Understanding basic yoga class etiquette will help you feel more comfortable during your practice. Most of the following tips are simple common sense and courtesy, but there are certain manners that are specific to yoga classes and studios. Practicing silence, self-awareness, and respect to the teacher and other students will help to ensure that your yoga experience will be beneficial and stress-free.
1. Remove Your Shoes
Many studios will have space near the door or entranceway to leave your shoes. Do not put shoes on your yoga mat. Yoga is practiced in bare feet, so take off your socks, too.
2. Turn Off Your Cell Phone
Or simply don’t bring it into the room! Of course, if you’re in a setting with lots of foot traffic or if theft is an issue, you may carry it (along with your wallet and other valuables) into the studio. But turn it off. Not to vibrate… off!
3. Arrive 5-10 Minutes Early
This allows plenty of time to settle in, get centered, and prepare for practice. Unroll your mat quietly, so as not to disturb students who are already there. Check in with your mood and begin to let go of outside thoughts and concerns. Lie quietly, or do some gentle warm-up poses.
Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter which fork you use.
4. Don’t Skip Savasana
The final relaxation pose, called Corpse Pose — "Savasana" (shah-VAHS-uh-nuh) in Sanskrit — is vital to your practice. It’s a time for stillness and deep rest that lets your body fully receive the benefits of yoga. If you absolutely must leave early, let your teacher know prior to class and leave quietly before Savasana starts. Be sure to allow sufficient time to collect your mat and belongings.
5. Respect the Teacher’s Sequencing
Don’t do your own routine. Let your teacher know about any injuries or conditions (such as pregnancy) that might affect your practice. Your instructor will provide you with appropriate modifications. Otherwise, do not add to or skip poses in the sequence. Do not protest or argue with the teacher about a pose. Trust the process.
6. Don’t Try to Impress Anyone
Yoga is not a competition. There aren’t any prizes for poses. Your practice will be different every single day. If you reach the full expression of a pose, acknowledge it to yourself, but do not seek rewards for your effort. Attain what you can during your practice, then let it go.
7. Put Your Props Away After Class
If you’ve used blocks or straps, place them back the way you found them. Fold your blanket; don’t just drop it in a heap. If you borrowed a mat from the studio, wipe it down before replacing it. Better yet, bring your own mat!
8. Respect the Space
Practicing yoga in a group setting creates a sacred, safe zone. Observe silence before, during, and after practice. Allow room for other students to come in. Refrain from unnecessary talking, grunts, and moans. Do not chew gum — it’s distracting and unsafe. Never adjust the lights, fans, windows, or thermostat without permission.
9. Practice Cleanliness
Apply the yogic principle of saucha, which means "cleanliness" or "purity." Personal hygiene is an integral part of practicing yoga. Ensure that you and your mat are clean before practice. Further, avoid heavy fragrances.
10. Honor Your Limits
For your safety, as well as respect for the teacher and other students, do not go to a class that is beyond your current level. Work from where you are, not where you think you should be. Never force to hold or attain a pose. Ask for modifications and practice your moves with control. Remember, it’s not a race.
Keep It Simple
Studios, gyms, and retreat centers may have additional regulations regarding the yoga practice space. Be sure to check in with the front desk when you arrive and be friendly with the receptionist. More often than not, they’ll be the first face you see when you arrive. Remember that everyone is human (even yoga teachers!). Everybody makes mistakes sometimes. Learning from experience is just part of the process of yoga! Do the best you can and your yoga practice will reward you in many ways.