I love yoga. I want everyone to practice yoga. I think it changes lives.
That said, it took me every bit of five years of dabbling in it to finally decide it was for me. It’s complicated. But it shouldn’t be. One of the things I’ve loved most about writing this blog is introducing so many people to yoga. I have received so many emails and messages from readers who tried yoga after all of my proselytizing and ended up with a regular practice or even going through teacher training themselves. That alone is reason enough for me to write this blog!
I’m here to answer all of the yoga-related questions that might run through your mind whether you’re a newbie who is hesitant to try a class for fear of feeling like a fish out of water or an experienced yogi who wonders what your teacher really thinks about certain topics.
I have been teaching yoga for four years now and as a teacher…and I see it all. In general, I am very relaxed and kind of have an “anything goes” mentality when it comes to classes. I’m not going to chastise you for showing up five minutes late or leaving five minutes early, I don’t care what you’re wearing as long as you’re comfortable, I have no expectations about what you should or shouldn’t be able to do, etc.
My first priority is for my students to feel comfortable, safe and taken care of in class. I tell them all the time, “I’m here for you…not for me!” My mantra is, “follow the feel good.”
All that said, I thought it might be helpful to share a few general pointers and etiquette reminders for things I see regularly in class and questions I hear a lot.
1) You don’t need your socks.
One of the things I see most with new yogis is not taking their socks off. I know it can feel a bit weird and vulnerable to have your bare feet out there for everyone to see but it’s for your own benefit! Your bare feet will have a lot more traction on your mat than your socked feet. And while we’re taking about feet…your feet DO NOT gross me out, I am not judging whether or not you’ve had a pedicure and I totally do foot rubs at the end of the class on my own free will!
2) No shoes in the studio. (And other personal belongings.)
Studio space is sacred. Just bring yourself, your mat and your good energy into class. (And water/towels if you need it!). Wearing shoes in the studio kind of takes away from the purity of the space…as does having your bag, keys, personal belongings scattered around your mat. Most studios have cubbies or lockers for belongings. If you’re concerned about valuables, leave them at home!
3) Absolutely no cell phones in the studio. (Oh look there’s a picture of me with a cell phone in class. If you need to take a selfie, do it before or after and take the phone out of the room! :))
You’re probably thinking, “duh.” And I wish I was kidding…but it’s actually a huge issue. I have actually seen students checking phones in the middle of holding postures (this has also happened in BodyPump and other group ex classes too). This is not okay on many levels. First, in regards to the student’s ability to disconnect and be present and second, in respect to the teacher and other students. Leave your cell phone on silent in your bag, in your car or at home. If you are a professional on call or nervous you’ll miss a call from your child’s school/nanny/etc., leave your phone with the front desk. They are usually happy to let you know if you are needed in a way that is respectful and tactful!
4) Blocks (and other props) are your friends.
There is NO SHAME in using blocks, straps and blankets. They help with both making your practice experience more pleasant and in finding proper alignment. For whatever reason, students are sometimes hesitant to use props. It is not a sign of weakness! I use a block every time I practice. Grab props and utilize them.
5) It’s okay to be a few minutes late…I just want you to practice!
I have had students not enter class because they got stuck in traffic and end up running 10 minutes late. I would rather you quietly come in late and find a spot than skip practice and go home. I totally understand that life happens.
6) But don’t be “that yogi” who is chronically late for no reason.
7) Leaving during savasana is no bueno!
Let me repeat…DO NOT leave during savasana! Final rest is the most sacred time of practice. It is extremely distracting and disrespectful to other students (and the teacher) when you’re rolling up your mat, walking through the middle of class and opening and closing the door in the middle of savasana. If you need to leave early, just give the teacher a head’s up (we understand!) and do it before savasana.
8) On the topic of savasana…relax!
I see new yogis fidgeting on their mats during savasana. Sometimes I can tell they feel really uncomfortable and unsure of what to do. I have also had some regular students who choose to continue practicing or doing abs or some other activity like fixing their hair or cleaning their mat during savasana. This nervous energy can be felt by others in the room who are in savasana. I totally get that it’s hard but try to train yourself to take a deep breath, let go of control and be okay with being in silent surrender for a few minutes. I hear all the time, “I can’t stop my mind in savasana.” It’s okay…just like your physical practice improving with time, so will your savasana. I fall asleep regularly in savasana now!
9) Place your mat in the designated space.
If all the mats are facing one direction, don’t arrange yours in a totally different way. And if there are clear markers for where to place your mat…use them! This helps create enough space for everyone, prevents shuffling around when it’s time to start class and allows the teacher to navigate the room.
10) If you have a hangnail, dead piece of skin, old band aid, etc. that you just have to get off during class…take it with you!
Seriously. And the same applies for used tissues. I can’t even tell you how many hairballs, dirty band aids and finger (and toe!) nails I have cleaned up in my time teaching. Definitely not a job perk.
11) And my last piece of advice for the day…check your yoga pants to make sure they’re not see through!
I really, really, really do not judge what anyone decides to wear to practice…if it makes you comfy and happy, wear it! That said, there are a LOT of yoga pants out there that are completely see through when stretched (this applies to expensive brands). I feel like this is a PSA I need to share. Ways to check? Do a down dog facing a mirror or ask a friend or family member to do a little check for you.
Want more take on what runs through your yoga teacher’s head? Read my “Answers from a Yoga Teacher” post.
Give me all of your yoga related questions. I am here to help!