When I was a young girl I loved to read etiquette books. Really. I remember reading once that the purpose of etiquette is not to make judgements about people or make them feel uncomfortable, but rather to provide a set of guidelines so that people know how to conduct themselves in any situation so that they can feel comfortable and confident. What does this have to do with yoga? Well, remember the first time you walked into a yoga studio? I bet you had a lot of uncertainties... Am I wearing the right clothes? Why is everyone so quiet? Where do I put my stuff? What equipment do I need? What if I can’t do the poses?
All this uncertainty probably made you feel uncomfortable and nervous, which is exactly the opposite of how I want people to feel when they come to The Yoga Room. So I'd like to share some thoughts about the etiquette of yoga, so that both new and experienced yogis will feel confident and completely at ease at The Yoga Room or any other studio they may visit.
Arrival & Departure Time
Plan to arrive 10-15 minutes before your class begins. This gives you enough time to put away your personal belongings, find a spot for your mat, collect any props you may want or need for class, fill out paperwork (if you're new to the studio) and pay for a class pass if you need to.
If you arrive a few minutes late due to an unforeseen circumstance, ask the desk staff if you’re too late to join the class. If you’re just a couple of minutes late you may still be able to join (enter quietly to minimize disruption as much as possible), but if you’re more than a couple of minutes late, you may not be let in because walking in late creates a distraction for both the students and the teacher.
Stay in the room until the end of final relaxation. People come to yoga to relax, and if you get up and leave in the middle of practice it causes disruption to the flow of class and stress for the teacher and students. If you feel that you need a break, you can certainly do a relaxation pose at any time. You can sit or lay down, or rest in child’s pose or on all fours.
If you must leave the room to go to the restroom, try to exit and re-enter quietly to minimize disruption.
Occasionally a situation may arise where you'll need to leave class early. Maybe you are a health professional and you're on call or maybe you have an unforeseen emergency. In any case, quietly communicate the situation to the teacher and exit with minimal disruption. Leave your props in place and the teacher will take care of them later.
When you come into our lobby, remove your shoes and place them on the shoe shelf. We don’t wear shoes in the studios for a number of reasons: so that we can exercise the muscles in our feet and so that the floor stays as clean as possible. Since we sit and lay on the floor, it's especially important to keep it free of mud, dirt, and other debris that may have stuck to the soles of your shoes.
Personal belongings such as jackets, purses, wallets, glasses, etc., may be placed in the cubbies in your class’s studio.
Unless you are a health professional who is on call or a new mom leaving her baby with a sitter for the first time or you have some other potential emergency situation, leave your cell phone in your car, or make sure it is turned off or switched to airplane mode. When a phone rings or vibrates during class, it is disruptive to the teacher and the students, and embarrassing to the phone's owner who has to stop their practice to silence it.
We explore the body's range of motion in every yoga class, so it's good to wear modest clothes that can move with you. Yoga or athletic pants, capris, and long or medium length shorts, paired with a t-shirt or tank top are appropriate.
A special note about yoga pants and tights: Many styles of tights are in fashion right now, and it's a good idea to know the differences between yoga pants and tights. Tights thinner and are are designed to be worn with a long top or a short dress because they become sheer when stretched. Thinner yoga pants can also become sheer when they are stretched.
A good test to check the opacity of your pants is to stretch them over your outstretched hand. If you can clearly see your hand through the pants, during your yoga practice those pants will likely reveal parts of your anatomy that you typically would want to keep private.
Chewing Gum during yoga practice disrupts your breathing and creates distraction from your practice. It's a good idea to discard your gum in the waste bin before practice.
Perfumes and Body Odor
Many people are sensitive or allergic to perfumes, colognes, and scented lotions. Out of respect for your fellow practitioners (and your teacher) who will be breathing consciously, intentionally, and deeply, near you, for an hour, please arrive at the studio clean and free of body odor and refrain from wearing any scents. Even if you think your perfume smells mild and nice, it can still be offensive to others who have a sensitive sense of smell.
If you are a smoker, please refrain from smoking for a few hours before attending yoga practice.
Respect for Others
People who attend classes in a yoga studio often consider it as a place to get away from the stresses in their lives and to practice quiet relaxation. In the time before your class begins, arrange your space quietly, speak in a quiet tone, and be respectful of your fellow practitioners’ space.
Yogis often regard their yoga mat as a sacred space for practice and relaxation. Do not step on another person's mat, especially if you are wearing shoes. We lay our faces and bodies on our mats, so we want to make sure to keep them clean.
Practice silence during class. Silence encourages mindfulness and awareness, which are important tools in one's yoga practice. Sometimes the teacher will pose a hypothetical question during class in an effort to help the students tune into sensations in the body. Answer these questions silently in your mind.
Sometimes the teacher will ask a direct question in order to gain feedback or encourage sharing about a particular pose or situation. In this case it is perfectly fine to respond. In some situations, excessive talking during class can be a distraction for the teacher, who is working to lead a cohesive, beneficial, safe, and serene practice for all the practitioners.
Please keep in mind that these are not hard and fast rules, but rather guidelines to consider when deciding how little or how much is appropriate to share during the yoga practice.
Yoga Props and Equipment
The Yoga Room provides bolsters, blankets, straps, blocks, sand bags, eye pillows, and other props for everyone to use. We also have mats available for rent.
We clean all the props on a regular schedule. We appreciate when you take a minute to neatly fold your blanket and put your props back on the shelves as you found them.
If you borrow a rental mat, we appreciate when you take a minute after practice to sanitize the mat with the provided mat spray and towel. After you give the mat a minute to dry, please roll it up and replace it in the basket. If another class is coming in, please bring the mat to the lobby staff so that they can finish taking care of the mat.
Sometimes people ask at what age it is appropriate to bring children who are interested in yoga to a yoga class. The answer is that it depends on the child.
Given that the yoga studio is a place of calm and relaxation, it is important that all participants, children included, are able to focus and follow instructions for the hour-long class. It is important that no one cause distraction to anyone else. If children at interested in attending a yoga class, they should be able to follow all the etiquette guidelines described here.
It is not appropriate to bring children to the studio and have them wait in the lobby while you attend class. The lobby staff have many responsibilities to attend to during class times and cannot entertain or supervise children. We do not provide childcare and we cannot be held responsible for children left in the lobby.
The staff at The Yoga Room places a high priority on maintaining a space where everyone feels comfortable, welcome, nurtured, and respected in their life practice and their yoga practice. With yoga we learn to respect ourselves and others. The etiquette of yoga verbalizes the details of that respect. We thank you for helping uphold our mission of respect for ourselves and others and we thank you so much for being a part of our studio!
If you have any questions about any part of this post, or anything related to the etiquette of yoga, please feel free to post a comment on our blog or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to seeing you soon!