When you start going to yoga class, it seems like there are a bunch of rules that everyone knows that you don't. Because there are, but they're all unwritten, and you need to figure them out over time.
Let me save you some trouble, and share ten unwritten rules in yoga class that I figured out through lots of trial and some error.
1. Don't Step On My Mat, Please
I consider mats an extension of people's practice, in a way. Unless I'm teaching and giving an adjustment, I try and stay off someone's mat as a way of respecting their space and their practice.
So please don't step on my mat unless you're pushing me out of the way of an angry scorpion running at my butt (true story).
2. No Sock Zone
Obviously, it's your practice, and you can do whatever feels good for you. But socks don't provide the best traction on a yoga mat.
No one cares what your feet look like, and a lot of yogis have crazy yogi toes anyway. We're very accepting of funny looking toes here!
3. Don't Fart on the Teacher
Yoga totally mixes things up internally, so it's pretty normal for someone to make an embarrassing noise at one point or another.
Just maybe try and hold it in until the teacher is finished adjusting your Down Dog.
4. Don't Chat with Your Neighbor
I have a tendency to make snarky comments during movies, TV shows, and everyday life, and therefore completely understand how it can be hard to not talk to your friend during yoga class.
But some people might not appreciate your snark in the same way your BFF does. Just save your wittiness for when you're rolling up your mat.
5. Question? Ask Quietly
This kinda goes hand-in-hand with #4. If you have question on alignment, give the teacher a signal, and they'll be more than willing to come help you out quietly.
If you ask a question loudly and interrupt the flow of the class, you might throw off the teacher and disturb the Zen. No one wants disturbed Zen.
6. Nap Time
I'm 100 percent in favor of you taking the time you need for you, and staying in Child's Pose or Savasana for an hour if that's what your body needs. Definitely do that if you need to.
But please don't come to class, put your mat in the front of the room, and promptly fall asleep on your belly. Plus, it's a rather expensive nap, in my opinion.
7. Stagger Your Mat
I only figured this one out because I started out as a dancer, and no one likes being accidentally kicked in the face.
The same applies for yoga. If you stagger your mat, you're much less likely to hit your neighbor while you're wind-milling your arms down to the mat, and vice versa.
8. White Pants? No Pink Undies
This one is more for you than your neighbors. I would be lying if I said I had never forgotten that I was wearing my black and white striped underpants before going to yoga class with white leggings. That wasn't a fun realization when I got home.
Save yourself some embarrassment, and check that you're all in order clothing-wise before heading out the door.
9. Darth Vader Doesn't Do Yoga (I Don't Think)
Ujjayi breath is fantastic. It's an awesome, easy form of Pranayama, and will work wonders for your practice.
But unless you're Darth Vader, maybe try and quiet your ocean breath just a wee bit.
10. Save Your Applause
I totally get it. Sometimes, a yoga class is just so wonderful and amazing and everything you ever wanted, that after the final "Namaste," you feel like applauding. However, maybe you should show your appreciation in a different way.
After a yoga class, people are generally pretty blissed out and enjoying the quiet, so just try to preserve that space for the people who want it.
I don't really want to admit to how many of these unwritten rules I violated before getting into the yogic swing of things. I'll leave it to you to guess. But my hope is that maybe you'll get less dirty looks (that were trying to be yogically non-judgmental) than I did.