Yoga Etiquette: 10 Tips For The Studio
Updated: Jul 17, 2020
Have you ever walked into a yoga studio and thought to yourself, "What in the world do I do now?" Practicing proper yoga etiquette can feel like a daunting task if you are attending a new studio or trying out a new class, but it doesn't have to be.
Here are 10 tips that will make your practice pleasant for you and your classmates.
Show Up On Time
Showing up late can be stressful on you and on your classmates. Be sure to arrive on time, giving yourself the minutes you need to check in, put away your items, roll out your mat, and gather any props you’ll need for class. If you have a few minutes, use that time to sit quietly and connect with your breath. Add a few neck roles or simple stretches if you need to find a little movement. And please don't pick at your toes. (I wish I was joking)
2. Find A Comfortable Place
Whether you're the first or last person walking into class, you'll need to make sure you have enough space to flow. Channel your inner Mr. Rogers and remember the "friendly neighbor" policy. If someone is struggling to find space in a packed class, take the initiative to scoot your mat or tell your row to shift over. An aware yoga teacher will most likely help with this transition, but in case their attention is on another task, please don't be afraid to make everyone feel comfortable and welcome. You'd want someone to do the same for you.
3. Minimize Conversation
As much as I enjoy attending and instructing classes with friends and family members in the room, I have to remember that it's not a social hour, it's a yoga hour. Yoga studios are supposed to be tranquil environments where students feel safe to focus on their self-study. If the studio is quiet and meditative, keep it that way by refraining from chitchat. It’s not only polite, but it’s beneficial to your own state of mind. Most yoga studios will have community areas where you can chat before and after class.
4. Shut Off Your Devices
Yoga class is a chance for you to escape the digital addictions and distractions we face in everyday life, offering you and your classmates a rare chance to be fully present. By planting your phone next to your mat, wearing your own headphones, or tapping on your fitness watch during class (and yes, even on silent!), you’re distracting yourself and those around you. I see this the most often during the final pose, savasana. Even if you struggle staying still in meditation, refrain from using your devices out of respect for everyone else in the room.
5. Can't Stay for Savasana? Leave before!
I love savasana, and chances are most of you do too. Savasana is a rare chance for you to meditate and do nothing for a few minutes. Close your eyes, focus on your breath, and feel the weight of your body against the floor. But if for some reason you absolutely have to leave class early, let your teacher know before class, position yourself close to the door, and be sure to leave before savasana begins. When it’s time to leave, pack up and scoot out as quietly as you can. No slamming doors. (TIP: If you can't stay for savasana make sure to give yourself one at home. Find a place you can lay down comfortably for 5-10 minutes, take a few deep breathes, and just let yourself be. This is an important part of any practice.)
6. Leggo Yo Ego
When you walk into the studio you are showing up for yourself and nobody else. Please instill in your mind that YOU ARE ENOUGH. You don't need to flex. You don't need to eye roll. You don't need to come with a group of friends or compare yourself to the instructor, or to anyone else for that matter. Let go of your ego (ahamkara). Be gentle and respectful in your light communication with others. Like the saying says, everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind and respect yourself and others.
7. Mindfully Modify
Taking modifications of a pose is totally fine—except when it's not, Coral Brown says. "I encourage students to find their own enhancement or modification of a pose. It's also OK to take creative yogic license, for example, to replace Upward-Facing Dog with Cobra. That does NOT mean going to Handstand or taking a seated twist while we’re in Warrior II," she explains. "It's poor etiquette—yoga is a collective and dynamic practice, and you're an individual within the collective. Your vibration and actions have an impact on the people around you, and you have to be responsible for how your energy impacts the space. It requires self discipline (tapas) to be responsible for your actions within your environment—another tool to be practiced on the mat and taken with you out into the world." I couldn't have said it better.
8. Clean Yourself
We're supposed to sweat in yoga, but just like how when you sneeze, you cover your mouth, you don’t want to spray sweat all over the room. If you plan on sweating, place a towel over your mat and use another towel for your face and hands. Most studios will have towels available to you to use or rent, but with the recent pandemic I recommend purchasing your own. Here is a link to the yoga towel I purchased and love. https://www.manduka.com/products/yogitoes Try to avoid strong scented perfumes and deodorants. Essential oils and incense can be terrific, but be mindful that other people may not enjoy the same scents you do. Once again, be kind to your neighbor by thinking about your cleanliness during class.
9. T.T.Y.T (Talk To Your Teacher)
Not all yoga instructors will ask if you have an injury, or if you may be pregnant. It's your responsibility to take care of yourself and inform your teacher on your areas of concern. Some teachers like to offer hands-on assisting too. Respectfully let them know before class begins that you would not like to be touched, or if class has already begun and you would not like to be assisted, lightly tell them "no, thank you." Most instructors want to help you feel your best and correct your alignment, but they can't help you if you don't let them know you have boundaries.
10. Clean Up Time
Cleaning up after your practice has always been important, but now it is crucial. I currently instruct at a studio that has a cleaning protocol. We deep clean the mats, blocks, blankets, and floors after every class without the participants having to stay after and do it themselves. This level of service is incredible and to your disappointment, not common. If you're borrowing props, follow the studio’s cleaning guidelines. Some studios will ask that you wipe your mats and props down with disinfectant wipes or that you bring your own props. If you bring your own props, make sure you clean up after yourself. Manduka sells a variety of washes for different types of mats and props. I love their mat wash travel spray, because it conveniently fits in my yoga bag. https://www.manduka.com/collections/yoga-mat-cleaner-spray. Ajna Wellbeing sells a variety of yoga props and mats. I have one of their meditation cushions, and I'm waiting for my bolster to come in the mail! Here is a link for a discount. (AKA a discount they gave me because I spend a lot of money on their site. LOL. ) https://www.ajnawellbeing.com/discount/ALLISON5?rfsn=4459191.754bfc
Thanks for reading tips on Yoga Etiquette. The next time you step into the studio feel ready, relaxed, and present. You deserve to feel good!
I've learned majority of these tips through my own, not so pleasant, experiences. If you haven’t found the studio or instructor that’s right for you, don't give up. I would have given up a long time ago if that were the case. If you have any questions or other concerns please message me on the HOME page. :)