows out. It’s more advantageous to focus on calming breaths than repeatedly remind yourself of a task you have to complete later on in the day.
• Enjoy the quiet deepening of your practice and your personality with a carefree heart. This is your time. Allow your breath to become even and rhythmical and your mind focused and calm. During the practice, keep talking to a minimum. This includes self talk.
• Find a yoga class that you enjoy. Our centre has different types of classes, such as: hatha, traditional, gentle, restorative, stretch and tone, each with numerous flow sequences. In one class you will hold a pose longer, to build strength, while in another you will flow through a sequence quickly, to elevate your heart rate. Some are done fully on the floor, to free the spine, relieve back pain and strengthen the core. Others open the hips, align the body to transform it into a vessel for the flow of subtle energy. Still others synchronise the movement with the breath and are done standing, sitting or kneeling, while others mix it all up. There are also other classes on the timetable, such as Deep relaxation, Meditation, Pranayama (yoga breathing), Bharat Natyam (classical Indian dance), Bollywood (contemporary Indian dance) and chanting. 
• If you don't like one class or you don't click with a certain teacher, find another one. There truly is a practice for everyone. Each teacher is unique, with a distinct teaching style, voice and practice.
The opening meditation and closing relaxation with its gentle focus on the breath along with remaining a  silent witness, will enable you to absorb the benefits of the practice more fully . 
You will find that the benefits of yoga are immeasurable. The class allows you to be present and in the moment. It will enable you to detach yourself from your day-to-day distractions, mobile phone and computer for a morning or evening, or even for 55 minutes. At the end of the class, you will feel that you are an all-round 'whole' person, with more patience, more peace. Everyone wins.
Good Yoga Manners
Here are some unspoken, yet understood basics of good manners whilst practising yoga with a group of people. These, like anything in life, stem from not thinking “it is all about me“, and understanding that there are other people who your actions affect. Manners should not fade into the past. Opening the door for another person, using your indicators whilst driving, saying 'excuse me' or 'thank you', or just moving you mat or meditation cushion over a bit to make space for another, should be a regular practice. You know you appreciate it when it is done to you. Well, karma expects you to keep it going.
What's the best time to do Yoga?
Whenever you can do it is the short answer, though you'll notice that your practice feels different at different times of the day.
Morning: Awaken. In the morning, it's better to start off slowly and ramp up the intensity as you go, by adding standing stretches and sun salutations at the end, so that you finish energised for the day ahead. 
Noon: Invigorate. A midday show of strength, with a more vigorous practice, is just the thing to prevent an afternoon slump.
Night: Relax. The choice for the end of your day should help you unwind. Make sure to include longer holds, and deep relaxation to help you transition both mind and body to sleep.

Do I need to register for class or can I just drop-in?

Feel free to drop-in to any class. There is a lot of value in regular attendance. You can become familiar with the variety and sequences, get into the flow, and really feel the benefits. The lessons build for those students who attend regularly. Additionally, there are membership privileges. 
Workshops and courses require pre-registration.

Can I enter class if I am late? 

Most people try to be on time for the beginning of class, which is when the initial, deepening of awareness, body scanning, breathwork and foundational, opening movements take place. If you are late, please enter very quietly. In the early stage of a class, noise does seem much louder to those already lying down and going deeper, than to the person who has just arrived from the noisy, outside world. So, opening up a yoga mat can sound quite loud and be distracting to those who are in the process of being settled. If you believe that you are noisy or clumsy, just sit inside the yoga room while the beginning, settling section of the session is in progress. When the meditation is completed, come and settle yourself in. The world does not stop for us to meditate and we can all do better by cultivating more compassion and tolerance to late comers.

Mobile phones, voices and sound 

When the teacher starts talking to set the tone for the class, please stop talking. This also shows your respect for others, who, like you, have come to practice. To keep whispering is considered impolite.
Please make sure mobile phones are turned off during class. Keeping your mobile phone near you with an audible beep, could be looked upon as poor manners to others in the room, and it is also counter-productive for you. Your yoga class is a precious opportunity to connect with your body and mind, and to disconnect from technology.
At the end of your class, please keep your voice low as a courtesy to other students who like to remain quiet and could be staying on for the following back-to-back class.
The same applies to mobile phone use. Please leave the yoga room before you turn on your mobile phone or look for messages.

I do shiftwork. Can I leave class early?

If you need to leave early, good etiquette indicates that you would have informed your teacher at the beginning of class if an opportunity presented itself. Be sure to take a few minutes to sit or do a short shavasana (corpse pose) before you leave. In consideration towards others, please be quiet when moving around or leaving, while the class is lying in shavasana (relaxation/meditation), which is arguably the best part of the class. This is a time to let the body absorb everything you just did during asana (the postures) and pranayama (yoga breathing) at a molecular level. It works. Preferably leave before relaxation begins, not during it.  

Differences in our teachers, students and personalities

At Shanti Yoga we have several teachers. All yoga teachers have different energies and styles, and the same is true of your fellow students at the centre. While acknowledging what you love and enjoy, these differences also present you with an opportunity to build tolerance, compassion, and patience within yourself. What's important is to practice kindness and good manners towards everyone. Group practice can create an intuitive team. No words need to be said. The body feels and the mind knows. We feel each other's energy. Respecting the code of yoga manners instills peace.

What if I have never done yoga before?

Classes build from the ground up, and beginners are able to attend all of the classes, because of the way that Shanti Yoga is designed and taught. Every class is a ‘multilevel’ class which is guided and demonstrated throughout, with safety features incorporated throughout the class. Shanti Yoga practices are suitable and modified so that beginners, people experiencing pain or difficulties, or those recovering from surgery can attend all the classes along with students at all levels, from beginners to experienced. 
Please note, you might like to consider classes that Shantiji personally teaches more like a full morning or evening of yoga spirituality and health with her - if you are so fortunate! Even though they are timetabled with hourly breaks for those who can only attend for a shorter period of time, her classes are generally longer. Time wise, they blend into each other and build your practice. Just check the timetable.

Do I need to be flexible to do yoga?

No. You can start as you are. Shanti Yoga offers stretches and a gentle approach that slowly but powerfully encourage your muscles and joints to open up and release, freeing tension and tightness. It is a gentle, yet powerful system of yoga that anyone can safely practice. Moving into your postures mindfully and with breath awareness, allows your body to enter into a comfortable stretch without any strain or injury. It doesn’t matter how inflexible you are, with regular practice, you will be amazed at how your body responds. Remembering that the body is linked with the mind, means that we also need to quieten and relax the mind, in order to achieve a more open and relaxed body that will be able to stretch.

Can I bring my partner to class?

Yes, classes are mixed and both genders are welcome.
Should I train with the one teacher?
In the commercial world, driven by marketing and advertising, we are encouraged to 'try' various approaches and practices. An emphasis on experiencing variety and cross pollination is valuable as an academic exercise. However, this type of 'research' is not a deepening part of a spiritual and disciplined syllabus. It might tell you more about 'it' or 'them', however, the spiritual journey is about the realisation of self/non-self. When you encounter genuine, traditional, spiritual organisations and teachers, the focus is much more about discipline (in other words discipleship) and unbroken practice towards a single, spiritual goal. (The context of 'One' here is not to represent a numerical concept, but represents the whole). This goal is not about gaining information, experiences, or getting 'high', but about being free. This, of course does not mean to say that you won't have your highs (and lows) whilst engaged in your practice - you will have several - but these are not the goal of your practice, they are just what happens along the way.
In your yoga journey, you will no doubt come across both types of approaches as you take darshan from mentors and leaders of various lineages and disciplines. You could experience many people wanting to 'sell' you something - not necessarily for money. And wherever we go, there we are! The world is simply our projection. However, to consolidate your yoga learning and practice, it will be beneficial if it's from a platform of unlearning.

Attire: What should I wear to class?

Regarding dress code, we accept students as they are. In general, students are advised to wear clean, loose-fitting, modest clothing. 
Yoga has evolved past the era of lycra, spandex, leotards and other special clothing. Comfortable clothing of any kind that will allow you to move freely is appropriate. Since you could possibly do an inverted posture, you need to wear clothes that will not reveal parts of your body that you would rather stay hidden. Thus trousers are easier than skirts for privacy and ease of movement. The bathrooms are available if you require to change.
It is better to practice yoga standing postures with clean, bare feet, so that you maintain good contact with your mat and avoid slipping. We have a ‘no shoes’ policy in the yoga room. You can leave your footwear in the rack provided. Please feel welcome to wear your socks during the breathing, relaxation and meditation classes. 
Whilst we try to keep the temperature in the room just right, it’s nice to have a few layers so that you can adjust your body temperature to make it the most comfortable for you. So, consider wearing a sweat or track suit jacket when you attend if you get cold easily. You can always remove extra layers during class if you begin to get hot. We provide warm, soft blankets for yoga relaxation.

Do I need to bring any equipment?

Fabric covered mats, cushions, towels, blankets, straps and props are all provided at no extra charge, However, you are welcome to bring your own equipment if you wish. Some students keep their own personal mats at the centre. You can be shown where they are stored when you attend. These personal yoga mats are, of course, not for general use by other students. Please bring a fresh towel to place on top of one of the centre's fabric covered mats, if you do not have your own mat. There are towels available if you do not have one. You may like to bring your own eye pillow to use during relaxation. 

May I bring water into the studio?

Feel free to bring your own water. However, we do have filtered water in an urn and cups in the yoga studio, and sell Nirvana Living water, from the natural spring at Nirvana Wellness Sanctuary, our retreat centre. For safety reasons we discourage glass bottle or open glasses/cups of water in the studio. 

Is there a place to change my clothes?

You are welcome to change your clothes in one of the bathrooms.

What if I leave something at the centre?

Lost and found is located at the front desk. Because of the space this takes up, unclaimed items, including yoga mats, are kept for two weeks and then recycled or donated to charity. 

How long after a meal is it okay to practice?

The general rule of thumb is, come to class with an open mind and an empty stomach. So, avoid eating a heavy meal for at least an hour and a half to two hours before your yoga class. If you do need to eat before class, a piece of light fruit, a minimum of half an hour before class should be alright.
Can I record?
No. Not even if the instructor says it's okay. Real people are involved. While we absolutely trust you and know that you wouldn't allow your recording to go any further, unfortunately, we can't guarantee that everyone will be as responsible. For this reason, we have had to make a blanket rule. We hope you understand.

Personal needs 

If you have an injury or areas that need to be brought to our attention, please tell the teacher at the beginning of class. If, at any time, you feel the need to rest during class, please do so. If you prefer to not participate in partner exercises or receive gentle assistance from the teacher, let the teacher know.

Health and Hygiene

If you are sick and contagious, please practice at home. Please ensure that you wash your hands with soap after using the bathroom.
For many Shanti Yoga events there are membership privileges. You qualify as a member if you are a student of Shanti Yoga or are attending some of our other courses i.e. that you are current Shanti Yoga student at the centre. 
If you have completed your course and are waiting for your results, or it is past the original completion date of your course, then your class attendance eligibility has expired and you will be required to commence a new payment arrangement. If you have paid a deposit for a course that has not yet commenced, you are classified as a current student from the start date of your course. Please check with reception to confirm your eligibility.
For more information please call the Shanti Yoga Health Institute Australia on (07) 5531 0511 or email us 
Shanti Yoga™
The Health Institute Australia
Australian Government Registered Training Organisation No. 30834
CRICOS Provider No. 03098E

About Shantiji

Shanti Gowans is the globally recognised author and founder of Shanti Yoga™, Meditation and Ayurveda for the self, family and community.

Shantiji has brought the concepts and practices of a healthy body and a still mind to thousands of Australians through her Yoga and Meditation programs on national television... Read more about Shantiji's biography

India-Nepal Tour

Travel with Shanti & Peter Gowans this November for a trip of a lifetime. 

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