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The Guide to Yoga Etiquette: 13 Tips to Follow

yoga studio etiquette

Whether you’re going to your first class, or you’re a seasoned yogi, it is vital to understand what yoga etiquette consists of so you know how to behave respectfully.

We will cover: 

Going to your first yoga class can be pretty daunting when you don’t know what to expect or what equipment you need, but our tips will help you get started on the best possible footing, and answer the question of “what is yoga etiquette?”.

If you’re looking to take your yoga enthusiasm further, a Level 3 diploma in yoga provides everything you need to become a fully certified yoga instructor, as well as giving you the confidence to explore new avenues of the practice.

What Is Yoga Etiquette?

Yoga etiquette

First, you may be wondering what exactly yoga etiquette is if you’re completely new to the practice. 

The definition of etiquette, in any instance, is the code of polite behavior in a particular setting or environment. 

This set of rules will change in different settings, but the idea of having rules for particular places is the idea of etiquette holistically. 

When it comes to yoga, there certainly is an etiquette that you should be aware of, which naturally involves different aspects to other forms of fitness, like gym etiquette.

yoga studio rules and etiquette

If you’re completely new to yoga practice, though, you may be uncertain of how you can make the best first impression, and with this guide, we’ll outline everything you should be aware of.

One solid piece of advice to take away, though, is that it’s always a good idea to ‘go with the flow’ when attending your first yoga class. 

You should follow the lead of other classmates, especially if you’re aware of who the other beginners are, and listen closely to any and all instructions.

But how can you maximise your experience, and get the most out of your practice? Let’s explore some specific tips on yoga etiquette.

13 Tips on Yoga Etiquette

For the most part, yoga classes are a place of no-judgement and a setting that assists in your growth mentally, physically and overall as a person. 

But you should still take every precaution to be as mindful and aware of others as possible, as well as your surroundings, and the practice you’re undertaking. 

Here are our top tips when it comes to the etiquette of yoga.

#1 - Avoid Being Loud

Yoga studio etiquette

Yoga etiquette for beginners, intermediate or advanced practitioners is often quite similar, and one of the most important tips is to stay quiet. 

This is one of the most simple fundamentals of yoga, and by dishonoring this rule you are potentially disturbing the energy (or “prana”) of the class. 

While yoga classes are perfect for meeting those with similar interests as yourself, you should assign time for socialising, before or after class. We’d recommend chatting afterwards, since you should be relaxing and preparing your body for the class ahead. 

There is a time and a place for socialising, and in between asanas during your class certainly isn’t one. 

The purpose of yoga practice is to calm the mind and to essentially, clear the mind - this simply isn’t possible when you’re either talking, or can hear others. 

Therefore, it is simply easier and more respectful to all classmates and the instructor to save conversation for after class, or before class if you’re earlier than usual. 

#2 - Shower Before Class

Yoga class etiquette

As we’ve already mentioned, yoga practice is all about relaxation, and part of that is making the environment as pleasant as possible for yourself and those around you.

We’d therefore encourage all class participants to wash before class, and ensure that there’s no lingering odours from a tough gym session or workout, like cross training or HIIT.

It’s understandable that sometimes this could be a mistake. Perhaps you’ve just finished your workout and decide to slip into the gym yoga class to wind down before you head home. 

As convenient as it would be to do so, it is likely that you’re smelling a little more than usual, since you have just worked out.

the right yoga etiquette

So, simply hit the gym showers before slipping into class, or spray on some deodorant. We all know how distracting a bad smell can be, and especially in such a focused practice, it can disrupt those around you.

Also, showering before class also means that if you use studio-owned equipment, such as mats or blocks, you’re clean beforehand. 

Although you should always clean your equipment afterward, you should also arrive to class clean, and treat any equipment with respect.

#3 - Leave Your Phone Out Of Class

Yoga etiquette for beginners

As tempting as it can be to check your phone during a quiet time, this should not be something that factors into your session. 

As you’re in a yoga class to disconnect from reality for an hour or so, the last thing you need is a ringtone or notification breaking the silence of relaxation. 

Depending on how you get to your class, we understand that leaving your phone out of the class is sometimes easier for others. 

For example, if you drive to class, why not leave it in a safe place in your car? Or, if your class is in the gym, keep it safe in your locker.

If none of these are plausible, which they may not be at smaller studios or if you walk to class, then simply turn your phone off and place it into your bag. 

yoga etiquette and rules

You can then set your bag at the back of the studio or on a hook if your studio provides these, ensuring it’s out of reach, and so the temptation to check it is much less.

Ultimately, a big part of yoga studio etiquette is about having minimal distractions, so if you must take your phone simply ensure it is turned off and away from you for the duration of the class. 

If you’re worried about people getting in touch, tell those who may get in touch that you won't be contactable between the hours of class. 

You should use this rule as something quite motivating, rather than a hindrance to practicing yoga, especially as technology plays a huge role in many areas of our lives. 

Dedicating yourself to some yoga practice everyday or however many times you practice a week provides you with the opportunity to steer away from the screen.

#4 - Be Punctual

Hot yoga etiquette

Being punctual in any pursuit is important, but when it comes to yoga etiquette and pet peeves, it takes on a much greater level of significance.

The energy in your yoga class can be easily disturbed, and if you miss the start of your class, you run the risk of disrupting and disturbing the flow of the class.

Being punctual is important, but we’d recommend arriving early to ensure you’ve got adequate time to set yourself up for the session. 

Depending on the type of yoga style you’re heading to, it can take some time to set up what you will need, so plan accordingly.

etiquette for yoga studios

For example, if you’re on your way to a more advanced class (like yin yoga), it's likely you’re going to not only need a mat, but a yoga block, some straps and maybe even a yoga pillow. 

With all that equipment, be sure to leave yourself enough time to get set up effectively. For instance, if your class starts at 5pm, turn up at least around 4:50pm, giving you plenty of time to place your equipment.

This early start also gives you time to fully stretch, and find a comfortable place in the studio where you can get the most out of your yoga. 

 

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#5 - Don’t Enter With Shoes On

Yoga etiquette pet peeves

There are various reasons as to why wearing shoes in class is bad yoga etiquette for both teachers and students. 

Firstly, there’s the obvious reason that your shoes are likely to be quite dirty, and since a vast majority of yoga practice is performed on the ground, this isn’t ideal.

As we’ve just touched on, you should aim to be as hygienic as you can when you’re practicing yoga, especially as you’ll be in close proximity to others.

This is particularly important if you’re borrowing a mat. Yoga mats are not designed to withstand the force of trainers - it's likely you’re going to mark, wear down or even damage the mat if you proceed with shoes so really try to avoid this.

etiquette for yoga classes

Hygiene aside, the act of yoga itself is much more difficult in shoes than in your bare feet. Your grip when barefoot is much more effective, and helps to improve your balance in poses. 

So though your shoes may be perfect for your next run, they’re not designed to help you in an intricate practice such as yoga. 

Moreover, from a yoga studio etiquette stand point, your transition into poses when wearing shoes is likely to be a lot louder than it would be in your bare feet, which can disrupt the tranquil atmosphere of a yoga session.

#6 - Wear Appropriate Clothing

Yoga studio etiquette for the beginner

It should go without saying, but wearing appropriate clothing is basic yoga studio etiquette for both the beginner and the seasoned class goer. 

Specific clothing designed for yoga is always a safe bet for this. You can find yoga tops and leggings from a wide variety of retailers, and they’ll be designed specifically for your comfort during class. 

Whether it’s regular or hot yoga, your etiquette when it comes to the clothes you wear should be well considered, and suited to the yoga discipline you’ve chosen.

rules of yoga

For instance, you may want to wear looser-fitting clothing for intensive disciplines like power yoga, and more comfortable garments for slower, more focused movements and meditating.

Similarly, loose tops may be comfortable for the likes of yin yoga, but when it comes to Ashtanga or any style that may see you performing downward dog or headstands, loose tops probably aren't the best idea. 

Ultimately, you are more likely to feel comfortable and not unintentionally reveal anything if you wear hugging yet comfortable yoga leggings, and vest tops.

#7 - Clean Up After Yourself

Beginner yoga list etiquette

If you’re seeking out yoga etiquette for beginners, there is a chance that you’re heading to your first ever class, and you may underestimate how difficult it can be. 

With any kind of yoga practice, and particularly more intense forms of yoga, you’ll likely find it quite intensive, and therefore you may sweat.

Whether you’re using your own mat or borrowing one from the studio, it is pretty easy to slip some antibacterial wipes into your bag. 

This takes on an even greater importance if you’re planning on borrowing equipment, especially mats, pillows or cushions.

You should ensure that you wipe down any equipment you’ve borrowed after your session, and leave it out to dry if necessary in the designated space. 

Typically, yoga classes will also allow the borrowing of towels, too. If this is the case, there’ll likely be a washing basket or place to store any used towels.

Always ensure that you don’t put the towel with the clean ones, and make every effort to put everything back to its original place if you’ve borrowed any equipment. 

As a general rule, you should always check that you have:

  • Taken your water bottle
  • Put your yoga towel in the washing basket 
  • Returned all used equipment that doesn’t require cleaning
  • Cleaned up any sweat marks on the gym floor
  • Left the yoga studio as you found it

Scanning over your area before you leave is easy, and should be yoga etiquette 101 for both newbies and experts alike.

#8 - Do Not Judge Others

Etiquette of yoga teacher and student

One thing that should always be at the top of a beginner yoga list for etiquette (and even for those more experienced) is to avoid any judgment, particularly of those who are new to the practice. 

Yoga is very difficult, and feeling nervous before a class is totally expected. It can be an intimidating environment at first, especially if you’re unsure of how to get started.

With any class, you should aim to make new classmates feel as comfortable as possible, particularly if you can tell they have first class nerves.

Invite them to join you during the meditative sections of your practice, so they can feel more welcomed, especially if they’re not familiar with key aspects like pranayama or specific asanas.

For the most part, everyone will be able to do this without trying, but just to ensure that your class stays as a place of positivity and growth, be the person that makes newcomers feel right at home.

#9 - Don’t Take Up Too Much Space

Yoga studio rules and etiquette

Yoga studio rules and etiquette are all about respecting other class members and the instructor, and taking up an unnecessary amount of space goes directly against that.

This is especially important if you go to a popular class that's always fully booked, or a studio with limited floor space. 

If you get there early, avoid placing your mat and belongings in an awkward place that takes up more room than you need, as this allows more organisation when other members filter in.

the rules of yoga

To avoid this, you should only bring to class what is completely necessary, and if you do have more things than usual, place these at the back of the class rather than next to your mat. 

Putting your gym bag or belongings next to your mat will make the space feel more cramped than it is which nobody wants.

Not only that, but by taking up unnecessary space, you’re making it difficult for your instructor to get around to classmates when correcting their posture, which is an incredibly important aspect of their role.

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For more useful resources on yoga practice in preparation for your class, head to our articles below:

#10 - Leave Before Savasana if Necessary 

Yoga etiquette for teachers

If you’re new to yoga, Savasana may be a concept you’re unfamiliar with, but it’s absolutely vital to understand its importance ahead of a class. 

Savasana is a Sanskrit word, and links closely to the restorative asana (pose). This traditionally comes at the end of almost every yoga session, and is a highly valued and important stage.

It is simply the relaxation stage after the main sequence of poses. Often, this is the corpse pose, accompanied by positive affirmation and calming sounds.

etiquette for yoga savasana

Naturally, then, it’s best that this part of your yoga practice is left undisturbed and as quiet and calm as possible.

We understand that sometimes you may have to leave a little early, while still not missing out totally on your yoga session.

For the etiquette of yoga teacher and student, we would strongly advise leaving before savasana, and letting your instructor know beforehand. 

It means that you will avoid any distraction to others, and it’s a great way to practice good yoga etiquette in the studio.

#11 - Respect Your Instructor

Yoga students studio etiquette

Of course, while we’ve predominantly covered yoga studio etiquette, it’s equally important to have that same understanding when it comes to your instructor.

It should go without saying that respect in any setting is general etiquette, but within a yoga setting it is important that you respect their knowledge and direction. 

In other words, avoid looking as though you know better, or that you don’t have an interest in the teacher’s way of instructing. 

For example, doing poses that are not being taught completely disregards the teacher, the practice, and ultimately shows disrespect to the storied history of yoga.

yoga etiquette savasana

This can also potentially be distracting for others, too, especially if your disregard for the teacher is interrupting their instruction.

For instance, if a student is standing close to the front of the class, and is deliberately ignoring the guidance of the instructor, they can affect the students behind them, too. 

This not only distracts classmates, but your instructor too. There is very little reason not to take instruction from the teacher, so follow attentively, and your experience as well as others will be much more relaxing.

#12 - Take Constructive Advice Respectfully

Yoga student studio etiquette

In a yoga class, it’s natural that, from time to time, you’ll be corrected on your form, movements, or poses.

For many, this is one of the beauties of yoga practice - it’s something that ensures you progress over time, and part of the reason why yoga instructors are so knowledgeable in what they do.

With this in mind, one of the main etiquette rules for a yoga teacher is to ensure the clients are at the forefront of their mind, with their progress being of the utmost importance. 

Therefore, as a student, you need to be prepared to be corrected and take this with appreciation, rather than defensively or in an accusatory way.

The only way we learn as students is to take advice, especially in a hands-on way. In a yoga class, if you’re clearly struggling with a pose, the instructor in some styles will help you get into the correct pose, or give you an easier variation. 

So, don’t feel embarrassed about receiving help. It’s the best way to see you excel in your yoga practice week on week.

#13 - Thank Your Instructor 

Yoga students studio etiquette

At the end of your class, yoga students with studio etiquette will thank the instructor for their time and show gratitude. 

This doesn’t have to be over the top or take up time if you’re in a rush - it can be as simple as a bow, a wave and just saying thank you on your way out.

If you feel as though the yoga class was exceptional, and the teacher went above and beyond your expectations, you should always let them know.

While you shouldn’t feel obligated to say how the class made you feel, your instructor would greatly appreciate it, and you may even give other classmates the courage to do the same.

It can be a simple thank you or positive feedback that can make all the difference. Even picking out a key element of the class, like the specific yoga playlist the instructor chose, or the introduction of new poses, can go a long way. 

This is a great way to show yoga etiquette for the teacher's benefit, as well as your own, particularly if you pick out part of the class you really enjoyed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Need To Be Experienced In Yoga Before I Take A Class?

yoga class rules

Absolutely not! You shouldn’t feel as though you need to be experienced in yoga before taking a class, especially if it’s a particularly gentle form of yoga, like vinyasa.

If you’re new to the practice, you’re doing the right thing by researching yoga etiquette for beginners before heading off, but you shouldn’t be worried about your experience level. 

Instructors will be trained to tailor their sessions to the experience levels of those in the class, and can adapt asanas to ensure that everyone can get involved.

It’s important that you try your best to conquer any fears or worries about attending a yoga class, and take that first step. 

We’d suggest looking for a beginner’s yoga class near you, if you’re still uncertain. A quick Google search returns a wide range of results that cater to both experienced and new yogis:

yoga studio etiquette

Regardless of your experience level with yoga, as long as you’ve got a good grasp of yoga studio etiquette, you’ll be able to get the most out of any class you attend.

What Should I Bring To My First Yoga Class?

yoga etiquette bag

As we mentioned earlier in our section on what proper yoga etiquette consists of, bringing the correct equipment, or borrowing and cleaning anything you can’t bring with you, is incredibly important. 

Without the right kit, you run the risk of reducing the impact a good yoga class can have, and upsetting the delicate balance of yoga studio etiquette.

With that in mind, we’ve put together a short yoga bag checklist for your next class:

  • Yoga mat (can usually be borrowed)
  • Yoga block (can usually be borrowed)
  • Mat cleaner (can usually be borrowed)
  • Water bottle 
  • Yoga straps (can usually be borrowed)
  • Yoga towel

If you forget something that is completely necessary, (such as a yoga mat), your instructor will usually be able to provide one, but as we’ve already touched on with our guide to yoga etiquette, it’s important to clean this thoroughly before handing it back.

We’d also suggest asking about the equipment you’ll need to bring with you when you book the class, especially as some classes may be more intensive, and therefore you might want to bring other equipment (like a bottle of water, and a towel).

Before You Go!

By now, you should be more than prepared for your next yoga class and if you’re a beginner, you will be well aware of all of the do’s and don'ts when it comes to the correct yoga studio etiquette.

If you’re already familiar with the right yoga etiquette for teachers and students, then consider taking that passion a step further with OriGym’s Level 3 yoga instructor course, one of very few yoga courses in the UK accredited by Ofqual.

Written by Kimberley Mitchell

Editor

Having gained a B.A Hons degree in Media, Culture and Communications, Kimberley has gained experience in areas of web journalism, website production and marketing.

Alongside this, Kim expanded her knowledge and passion for fitness, by becoming a fully qualified fitness instructuor and personal trainer. Kim has also gained specialist qualifications in yoga, nutriton, spin and many more.

After working in the industry as a PT, Kimberley went on to study an MA in Digital Marketing and continues to expand her knowledge in the industry. Her main focus is to keep up with current trends and communications with a focus around health & fitness, writing and being creative.

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