Yoga Etiquette: Instructors’ Best Tips

Achieve Zen with these yoga manners lessons.

yoga mats

yoga mats image via shutterstock

Yoga may be an internal practice, but it’s also rife with opportunities to get externally annoying. We’ve all seen the girl hitting every innocent bystander on the T with her yoga mat, or the guy getting way too close to his neighbor in warrior one pose. In order to prevent being that person (again), we asked four Boston yoga instructors for their help. Below, we outline yoga etiquette tips that can be applied both in class and in life.

Joanna Benevides, manager at North End Yoga

Keep it clean. “Personal hygiene is a must, for yourself and your yoga materials,” she says, stressing the importance of wiping down your mat and the surrounding area, if necessary, after class.

Be spatially aware. Benevides says good yogis will move over to make sure everyone fits and avoid stepping on others’ mats, no matter how crowded the class gets.

Stay the whole length of class. And if you absolutely must leave early, at least do it in a way that’s not disruptive. “If you have to leave early, leave before savasana [the final resting pose],” Benevides recommends.

Jill Koontz, co-owner of Bikram Yoga Boston

Eliminate distractions. Koontz says to avoid coming to class chewing gum or wearing watches, gadgets, or ill-fitting clothes. “You are alone on your mat [but also] in a room with several others who are trying to concentrate and meditate,” she says. “Try hard not to become a distraction for anyone else.”

Consider storing your mat. At Bikram Yoga Boston, Koontz says, members are provided with free mats. Even if your studio doesn’t offer such perks, think about keeping your mat there to avoid the dreaded rush-hour-with-a-yoga-mat scenario.

Go with the flow, even if you’re struggling. “Letting go and trusting the process are important in any mindfulness activity. There will be a time for questions later; for the length of your class just go with it,” she says. “Keep it in perspective and call on your sense of humor when necessary.”

Jessica Molleur, owner of OMBE

Don’t be late. “Part of yoga is learning to respect your body and other students around you,” she says. “One of our instructors often tells her students how it is important to show up for yourself by arriving to class on time.”

Invest in carrying equipment for your mat. Molleur recommends straps and bags from eKO Lite to make on-the-go mat carrying easier and less annoying for those sharing the sidewalk (and coveted rush hour spots on the T).

Be open to anything. “Plan on coming to class with an open mind,” Molleur says. “Just like with any new form of exercise, yoga will push your body and mind in unexpected ways.”

Glen Cunningham, co-owner of Sadhana Yoga

Choose your mat wisely. “Keep your big mat at home for your home practice, and bring your smaller foldable mat with you for when you take class,” he suggests. “Maybe rent a studio mat for more padding and put your thinner mat on top.”

Don’t try to impress people. “When you come to a yoga studio, your focus in on mindfulness, not on catering to the ego,” he says, “so just be a good citizen and enjoy the community and your place within it. Nothing more, nothing less.”

Keep it about you. The one thing students should never do, Cunningham says, is compare themselves to others. “Remember,” he says, “this is not a competition.”