Yoga Etiquette: 11 Rules We Wish All Yogis Would Follow

Stefano Tinti /

Stefano Tinti /

Yoga-class etiquette is kind of like dog-park etiquette: You don’t know it exists until you see someone do something seriously wrong. But believe me, it’s a thing. Chances are you’ve committed one of these yoga crimes during a mat-sesh, but not to worry—we’ve compiled this handy-dandy list of yoga-class no-nos so you’ll never unknowingly never piss off your mat neighbor again. If you’ve got a nagging yoga faux pas that we missed, let us know in the comments. Consider it catharsis.

1. Don’t stroll into the room 10 minutes late, like a college senior who is just sooo over going to class. No one likes that guy in college, and people really don’t like that guy when they’ve been in camel pose for two minutes.

2. Don’t hog the skylight. You probably have your favorite spot in the classroom—by a breezy window, underneath the skylight, in front of the instructor—but be flexible (ha, get it?). A Saturday morning yoga class can get pretty packed, and you don’t want to be that guy who refuses to move his mat three inches to the left because it’ll ruin his view.

3. Don’t bring your iPad, iPhone, iPod, i-ANYTHING into the room. I know you’re just dyyyying to post a Lululemon-clad mirror-selfie on Instagram because how else will anyone know that you didn’t just hang out with your cat all weekend? But don’t.

4. Don’t walk across other people’s mats to find a spot to roll yours out. Do you like another person’s sweaty feet touching your things? I didn’t think so.

5. Don’t underdress. Believe me, it is wayyy too easy to have a wardrobe mishap á la Janet Jackson at the Superbowl when you’re wearing a low-cut tank and twisting your body upside down and all the way around.

6. Don’t wear the same yoga pants for an entire week straight. Just because you’re going to ruin your clothes with sweat (again) doesn’t mean you should throw personal hygiene out the window. The person next to you will appreciate the fact that your clothes are freshly laundered.

7. Don’t talk to the person next to you about that rude thing your sister said yesterday or the funny thing your dog did this morning or about how you can’t wait to have a glass of wine. Because, NO ONE CARES. Maybe they’ll care after class, but right now they’re busy caring about not breaking their neck during headstand pose.

8. Don’t laugh at yourself, your friend or the 80-year old man wearing an American flag Speedo in the front row. Here’s why: The new girl, who has only mastered savasana thus far, might think you’re laughing at her. (Note: You should feel free to smile once in a while. Even yogis can have some fun!)

9. Don’t be a human sprinkler. Practicing yoga can get you pretty sweaty, so bring a towel. Dripping sweat all over your neighbor’s mat is kind of like peeing on a stranger’s carpet. Angry glares are sure to occur.

10. Don’t stare at that girl whose hair still looks perfect after an entire hour spent in a 90-degree room (even though it’s totally unfair and completely baffling). In fact, don’t stare at anyone. It’s just creepy.

11. Don’t rush out of class, knocking over water bottles and stepping on innocent hands, during savasana. You just spent all that time working your butt off—relaxxx.

Around The Web

Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.

  • suerocks

    And don’t fart just because one time “someone told you that happens when you do yoga.” It’s a small room, for goodness sake.

    • grace


  • Sarah

    Try yoga at home with your kids a few times before you bring them out in public to try it out. Some kids get it, some don’t. :)

  • Steve

    See #1 … refer to #1 .. See #1 …refer to #1 …..

  • Laura L

    I agree with most of these, but can’t agree on #8. Laughing at yourself is what makes yoga more enjoyable. If you can’t laugh at yourself after falling on your face, then it’s not as fun!

    • grace

      I def agree. Its ok to laugh at yourself. If yogis don’t get your laughing at yourself, truth be told, the reason they are there is to learn to relax.

  • debra Duncan

    I cant count how many times people have walked across my mat and think nothing of it. How can you not know this is NOT OK???

  • JT

    if there is room in the class and you are picking a spot don’t put your mat right in front of someone that was there first, or just inches away from them…give them space if the class isn’t full for the love of all that’s good!

  • Sarah T

    I will laugh and wear what I want. Thanks.

  • Sarah Morgan

    oh i don’t know the more i do yoga the less i care if someone gets sweat on me, walks on my mat (my feet are on it, why are my feet so much less gross than someone else’s? because they are mine? thats just a silly prejudice against other people) or laughs at themselves in class or wears whatever they want. and since when is yoga about fearing your own body? sure a nipple pop would be embarrassing but i’m so sick of living in fear of my body and what i wear may or may not show, yoga is the one place i don’t give a shit at all. these are legalistic and from the idea of yoga as a trendy quasi spiritual work out, not the transformative truly spiritual practice it is. none of these things matter really.

  • grace

    Pretty much space your mat if there is room so your not potentially kicking someone in the face. Leave snarky comments and opinions about others in regards to everything, that means age, level of yoga study and practice, mental clarity, the reason you or they are there, and enjoy a truly spiritual practice. Don’t get angry when new arrivals come, and need a workshop study. Enjoy yourself and brush up. Don’t gossip about another yogi. Don’t comment about other teachers to the owner or other teachers. If you don’t like em, practice for you, or don’t attend their class. In other words…don’t bring your negativity inside…don’t bring your phone, or homework…breath…deep. Make it to your mat, leave all at the door. Tune out. This is your time.

  • Jennifer Sobel

    I only agree with half of these…and I’m an instructor. Your money, your mat, your practice. Be appropriate however, not co-dependent…and each studio is different; some request silence, others do not. The one I am surprised I didn’t see is MAKE ROOM FOR PEOPLE. This is the most infuriating…you only need the space on your mat, not a 10 inch diameter around your mat as well.

  • yogagirl

    let it go… it’s yoga…. no judgements no competition no expectations…no rules!!!!!! except to smile and laugh if you choose!!!!!!!!!

  • Susan Marie McDowell

    Meh, I agree with most of these but not all. We laugh at ourselves and we sometimes laugh together as a class. It makes it more fun. I’d also like to add, be respectful of peoples space esp in a large studio. Do not put your mat 6 inches from someone elses when there’s PLENTY of room for you to space at least 6 feet apart. That’s just obnoxious.

  • since1969

    What do you all think about the person who plunks a mat down out of alignment — straddling two rows for instance, thus making everybody else improvise as they file in around them, and causing others to have less room around them?

    Particularly in an alignment-oriented class?

  • Giada

    #12 If there is silence in the room, respect it. If you are the only one chatting in the yoga room, there is a reason for that. Shhhh!

  • Kristen F

    As a yoga instructor, I only agree with about half of these. If someone is late, so what. Maybe traffic was bad, maybe a child was sick. Who cares, they showed up. Wear what you want, makes no difference to me. If you have to leave in a hurry, so be it. It’s your practice. Maybe walking on my mat is the only space in the room with out completing some Cirque du Soleil feat. That’s my practice to show acceptance, forgiveness and patience. Laugh, talk, ask questions, have fun! Again, it’s your practice.

  • Sladjana J.

    Why not laugh in yoga class, especially if “NO ONE CARES” (7)? It is just one way of letting go of tension.