Yes, there is such a thing as etiquette in the yoga room. As a new teacher, I’ve had every one of these “rules” broken at some point during one of my classes. I’ve come into the yoga room a few times to find groups of people in loud, engaging conversations. I’ve seen and stumbled over a number of cellphones on people’s mats. I’ve had students walk into class well after we’ve started and I’ve had plenty of students leave before class ended. I’ve even had a few students linger in the studio long after class because they were deep in conversation.I can’t even begin to tell you the endless amounts of sweat puddles I’ve mopped up and the various treasures I’ve found left behind by students on the floor of the yoga room.
Each time one of these rules are broken in my class, I try to look at the situation as a learning experience for both myself and my students – the one who has broken the rule and all of the other yogis around them. Not every encounter has been a perfect learning experience, but I’ve always managed to walk away from each situation learning something from it. And to be 100% honest, I’ve broken every single one of these rules as a yogi practitioner over the years.
Rule #1: Embrace The Quiet
Talking in the yoga room is a big no-no in every studio I’ve ever practiced at or have taught a class in. The time before class starts is when people get settled into the yoga room as they transition from being in the outside world. It’s also the time for students to get acclimated to the heat. Some may even use this time to meditate. For some students, these might be the only quiet moments they have for themselves all day. Don’t be the yogi who robs someone else from these moments of peace. If you must chat with your friend, take the conversation out to the studio lobby, locker room or better yet go out to eat or have coffee with your friend after class.
I HATE having to be that teacher who comes into the yoga room and finds a group of yogis fully engaged in a loud conversation. I don’t want to be the teacher that has to tell yogis they can’t talk to each other in the yoga room, but out of respect for the other yogis around them I have to say something. When this happens, class always seems to get started on the wrong foot – the other yogis are annoyed about not having any quiet time before class, the talking yogis feel shamed and I feel like the bad guy because I had to say something. It’s a no win situation for everyone in class. Avoid putting your teacher in an uncomfortable situation by not talking in the yoga room when other yogis are present.
Rule #2: Get Unplugged
As a practitioner, I have brought my phone into the yoga room when there was no one else in there either before or after class so I could take a picture of my mat or the empty yoga room. As soon as I was done and before anyone else came into the room, I’d hightail my phone back to the locker room where it would stay for the rest of class.
I’ve seen a fair share of people texting during class. I’ve seen students watching videos on their phone and scrolling through Instagram/Facebook before class has started. I’ve also been in a class where a student in the front row, right in front of the teacher, was having a conversation on their phone after the teacher had started class. Even the teacher was in shock and didn’t know what to say. I’ve even had a student’s phone go off during class.
As a teacher, my phone is a tool in the yoga room. It’s where I play my music from. It’s where all of my playlists for class live. It’s where I keep the notes I read for a class’s intention. As a student, there’s no need to have a phone in the yoga room. Yoga is the perfect time to unplug from the outside world. Whatever it is can wait an hour. The only exception to this rule is when a student has notified me ahead of time of a special circumstance like being on-call for work or having an emergency situation outside of the studio they need to be available for at any given time. Then and only then, I ask these students to keep their phone on silent and to set up as near the door so if they have to leave early, they can do so as quietly and least disrupting as possible.
Rule #3: Be On Time
I come from the school of thought that early is on time, on time is late and if you’re late, don’t even bother showing up. Give yourself plenty of time to get to class, at least 15 to 20 minutes before class is scheduled to start. Allow yourself enough time to get to the studio to park your car and be set up and settled into the yoga room well before class starts. In several of my classes lately, it seems like there’s usually at least one person who walks into the studio right before class starts. By the time they’ve checked in for class and put their stuff in the locker room, they’re waltzing into the yoga room after class has started. What’s even worse is when the late person comes into the yoga room and sets up in the front row. It’s super disrupting and inconsiderate to the other yogis around them who were on time for class.
Many studios lock the doors right before a class starts for three reasons. One, it’s a security issue because the teacher is usually also the front desk person. Once class starts, there’s no one at the front desk. Two, late comers are disruptive to the class that’s already started. And three, in some style of classes, it’s actually unsafe to jump in late if you’ve missed the warm up.
Rule #4: Stay Til The End
Student safety is always a top priority for yoga teachers. When a student leaves class early, it’s our job to check on students to make sure they’re okay. We understand things happen, which might make it necessary for a student to leave a class early. If you need to leave class early, always give your teacher a heads up before class starts so they don’t worry about you.
Rule #5: Make It Quick
Refreshing showers feel amazing after a hot, sweaty yoga class. Keep in mind, you probably won’t be the only one heading for the showers after class either. Be mindful of the space around you and limit your shower time when other yogis are waiting. If there are a limited number of showers and a line of yogis waiting to use them, limit your shower time to no more than three minutes. Save the time-consuming showers for when you’re home and there are no other yogis waiting.
Also, most studios will allow use of the locker rooms up to 30 minutes after class has ended. Be respectful of the teacher’s time by keeping the time spent in the locker room after class to a minimum. Teachers are paid to teach yoga, not to wait for their students long after class has ended. If you think you need more than 30 minutes after class to get ready, consider moving primp time to either home or the office.
Before I became a yoga teacher, the only time I had available to practice was first thing in the morning before going to work. I’d practice yoga and then get ready for work in the locker room after class. I myself was guilty of holding up my poor teachers long after they’d finish teaching class while I got ready for work. Once I realized what I was doing, I drastically cut back on the amount of time I spent in the locker room after class. I’d do the essentials like take a quick shower, get dressed and then get out. I’d save the time-consuming activities like drying my hair and applying makeup for when I got to my office.
Rule #6: Keep It Clean
It should go without saying, but it still has to be said from time to time – clean up after yourself in every yoga class you take. If you use props during class, put them back in their proper place when you’re done using them. If you made a sweat puddle on the floor, off of your mat, clean it up before you leave the yoga room. Don’t leave it for someone else to clean up or even worse, for someone to slip on. Try leaving the space in the yoga room cleaner than when you first got to class.
The same idea goes for the locker rooms. You’re sharing the same space with a lot of other yogis. Pick up all of your belongings and trash behind you. Don’t leave it for someone else to clean up after you.
After discovering this sign recently, I couldn’t help but wonder why a sign like this wasn’t posted prominently outside of the yoga room. Why was it hiding in the hallway where most people would walk by and miss it completely? Some may read this sign and think, “Duh! This is common sense. Everyone knows this.” But what if you’ve never practiced yoga before? If someone was new to yoga, how would they ever know about etiquette in the yoga room unless someone shushed them or they received a stern look or a talking to from the yoga teacher. Signs like this one are awesome gentle reminders for all yogis – both newbies and seasoned practitioners of proper etiquette in the yoga room.