Yoga studios are popping up everywhere. And yoga classes are becoming popular even outside of designated studios, taking place in gyms, workplaces, schools, and online. You can achieve many benefits from the practice of yoga, from toning your body, increasing your flexibility, or finding a space in your mind where you can forget about all the things happening in the world.
However, yoga is just like any other public experience in that there is a specific expectation placed on those entering into a yoga space. Regardless of whether you are completely new to yoga or have been practicing yoga for years, it is vital to ensure that you follow the ins and outs of yoga etiquette. Read on for some of the basic rules to follow when attending a yoga class.
Before You Get to Class
Make sure you know what level class you’re signing up for.
There is no shame in being new to yoga. There are classes that exist specifically for those who are new to the practice. Even if you are fit and exercise regularly, yoga has its own rules that won’t be the same as those you follow in the gym or your other classes. Yoga has its own vocabulary, pacing, and alignment cues. Becoming acclimated to the practice of yoga will be a lot easier and safer for you than jumping right into an intermediate or advanced class.
If you do take an intermediate or advanced class and you aren’t ready for it, the instructor will likely tone down the class for you. However, that isn’t fair to the other people in that class who are more advanced. Comparatively, if you are an advanced student and take a beginner class, stay within the pace and poses that the class is doing. It’s disrespectful to be doing more difficult poses on your own while the beginners are still working on tree pose.
Think About What You Are Wearing
Wear comfortable clothes you can move in. Form-fitting threads help a teacher see your alignment and offer you the right adjustments, but there’s no need for $200 yoga couture. Yoga is about feeling comfortable in your skin, so go with sweats and a tee if that does it for you! Just make sure that your clothes will provide the coverage you want in positions
You want to ensure that you are wearing clothing that you can move in. Although form-fitting clothes are the best to allow the instructor to check your alignment and help you make the right adjustments, you don’t need to go out and buy them if you are only trying out your first classes. And honestly, if you are more comfortable in sweats and a tee, go ahead and wear that! Ultimately, the goal is to be comfortable in your skin while also allowing you to move and remain covered in positions like downward-facing dog.
Don’t Be Late
Time is money. And you aren’t the only one who is paying to attend that class. When you walk into the yoga room late, you risk disrupting the vibe in the room while others are getting themselves centered. This can lead to the instructor needing to repeat themselves and losing out on class time. Ensuring that you are giving yourself enough time to find a parking space, lock your bike up, or walk from the subway and still check-in at the front desk and get your mat set up is essential to having a productive class.
Don’t Wear Yourt Shoes and Skip Your Perfumes
While your perfume may be lovely and subtle, some people have high sensitivities to scents. Minimizing the scent that you bring into the room is showing respect for the shared space. When you enter the yoga studio, you will notice that there is a designated space for footwear. Place your shoes there. Your classmates will value that your shoes aren’t in the areas where they will be putting their heads and hands while doing the yoga class.
Observe What Others are Doing
This might sound obvious, but when you enter the yoga class, note how everyone has set up their mats. People who have taken the course in the past will know how the instructor wants the mats set up. While the class might have marked the floor with tape or paint, not all classes do this. If the entire class has their yoga mats pointed the same way, chances are you should follow suit. If you aren’t sure, you can always ask the instructor. The same rule applies to any yoga props you have brought with you. While you should be informed before your first class which props you should bring with you, a strap, two yoga blocks, and a blanket are standard props for beginners.
Let the Instructor Know if You are Pregnant or Have an Injury or Condition that Will Impact Your Class.
It might seem pretty obvious to everyone that you are pregnant, but the instructor will not make any assumptions and accidentally offend or embarrass one of their students. If you are pregnant, talk to the instructor to learn the dos and don’ts you need to follow to help you remain safe. Ideally, if you are pregnant, you should find a prenatal yoga class as it will naturally have the modifications you need to follow built into it. However, this isn’t always possible.
The same rule applies if you have any injuries or conditions that might affect your ability to do all the yoga poses. Ensuring that your teacher is aware of your limitations will allow them to teach you how to make the proper modifications to keep you safe.
During Yoga Class
When You Can’t Avoid Being Late
Life happens, and sometimes you will be late, whether it’s because of work, traffic, kids, or anything else. It’s bound to happen. It is essential to be aware of what your yoga studio’s policy is on tardiness. While some studios allow for a maximum tardiness of ten minutes, others have a zero late-entry policy. When you are running late to the studio, how you enter the yoga space matters. Ideally, you should enter the class so quietly that no one is disturbed from what they are doing. If you enter loudly, everyone will be disturbed and bothered, and no one wants that.
The most important thing to know about being late: Regardless of the situation, your lateness is on you. It is not the fault of the front desk staff if you aren’t allowed to enter the classroom, and it’s not fair for you to expect them to bend the rules for you. As a responsible adult, you must own your lateness.
Put Your Phone on Silent and Put it Away
Vibrate is not good enough. A continually vibrating phone is just as much of a distraction as a phone that is making chiming, dinging, or beeping noises. If you need to be accessible to someone outside the class (work, childcare, etc.), then have your phone somewhere that you can discreetly check it during the class but leave it on silent.
We are all human, and people will understand the occasional mistake. However, don’t ignore it and hope it won’t make any more noise because, in most cases, it will continue. Instead, if there is a time when you forget to change the setting on your phone and it goes off, simply apologize and get it onto silent.
Don’t Leave Before the Class is Done
In the last few minutes before your class ends, you will practice the corpse pose or Savasana. It might seem silly to do, and you might be tempted to walk out of the class. Don’t. This isn’t just a cooldown. It is a chance for your body and your mind to consciously rest. It is an essential part of yoga practice as it allows your body to fully reap all the benefits of the yoga you have done.
Leaving while people are trying to enjoy the last few minutes of class can be very frustrating for the others in your class. If you absolutely must leave before the class is over, let your teacher know before the class begins, and ensure that you are positioned in the back of the class to allow you to leave with minimal disruptions to the class.
Enjoy the Practice
Probably the most essential rule in this whole article is to enjoy the process of learning yoga. Patience will pay off. There are many different styles of yoga, and instructors can vary greatly as well. If you really don’t feel like a class is a good fit for you, please try another one. Give yourself time, both mentally and physically, to be transformed by the practice of yoga. (You may want to read… Is Cold Yoga a Joke Beause Someone Ran Out fo Ideas?)
Finally, don’t stress out if you aren’t able to do the poses to the same degree as the person who is next to you. Simply ensure that you are breathing calm and steady and feeling the sensation of the poses. Remember, you should feel the sensation of the poses, but that doesn’t mean that the poses should hurt while you are doing them.
If you follow the tips listed in the article above and remain centered and focused on your body, you will be successful in your practice of yoga and before you know it, you will be ready to move from the beginner classes to the intermediate and advanced classes.
Danielle Simone Brand writes about parenting, yoga, cannabis, and pop culture. She has been a yoga teacher for more than a decade and currently teaches people of all ages across San Diego. When not writing or teaching yoga, you can find Danielle playing with her two kids and puppy.