Practical Considerations For Yoga Asana
The following are some essential and practical guidelines for the practice of yoga:
- The practice room should be considered a sacred and mindful space. Once you step into the practice room, cell phones should already be turned off. Please do not use your phone in any way once you have entered the practice room.
- Drink minimal fluids only up to one hour before practice so that the bladder can be empty during practice. Do not drink water or anything else during practice unless it's absolutely necessary. Adding fluids while practicing impedes and dilutes the flow of prana, and can also be an avenue of distraction. It's best to wait half an hour after practice to eat or drink as well, so that you can fully benefit from the post-practice prana flowing more purely through the body. This is also a healthy practice of self-discipline and restraint.
- Before asana, the intestines and bowels should also be emptied. Asana can be practiced one hour after a very light meal, or up to four hours after a heavy meal.
- If you arrive late for class and enter during the opening talk or meditation, kindly take a seat on the floor right by the door as quietly as possible. Do not lay out your mat or gather any props until the opening talk or meditation is complete. You can set yourself up after the opening talk or meditation. Arriving late happens to all of us, but in this way, the burden of your lateness is kept with you and does not distract those who arrived on time.
- If you are within arm’s length of a fellow yogi, make sure the fronts of your mats are staggered by about 12-14". Make sure you are also an arm’s length away from the side walls, and that you can extend your leg up and back in downward dog without hitting the back wall.
- Arrange your props neatly to minimize the clutter in the room. Our eyes are constantly feeding our brains information, and clutter in the room contributes to a sense of clutter in the mind. For the same reason, no personal possessions should be in view in the center of the room or around the perimeter. Personal possessions in particular remind the brain of identity and busyness, amongst other things. In our practice, we are letting go of these things and returning to an inner essence. Therefore, for the benefit of all, kindly put your things away and out of view. (See entry about the Eyes.)
- If a teacher is demonstrating a pose, leave your mat to observe the demonstration closely. This is a gesture of respect for the teacher, ensures you see the important details of the pose, and is a valuable practice of getting out of your comfort zone.
- Always work from where you are on any given day. Work as a friend and a guide to the body, not a conquerer or adversary.
- Lastly, as BKS Iyengar said, “The practice of asana without the backing of yama and niyama is mere acrobatics.”. The yamas are moral codes regarding our interactions with others, such as non-violence and truthfulness. The niyamas are moral codes regarding our interactions with ourselves, such as self-love and self-discipline. To experience the more transformative and spiritual benefits of yoga, you'll want to include these moral codes in your practice.