If you are still fairly new to yoga, then you might not yet feel totally at ease with what the etiquette in a yoga class is all about. Generally, yoga classes are pretty relaxed affairs and the rules for behavior are not spelled out, or put up on notice boards, but there are still the unspoken rules that you should be aware of. Even if you're a practiced yogi, this might be a good refresher!
1. Before you leave the house, refrain from putting on any strong scents
Most yoga classes emphasize deep breathing so you want to be mindful not to overwhelm your fellow yogis with perfume, scented lotion, or body spray. You want to smell nice and you certainly don’t want to smell of body odor, but be careful not to go overboard with the scent.
2. Be considerate about where you place your mat
You don't want to set up too close to someone else (and risk smacking them during sun salutations), but in a crowded studio, it may be difficult for latecomers to find a place if all the mats are spaced far apart. In a full class, a good strategy is to stagger your mat, so it's not perfectly lined up with your neighbor's.
3. Never step on someone else's mat
Your mat is basically your personal space, so it's not very pleasant for someone to put their feet there when you're about to put your face and hands on that same mat.
4. Limit conversation before class
If you're with a friend, try to keep your voices down while you're waiting for the teacher to begin. This is especially important if the classroom climate is silent. People typically come to yoga to unplug and find their zen, so it's challenging to do that when you're surrounded by chatter.
5. Take your shoes off at the door
Most yoga studios provide cubbies or lockers for your personal belongings. Once you're inside, go barefoot or wear socks.
6. No phones please!
Switch off your phone and leave it in your locker, because, no electronic gadgets allowed, is another unwritten rule of yoga class. You are supposed to be concentrating on what you are doing and everyone else is trying to concentrate too. Even a sneaky peak at your messages can disrupt your classmates.
7. Arriving Late
Delays can happen and everyone knows that, but if you do arrive late, then sneak into the back row quietly and don’t draw attention to yourself. Also you're messing with other people's zen, especially in a class that starts with chanting and deep breathing and if it's your first class, it's even more important to be timely. The vast majority of yoga studios will require you complete a new student information form on your first visit
8. Don’t forget to get your props before class
If you keep getting up and walking to the side of the room to collect equipment during class, you’re bound to annoy even the most zen yogis. Most studios will offer everything you need, so before class grab a yoga mat, and any additional props you might want to use, including a strap, towel, and a block to help you with some of the more difficult moves.
9. Leaving class early/during Savasana
I get that sometimes you have to sneak out early, but it's disrupting for others in the class when trying to relax and let everything go, and someone is packing up. If you absolutely can't stay for the last few minutes, try to nab a spot near the door so you can quietly exit without disturbing your classmates. Most importantly, the final resting posture in yoga is the key to bringing all of the benefits of the practice together. Do not throw 5000 years of wisdom away. If you’re going in for yoga, don’t skip this crucial part of the practice. Take the time to allow the muscles to relax fully and the mind and body to absorb the benefits of the practice. Use it to let go, increase the oxygen intake to the muscles and brain tissue and prepare for the continuation of your day.
10. Stop competing with yourself
Yoga is a non-competitive practice. This means that you're neither competing against other people, or yourself. Every day in yoga is different. Whilst a lot of the famous Instagram yogis give you great inspiration to improve your practice, if one day you go to class and can’t even touch your knees, let alone your toes, accept that that’s where your body is today, and that it's okay.
11. Not clearing up after yourself
When the class has finished, avoid leaving a mess behind you and don’t expect someone else to clear it up. Pack away your props and wipe down your mat with the disinfectant that is probably provided for you, before you put that away too. Some yoga studios hold back-to-back classes, so they don’t have a lot of time to go around clearing up after the last class.
12. Thank the teacher
This isn’t about playing teacher’s pet, but it’s common politeness to thank your yoga teacher after a class. If you have any questions, after class is also the time to approach your teacher and chat away.
13. Allow the teacher to guide you
As an instructor it frustrating when people move ahead of the rest of the class. I know it can be hard if you don't feel challenged enough, but try to resist the urge to create your own sequence as this can be confusing for any first-timers in the room. Instead, make sure you've signed up for the right class for your skill set (e.g. beginner, intermediate, advanced, or open level). That said, if you're tired or have an injury, don't hesitate to rest in child's pose, you can catch up with the class in downward dog before the next sequence.
14. Stop looking at other people for comparison
Some people are gymnasts... like, actual trained gymnasts who have been stretching their muscles since the age of three. Some people are overweight and trying to do something gentle to help themselves get healthier. None of this matters to you. Distracting yourself with whether you’re better or worse than the person on the mat next to you will do nothing to improve your practice. Concentrate on your body and how you feel.
Which of the above have you done? Do you have any tips for beginners? Leave a comment below and share the wisdom!
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ABOUT OUR TEACHERS
Based in Marbella, Spain and originally from Australia, Susan holds a RYT 200 hours certification with Yoga Alliance and is currently completing her 500 hours. Susan teachers Vinyasa, Yin Yoga, Yoga Nidra and Pilates. With an emphasis on balancing the physical, mental and emotional state through a guided practice.