My motto has always been, “Early is on time and on time is late. If you’re late, don’t even bother coming unless you have a really good excuse.” I apply this motto to all aspects of my life, especially my yoga practice. Bikram Yoga is my ultimate way to release stress from daily life. The last thing I want to do is roll into a class late and feel even more stressed out for an entire 90 minutes than when I originally walked into the studio. As part of yoga etiquette, I always plan on arriving to the studio anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes before class starts. Getting to class early means I don’t have to stress out about making it to class on time. I get first dibs on where to set up my mat and towel for class. I have plenty of time to get acclimated to the heat in the studio before class starts. I even have a little extra time to chat up the teacher before class. This last one is a bonus, especially if one of my favorite teachers is teaching the class.
I’ve practiced at studios where they’ll lock their doors and turn away late arrivers from class, encouraging them to come back for the next one. Sounds harsh, but I can understand their reasoning for a couple of reasons. First, walking into the studio while everyone else is in the middle of a deep breathing exercise is super distracting. Secondly, if you miss any of the postures in the warm up series, you risk not allowing your body enough time to fully prepare for the rest of the postures in the series, which can lead to injury. Locking the doors can also be a matter of maintaining the safety of a studio. Most studios will only have one yoga teacher on staff for either an early morning or evening class. Since there isn’t an extra staff member to watch the front door/desk while the teacher is in class, the studio gets locked for the duration of class. Did I mention how distracting it is when people walk into the studio during postures? Out of the respect for your studio and fellow yogis, plan on arriving to class on time.
I’ve practiced at studios where the arrival time is very lax, meaning I’ve seen people come into class two or three postures into the warm up series. A good studio will have teachers who motion to the latecomers at the door to either stop from entering class or wave them in, in-between postures. These latecomers are then directed by the teacher to hold off on setting up their mat and towel until “Party Time”, the first and only official water break in class. If you’re late or need to leave class at any given time, be mindful of your fellow yogis. Leave the studio quietly, in-between postures and if you must walk over someone, walk over their feet as opposed to over their head.
So what does “on time” mean for someone coming to Bikram Yoga? What is proper yoga etiquette in this type of situation? If you’re a Bikram Yoga regular, there’s no specific time you need to show up for class other than to be on your mat and ready to go by the time the teacher comes into the studio and flips on the lights. If you’re new to Bikram Yoga or new to the studio, most studios will ask newbies to show up 20 minutes prior to class starting. These extra moments allow enough time for those new to the studio or new to the practice to get registered, pay for their class, get acquainted with the studio and have plenty of time to set up. Some studios make the initial registration process even easier by allowing newbies to register online. But even if you register online, still plan on showing up 20 minutes before class if it’s your first time at the studio.