5 Rules of Etiquette For Yoga

      34 Comments on 5 Rules of Etiquette For Yoga

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A couple weeks ago I went to a class at my yoga studio and there was a girl who appeared new. Throughout class she would stop, stand or sit right on her mat, seeming unsure what to do or like she was really struggling. I felt bad, this was a tough and full class, with not as much time to help out newer students despite modifications being thrown out.

While I’m on my mat, it’s just me, my body and the space so 90% of the time I’m not paying attention or noticing what is happening on the mats around me. I remember being distracted by this girl and wishing I could call out “just go into child’s pose and wait until you’re ready!”

Fast forward to Sunday, I planned to go to the 8am heat class but I woke up feeling like someone stabbed my head with the sharpest knife in the drawer so I used everything I had to pull myself out of bed, grabbed some ibuprofen and crawled back in for another hour or so of sleep. I woke up feeling well enough to make it to the 9:45 sweet heat so after breakfast and a little coffee I made my way to the studio.

There were clearly some newer students in the room, which was fine (I could tell because of the placement of their mats) so I found a spot, rolled out my mat, and laid back to breathe for a bit before class began. There was a little chatter but nothing overly loud or obnoxious. Class started, everyone quieted down and we began.

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A minute or two in, someone walks into the room and sets up her mat next to mine. I’m trying not to be distracted and just keep breathing. She seems to be having trouble settling in but eventually does. As we begin to move and my eyes open to flow, I realize it’s the same girl from a couple weeks ago. My initial thought was “good, she wasn’t scared away by that first class!”

Well, things weren’t much different. I don’t say this to be mean, I assure you. I say all of this as a lesson and reminder for the rest of us.

We were all new once and while it’s about us on our mats and not anyone else around us, it’s important to be respectful of others and their practice, whether you’re a new or seasoned yogi, so today I share a few of my top etiquette rules of yoga that everyone should know and keep in mind from class to class.

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1. Shhh…

Before, during and after. Depending on the studio, they may ask for complete silence or they may allow a little chatter, but keep it fairly short and strictly to a whisper. People come early to start relaxing and they shouldn’t have to hear about your crazy night out. During class you should be quiet with the only person talking being the teacher. Find your space and be quiet, respecting others in the middle of their practice.

2. No electronics

I don’t care if you leave it in your shoe in the hallway, a locker or in your car, but it doesn’t need to come into the room with you.

3. Shoes off

I think this is a fairly well known rule but worth mentioning for any new yogis. Shoes stay off in the studio. Don’t worry, if you’re at a good studio, they’re cleaning the floors regularly.

4. Be on time

My studio won’t let anyone in after 5 minutes, but that doesn’t mean you should feel like it’s okay to be 1-4 minutes late. Be early, get set up and find your space. You’ll appreciate it for yourself and your fellow yogis will appreciate it too!

5. Be aware

Be aware of how your behavior may distract those around you, whether it be by the things that you do, say, or even smells (lay off the perfume before class!). While instructors will guide you through your flow, they’ll also tell you when it’s a good time to try a more advanced pose if it’s in your practice. And if it is, take it, but be careful to just break away from the rest of the group, it becomes distracting and (IMO) it’s also disrespectful to the teacher.

Are you a yogi? Am I missing any rules of etiquette?

34 thoughts on “5 Rules of Etiquette For Yoga

  1. Jenn - a traveling Wife

    I feel like all of these are just general rules for life too. Being aware of your surroundings is something people don’t practice very much anymore.
    I’ve never been to a yoga class mostly because I hate being the new person. I don’t know how to act and I despise getting all the side eyes. 🙂
    Jenn – a traveling Wife recently posted…Weekly Smoothie Fix With GreenBlenderMy Profile

  2. Mistle

    Great tips!! I have been to one yoga class and that was years ago. I of course know that arriving on time is key and being quite is also important. I am one of those people who even if I am not in a yoga class like things to be quite. I can’t stand for other people to be talking when I’m on the treadmill, it drives me insane.
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  3. Amanda DeWitt

    Oh my gosh the coming in late thing is insane at the class I go to on Saturdays. It’s a pretty laid back class which is nice BUT I felt awful coming in a couple of minutes late this past week (and then even worse when my mat kind of dropped loudly) but people KEPT coming in like 20 minutes after that. I feel like the teacher needs to put a stop to that especially since I was right by the door and the late people would stand right behind me looking for a spot and I felt like I was going to kick them or they were looking at my butt in down dog lol

    Good list! You don’t really think of these things when you’re a newbie and it can be kind of a shock to walk into a super serious class.
    Amanda DeWitt recently posted…PEANUT BUTTER + BANANA GREEN PROTEIN SHAKEMy Profile

  4. Amanda

    Such great tips/rules! I’ve always hated the chatter that sometimes happens and the teacher does nothing to stop it. Turns me off from the class.

  5. Kristen

    Such good tips! I HATED being a newbie yogi because there are so many things that I didn’t know, but I tried to just go with the flow and copy people around me. It really helped to be early to class so I could connect with the instructor and get any questions answered by them. I think the worst thing that ever happened to me in yoga class was getting kicked in the face during a really crowded class. Not a fun time.
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    1. Katie Post author

      I think that’s the best thing to do – follow those around you! Each studio is a bit different so what works at my current studio would NEVER fly at an old studio I went to.

  6. Julie

    My friend had never been to yoga and is usually JUST ON TIME to the gym workouts, so he was surprised when he couldn’t make it 5 minutes late. He has since learned to be more timely to all things.

  7. Charlotte

    Great list and so true! I used to love the moments of stillness I was able to steal before yoga, as a way to unwind after a long day…. but there was always at least one yogi unaware, chatting loudly in my space. Drove me nuts!
    Charlotte recently posted…Thoughts on 37My Profile

    1. Katie Post author

      Booo!! I try to remind myself those people probably need the yoga even more and in time will learn to respect the space and appreciate those moments for themselves too!

  8. Carrie

    Great tips! I have mostly done Yoga in the comfort of my own home but have been considering going to an actual class! So glad I have a little more insight into what a class is like.

    1. Katie Post author

      Ugh!! That’s awful! I’ve had those moments at the gym when I’m running and someone comes on a treadmill next to me and it’s like they just bathed in their perfume so I have to move machines…it’s not that easy to avoid in yoga.

  9. Rica@ Yoga Mat Monkey

    This is a great post! I once heard a debate among yogis who reserved spots for their buddies on the floor. While that seemed like an innocent gesture (a friend is running late so you hold a place for her next to you), it really infuriated the others. They were insulted and felt snubbed by the lady who wanted to be near her late friend. I can see both sides of this, but damn I hate when we take offense and lose our cool in a space that should be about connecting to the calm and gaining peace from our chaotic lives. Ya know?
    Rica@ Yoga Mat Monkey recently posted…5 Steps to a Successful Yoga Home PracticeMy Profile

    1. Katie Post author

      Oh that’s interesting. I definitely see both sides so I’m not exactly sure where I stand on that. I get it to some extent but it’s also kind of a first come-first serve space…

  10. Chantal Steele

    My gym has late night yoga classes and I can’t go unless I take my daughter. But the kids’ room closes right before yoga ends, so I have to either not go to yoga or skip out a few minutes early. I don’t want to be rude but I really want to go to class!

    1. Katie Post author

      That’s a tough one! I wonder if someone would make the suggestion to the gym to keep the kids room open an extra 15 minutes for those at yoga? If you skip out early, I think you’re hurting yourself more than you’re disrupting the others. My yoga teacher just said this morning that not allowing yourself that time in savasanna is like working for a paycheck that you never cash.

    1. Katie

      It depends on the yoga class! I take yoga sculpt and the music is loud and people are generally chatting before class. I do think you need to be aware of your surroundings. As for modifications…I take them all the time. I’m rebuilding strength and there are some things I just cannot do yet.

    2. Katie Post author

      You just need to find the right studio, they’re all a bit different. OR maybe you just need to practice at home. 😉

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