Yoga Class Etiquette
Tips to help you not stand out in class
The following is my spin on yoga class etiquette. The underlying principle of yoga etiquette is respect. Respect is the basis of good behavior in virtually any group activity you could think of. If you keep that word in mind most blunders can be avoided. Respect yourself. Respect others. In most cases everything will fall into place. But this is a blog and I can't just leave it at that. Let's talk about some particulars.
Here's an idea that very fundamental to yoga and also to self-respect: cleanliness. When you show up for yoga class have a clean body and wear clean clothes. If you're crunchy and don't use deodorant out of principle at least take a shower before class. Along the same line, don't go overboard on the perfume or cologne. It gets hard enough to breathe in a hot and stuffy studio without somebody flooding the place with Axe body spray.
In a similar vein, consider your attire. I'm all about comfort but let's make sure we keep everything in its proper place. There's a good reason why shorts that are specifically made for yoga are really long and look like board shorts. That's a hint. I don't care how crazy the pose is; nobody should see your private parts during class.
Respect the studio: don't wear shoes on the floor. Respect your practice: don't wear socks on your mat (unless you want to become a human luge; you'll slip!).
Now in this next one I'm really speaking for myself as a teacher. Other teachers have different expectations. I don't get irked about people walking in late. I try to follow the adage "flexible people don't get bent out of shape." Everybody's busy. Life can be hectic. Lateness happens. All I ask is that, when you do come late, try not to disrupt the class too much (there's respect again) and try not to be so late that you can't get warmed-up before diving into the deeper poses.
What should you, as a practitioner, do if somebody walks in after class has started? No, don't give them a dirty look. Move over! Make room for them! Remember, you don't own any real estate on that floor.
Clean up your sweat. Put away your toys. When you vacate your spot on the floor try to leave it better than you found it. That means you should mop up with your towel and put those blocks and straps back where they came from. It's good manners.
Be tolerant. Yoga's not football but if your neighbor falls out of headstand he can take you out just the same. Remember, if somebody crashes into you, IT'S AN ACCIDENT. It's not fun for them either and they're probably embarrassed so don't make things worse by getting mad. This is your chance to show the class how equanimous you are.
I only have a couple more items. Mats. The studio has mats that you can use AS A COURTESY. The loaner mats are for occasional use when you forget to bring yours or your dog eats it or some other emergency occurs. Buy a mat. Trust me, it's more hygienic to roll around in your own sweat vice some stranger's times fifty.
Flirting during class. Some guys have figured out by now that the male-female ratio in your typical yoga class is much in their favor. Guys, I know you think you've hit paydirt but please save the pick-up lines for the bars or, at least, until after class. Flirting with the person on the mat next door during class is distracting to others and it's unethical for the following reason: she's trapped. She's stuck next to you in a yoga class and likely feels compelled to be nice because of the setting. At least after class she has a chance to make a mad dash for her car or send you packing with your mat.
If I didn't close by saying that the vast majority of people in my classes treat one and other with great courtesy I would be remiss. Some of us just need a reminder that they're not in it alone. Please respect one another in and out of class and remember that we are all feeling our way on our own path toward a common goal.
Bonnie Saldivar Jones