Yoga Etiquette

Studio Etiquette


Yoga is based on honesty, so simply be honest. Do not try to get free classes just because your friend is the teacher, or because you are a teacher. Teachers usually get free yoga where they teach, but this does not mean you should get free everywhere. Do not try to change your name in order to take advantage of new student packages most studios have to offer. You only get to be a new student once. Simply abide by the rules for each studio you enjoy practicing at. Remember that the type of energy you project, you also attract. As an instructor, it is a rare occasion that you will find yourself behind the desk, but the same rules apply, just be honest and have integrity in all your transactions and dealings.


Many of us have preferences for which teacher we most enjoy practicing with, and this is normal and perfectly acceptable. What is unacceptable is voicing your opinions on which teachers are awesome and which are not at the studio, especially within earshot of any owner, secretary or, god forbid, teachers. This classifying forgets that we are all entitled to our own experience and opinions, not to mention it is incredibly rude, and if your words happen to fall on the wrong ears, say your least favorite teacher's ears, they can be extremely, and unnecessarily hurtful. This also means that if you show up to take your favorite teachers class and there is you may not know, or don't prefer, take class anyways. Everything happens for a reason and you are meant to show up that day for yoga with that specific teacher, like it or not. Leaving would be missing out on an opportunity to learn. If that means that you end up judging and comparing the teacher the whole time, then shame on you, but watch your judging and comparing, naturally detaching from it and learn more about it, maybe you'll even get to transform it into love and light, which is the purpose of living. It is also highly inappropriate if you are a teacher comparing other teachers as well. keep your opinions to yourself, practice with your preferred teachers, and learn to let go if you show up and your favorite teacher has a sub.

Chatting in the Lobby:

Depending on the studio, the lobby may be located within ear shot of the class room. If this is the case, keep your volume to a dull roar. Typically, if you arrive 15 minutes early or right before, you are also arriving when previous classes are winding down, or already in savasana meditation. Respect the savasana by not chatting away loudly in the lobby, disrespecting the peace and quite of the students still in class. Keep this in mind if you are the instructor checking your students in as well.

Class Etiquette


No matter how pleasant you think your favorite oils, perfumes, sprays, lotions, etc. are keep in mind that in a room full of perspiring yoga students your strong scents may in fact insult the nostrils of a fellow student - this goes for teachers too.

Alcohol or drug Use:

This kind of goes without saying, and mostly for the reason that you should always come to the mat with the intention of letting whatever is meant to happen happen, but preparing yourself beforehand with the utmost integrity. Showing up drunk or high does not set you up to be clear to experience the process that occurs or not. It is also dangerous for you and for your fellow students and teacher, as you never know what can happen when mixing drugs or alcohol with an intense physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual experience.

Arrive early for class:

Not only is it extremely distracting to have students come to class late for the students, but also for the teacher. Once class begins, a beautiful orchestration of energy begins to flow involving the teacher and students together as one moving, breathing, flowing energy. A trust and safeness is felt as the energy of the individual merges with the group as a whole. If a student walks in late, it interrupts this mutually felt trust and safety that is felt. Eventually, the energies will merge again, but if this can be avoided. Arriving not just on time, but early to allow for ample time to pay, go to the bathroom, set your things in a safe spot, create your sacred space, and drop in is the way to not only avoid interrupting the sacred flow of experience that occurs in each class, but it also sets you up for success. It is acting with compassion for you, for your class mates and for your teacher. Teachers should arrive early, how early depends on the protocol of the studio where you teach. Typically, you want to arrive with enough time to get settled, and prepared for teaching. Make sure you give yourself enough time to set up music, set up your mat, and water, clear the room of any negative energy, and set your intention for teaching, usually about 15 minutes is ample time for this.

Remove your shoes:

In the class room, treat the space with respect. Your mat is placed on the floor, where your sacred experience takes place. Respect not only your mat, but the floor beneath it by removing your shoes. This will also prevent tracking dirt all over the studio floor where often times your feet, hands, and who knows what other body parts may touch.

Electronic devices:

Yoga is meant to calm the fluctuations of the mind and so a peaceful, and relaxing environment is key. It is also meant to bring you into the present moment. a phone call can not only disturb the ears of everyone in the class room, but it can also set everyone's mind off on wondering who the phone belongs to, who just irritated and distracted them, who is calling, and what did they want, thereby bringing everybody into the past and future and away from the present moment. Do not bring your phone, or beeper into class under any circumstances. In some special cases, the teacher may allow you to bring in your phone, but this must be communicated to the teacher ahead of time. Also, you must ask the teacher if it is OK rather than tell them, and be respectful of whatever their choice is. Remember that the teacher has a whole class to consider, not just you.

Mat placement:

Some classrooms will have mirrors and some will not. If mirrors are present, this is an opportunity for you to visually check your own alignment by placing your mat so that you have a clear visual line to the mirror. This is not always possible, but do your best. Give others the same opportunity to check out and refine their own alignment by placing your mat in a way so that the students behind you can also see. Often times staggering mats works best for this. Also, many students come to class and bring all their old habits in with them, such as continually placing their mat in the same spot. Yoga is about breaking patterns, so do not feed into your old, rigid patterns by continually "getting your spot" in class. When you walk into the room, see if you can tap into your intuition to tell you where you should place your mat for this particular class. This will keep your perspective fresh from the moment you set your mat down.

Respect other space:

Whether you are slightly new to yoga, or a seasoned practitioner you probably can remember some amazing breakthroughs you had had on your mat, physically, mentally and emotionally. So, in a way you have gone through some processes, or journeys on your mat. Now think about your practice as a whole and the accumulation of journeys you have gone through, which is your journey through yoga. think about how special that is to you and think about how that journey takes place on your mat. Your mat hold the collective vibration of the accumulation of all the experiences that have taken place on it, and so is very sacred. Respect your mat by keeping it clean, physically, and energetically. Respect others mats too by consciously walking around, thereby respecting their sacred space.

Let the teacher be the teacher:

Not only from a student's perspective, but also from a teacher's, it is extremely rude when a student takes liberty to instruct another student, get up to adjust the heat, lights, music, doors, windows, etc. Hold space for the teacher to hold the energy of the room in a safe and nurturing environment. Additionally, if a student takes liberty to help out the teacher in the way they see fit, it subconsciously causes the class to lose trust in the teacher's ability to lead. An exception to this rule is if the teacher asks for your help. As a teacher, if a student challenges your authority, and begins to help you out, ask them kindly to stop and return to their mat. After class, it is up to you if you want to ask them not to do that again and offer an explanation why. Often times, asking them to stop and return to their mat is enough. If it becomes a problem, it is up to you to talk with the necessary people so as to create a safe space for your students while you are teaching.

Let the class be the class:

Sometimes we show up to a class and it is not what we expected or wanted to get from that hour or hour and a half of our precious time. However expecting and getting are two things that yoga invites us to overcome. Yoga does not just take place on the mat, it takes place in your life as well. So coming to class with expectations, and wanting to get something particular out of the class demonstrates a weak yoga practice. If you happen to show up and are not in love with the flow, your dissatisfaction with class becomes your practice and you can learn to detach from and watch it. If you can manage to shift your perspective in this way, you can open yourself up to experience one of the most powerful, and important yoga classes you have ever taken. This is a far better demonstration of integrity than leaving, or doing your own thing.

Talking during class:

In the few lingering moments before class begins you should give yourself some time to shift gears from your busy life to your yoga practice. It is impossible to shift into an inward focused practice when you spend these moments talking with your neighbor. In addition, talking before class disturbs those around who who are trying to make that inward shift. During the entire duration of class, remaining silent is essential. Only the teachers voice and any music played during class should be heard.

Leaving early:

There will be times when a student needs to leave early. In this case, it is up to the teacher to allow this or not. If you chose to let them take class, you can place them in the back of the room, so that when they leave early it is of the least disturbance to the rest of the class. Some yoga is better than no yoga.

Special cases:

This includes temporary or permanent injuries, disfigurements, and illnesses. This is a very personal subject. First of all it is up to the student to decide whether they want to practice or not. If you feel up to coming to class with an injury or disfigurement, great! Everybody who wants to show up to their mat should be honored and recognized for that. It takes a lot of courage to show up. As far as illness goes, practice ahimsa (compassion) both for yourself and for others. If you are contagious, do not bring your illness into the room and share it with your fellow students and teacher, and potentially the whole studio. If your are ill, but not contagious, its really up to you to decide. If you want to practice, by all means practice.


Savasana is the part of class where the benefits are realized. If you need to skip out on savasana once in a great while, its OK, just tell your teacher ahead of time. If this becomes a regular occurrence or preference, take a look at that. If you can't come to the whole class, then you can't show up to receive the full benefits. If this is the case, then why come to class?

Keep track of your things:

It can be pretty frustrating to leave the studio and realize you left your favorite mat, mat towel, wallet, etc. at the studio. "Yoga Brain" is that the totally present, and a little too connected to the intense experience we just had, so not connected to things like belongings state of mind we tend to get when leaving the studio. Yoga Brain can be blamed for many things, including forget our belonging at the studio. Try to make it a habit of making one last final check list of your belongings before you leave the studio. in addition, you wouldn't believe the hot, sweaty, smelly pile of belongings that tend to accumulate from the many washings of yoga brain a studio experience on a daily basis.

Serra Lynn Smick is a healer of sorts living in Big Sur, CA. She is a Yoga Instructor, a Yoga Instructor Trainer, Yoga Workshop & Retreat Leader, as well as a Meditation Guide, Reiki Master, Nutritional Advisor and writer of many holistic and spiritual topics. Contact Serra at