For those uninitiated to the basic yoga class, not knowing what is or isn’t socially acceptable can be a source of unnecessary stress. It’s perfectly normal to be self-conscious in new environments, but don’t let your fear of social awkwardness keep you out of the yoga studio! To quell possible anxieties, here are some common social Dos & Don’ts for your first few yoga classes.
Socially Acceptable Behaviors in Yoga Class:
- Sitting still: If at any point in class you need a break, it’s perfectly ok to take a seat and chill out for as long as you want. There are students who will go to a yoga class and relax in Child’s Pose the entire time. Ain’t nothing wrong with that!
- Loud breathing, gasping, sighing, etc: Yoga focuses heavily on uniting breath with movement. If the guided breathing has you making louder noises than usual, don’t sweat it. There’s no such thing as the “annoying mouth-breather” in yoga class.
- Closing your eyes: Your instructor is not a movie star, and will not mind in the slightest if would rather listen than watch.
- Crying: Yoga can be a deeply emotional experience, and crying is really quite good for you! If you become overwhelmed by your thoughts, your life, your practice and the waterworks start flowing, there’s no need to be embarrassed.
- Falling: There is no shame in challenging yourself to new Asanas and not succeeding the first time. You will never grow & progress without a few falls, so get up & try try again.
- Farting (in moderation): A yoga class can be highly relaxing, sometimes to your own surprise. Your body & muscles are moving in novel ways, and it’s perfectly normal for your gastrointestinal tract to get a little bubbly. If you let a little wind slip, there’s no need to turn red and slink out of the room. We’ve all done it. Seriously.
- Taking your shirt off: The yoga studio is a judgement-free zone and nobody is going to give you the side-eye if you would like to practice shirtless. Whatever makes you comfortable!
- Dozing off: Every class should end with at least five or ten minutes of Savasana (Corpse Pose). The purpose of lying still is to let your practice “settle” into your body. But after an hour of yoga, accidentally dozing off is a very real possibility. If that happens to you, no worries. It happens all the time.
Socially Unacceptable Behaviors in Yoga Class:
- Bringing your phone in: Yoga is a time of introspection and self-exploration, and electronics are very anti-zen. Leave your phone in the locker room, or if you must have it by your side, keep it on silent. Checking notifications, texting, and answering calls are all big no-no’s.
- Chatting with your neighbor: Making friends before and after a session is part of the group class experience, but chatting during class is not ok. We guarantee your neighbor did not come to yoga class to chat, and neither should you. May we suggest a coffee shop instead?
- Not putting away your mat: If you borrow a mat from the studio or gym, make sure to wipe it down and put it away afterward. Your yoga instructor is not responsible for picking up after you.
- Arriving late or leaving early: Making a ruckus while entering or leaving the studio while class is still in session is disruptive to both your instructor and your fellow practitioners. Not only that, but instructors plan classes very specifically, so arriving significantly late and jumping in a flow cold is not good for your body. While it can be frustrating, if your choice is between walking in 15 minutes late or not attending class at all, you should skip class and practice on your own for the day.
- Leering: This should really go without saying, but regardless of your gender & sexual orientation, do not stare, leer, creep, or drool on your fellow yogis during class. They will not appreciate it, and you will probably get banned from the studio.
- Taking photos or videos: While you may be super proud of all the beautiful work you have been doing in class, it’s important to be mindful of your fellow students who may feel uncomfortable being recorded. In general, it’s best to wait until the end of class to snap a few photos or videos.
Are you still nervous about going in to a yoga studio? Try practicing at home first! Fresh Start: Morning Yoga, taught by Irene Pappas, is a great beginner program to build your confidence and get you studio-ready in your own time.