Admittedly, the martial artist in me is aghast in the yoga world. Where once I bowed for every occasion, remained silent, and maintained politeness, now I observe the disintegration of these beautiful gestures of tradition and respect. Healthy tradition preserves the necessary hierarchies that allow the practice to be passed down.
I have replicated, and in some instances, rephrased the above pdf to reflect on how the contemporary yoga environment might consider instating similar enculturation. As you read, imagine this environment:
Yoga is not a sport. Yoga is not exercise. It is a discipline, an educational process for training the mind, body, and spirit. A yoga studio is not a gymnasium. It is the place where the way of the discipline is revealed. Physical technique is not the final objective, but a tool for personal refinement and spiritual growth. The correct attitudes of respect, sincerity, and modesty combined with the proper atmosphere are essential to the learning process. And as yoga is a martial practice, they are essential to the safety of each individual. The following rules are necessary to the maintenance of this atmosphere and vital to your study of yoga.
Cleaning is an active prayer of thanksgiving. It is each student's responsibility to assist in cleaning the dojo and to cleanse his or her own mind and heart.
You cannot buy technique. The membership dues provide a place for training and a way in which to show gratitude for the teaching received. It is each students responsibility to pay dues on time.
Rules of Training
It is necessary to respect the way in which the instructor of the class directs the training. Receive instruction and carry out suggestions for training sincerely and to the best of your ability.
Proper Studio Etiquette
Yoga is the education and refinement of the spirit. You will not be aked to adhere to any religious doctrine, but only to remain spiritually open. When we bow it is not a religious performance, but a sign of respect for the same spirit of universal creative intelligence within us all.
The words spoken at the beginning of practice between the students and instructor are, "Onegai shimasu." Loosely translated it is a request which when spoken by the student means, "Please give me your instruction." When spoken by the teacher it means, "Please receive my instruction." The words spoken by the student to the instructor at the end of practice are, "Domo arigato gozaimashita." "You have my respect and gratitude for what you have just done." This is the most respectful way of saying thank you.
Upon entering and leaving the practice area of the studio make a standing bow.
Respect your training tools. Clothing should be clean and mended.
Never use someone else's mat.
A few minutes before class time you should be formally seated in quiet meditation to rid your mind of the day's problems and prepare for study.
It is important to be on time for practice and participate in the opening ceremony. If you are unavoidably late you should wait, formally seated beside the entrance until the instructor signals his or her permission for you to join the class. Quietly perform a simple seated bow as you get on the mat. The only proper way to sit on the mat is in formal sitting position.
never with legs outstretched, never reclining, and never leaning against walls or posts.
Do not leave the mat during class except in the case of injury or illness. During class when the instructor demonstrates a technique for practice, sit quietly and attentively in seiza.
Never stand around idly on the mat. You should be practicing
Respect those more experienced. Never argue about technique.
Respect those less experienced. Do not pressure your ideas on others.
Keep talking on the mat to an absolute minimum. Yoga is experience.
No eating, drinking, smoking or gum chewing on or off the mat during practice.
No jewelry should be worn during practice, including rings and pierced earrings. No cologne/perfumes should be worn. Clothing should not be laundered with strongly scented products.
Do not talk to anyone while they are on the mat and class is in progress; talking during class is impolite.
Do not talk or walk around while the instructor is demonstrating or during the opening and closing ceremony.
It is poor etiquette to question the teacher or senior’s authority or technical knowledge, and especially so during a class.
If you are confused about something, ask respectfully during or after the class.
For serious questions, endeavor first to learn the answer through continued practice and observation of other students. If a problem can be solved in this way, the answer will become permanent knowledge. Consult the teacher only as a final resort.
Breaks are allocated throughout the entire class and not to be taken in the middle of the class unless necessary.
If for any reason you must leave the dojo during practice, either temporarily or permanently, ask the teacher's permission to leave or return.
Be attentive during a class. Do not act inattentively and waste your time and everyone else’s. Talking interferes with what the teacher is explaining and with the concentration of other students.
Always remember, “Tai wa kokoru arawasu” (Your actions reveal your heart).