If you’re thinking about starting yoga: woohoo! It will prove to be a very rewarding decision for your well-being! But if you’ve never stepped foot inside a yoga studio before, you may be a little apprehensive about what to do and what not to do so you don’t stick out like a total newbie.
These 7 Etiquette Basics that follow should squash any hesitation about being the new kid in class.
Yoga Gear Only Inside the Studio
Outside shoes, phones, keys, purses/totes, anything and everything that is not part of your yoga practice can stay in the lobby area of the studio. Your mat is truly the only essential item you need to bring into the studio with you. And we even have mats you can use if you’ve not picked one of your own yet.
Like most things, there is some flexibility in defining “yoga gear”. Water bottles are always welcomed as long as they’re sealed (no topless bottles). And a towel for a hot yoga session is advisable. Some people get comfortably cool in meditation or yoga nidra, so if you need a light wrap and socks, that’s perfectly fine. (The studio has spare blankets in case you forget this.)
Otherwise? Leave it in your car or the lobby.
New to the Studio? Introduce Yourself to Your Teacher
Nothing in depth, just a “hi, I’m Jane” will suffice. If you have an injury, do make a mention of it to your instructor. They can suggest pose modifications or alternatives to avoid aggravating your problem area for the class.
Check Out Your Teacher’s Mat
If you ever wonder what props you’ll need for class, all you need to do is check out your teacher’s mat at the front of the room. They’ll have whatever you’ll need for the day’s session - mat (always), blocks, strap, blanket(s), bolster(s), maybe even a tennis ball or meditation cushion. Simply grab the matching props from the shelves and settle in for a great class.
Don’t Worry What the Person Next to You is Doing
Please, keep your eyes on the instructor and your mat. Those are the only two things on which to focus. I promise...no one is watching you critiquing how your poses look. Don’t be *that* person in class. Your time on your mat is just that: YOURS. Use your time wisely.
Save Your Questions for Later...Usually
Most teachers expect to be the only voice heard during their class; most students expect it to work that way, too. If you have a question about the pose or how to breathe during it, chances are the instructor is already aware of this and will assist you with subtle cues while continuing the class.
If I see a panicked face of a student who has no clue what a Pigeon pose is, not only am I demonstrating it to the class, but I’m likely doing so right in front of the student needing the assistance. I tend to roam the studio as I teach, so there’s never an embarrassing moment for the person unsure of what to do next.
I also teach a beginners’ series in which I encourage students to ask questions during class. Often there’s a mix of experience levels in the class, so questions can help establish good form from the outset for new yogis while deepening knowledge of poses for more experienced yogis. I find it’s a great way to foster community within the studio.
All teachers and all classes are different. As you find classes that fit your needs, you’ll quickly see how quiet or talkative the class will be. When in doubt? Silence is golden.
Wrapping Up and Getting Out the Door
After Savasana wraps and the teacher has closed class, you do not have to leap up from your mat and make a mad dash out the door. That kind of defeats what we just accomplished during the class! Instead, mindfully get up off your mat when you’re ready, wipe down your mat, return props to their storage location, roll up your mat, and collect your belongings as you leave the studio.
Some teachers are available for a quick question after class, but often outgoing classes cross paths with incoming classes. While a little chat is fine, be mindful of the instructor’s and studio’s time.
The Single Most Important Thing
Most cultures and philosophies have a version of the maxim of treating others as oneself would wish to be treated. This applies to your yoga practice as well. If you think something would be disruptive to YOUR practice, chances are others feel the same way; if you think something would be beneficial to your practice, again others likely feel the same way.
When in doubt, practice The Pause, consider your options, and proceed in a gentle fashion.
Is there something else you could add to this cursory overview of yoga etiquette? Leave your thoughts below!
Gaer Ferrinson teaches hatha yoga and meditation at Soul Feet Studios in Stephenville, TX. You can find her class schedule on her website, www.TheTransitionalDoula.com, and on the studio’s, www.SoulFeetStudios.com.