10 Things Your Yoga Teacher Secretly Wishes You’d Do

by Liz Arch
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10 Things Your Yoga Teacher Secretly Wishes You’d Do

As a yoga teacher in Los Angeles, I’ve seen and heard it all. While I pride myself on being laid back and creating a casual, welcoming atmosphere, there are some common rules of etiquette that go a long way. Abide by the 10 rules below to make your yoga experience a lot more pleasant for you, your teacher and everyone else in the room.


The opening moments of class are reserved for creating quiet space on your mat and to ground and center yourself while tuning into your breath. It’s incredibly distracting to have someone loudly enter the room and have to shift everyone over to make space for their mat.


In other words, make sure you don’t smell. Nothing ruins a yoga class faster than offensive odors. On the flip side, avoid strong perfumes and cologne, which can make it equally hard for your fellow yogis to breathe deeply. The yogic word for “cleanliness” or “purity” is saucha. Practice saucha every time you step onto your mat. This includes wiping down your mat, using a fresh towel each time you practice and washing your clothes. Those dirty gym shorts that have been baking in the back seat of your car? If they’re stiff enough to stand on their own, toss them.


Don’t track mud, dirt and street grime into the studio. Yoga is practiced barefoot and in many poses, your face is only inches away from the floor. Enough said.


In my classes, I offer a lot of room for creativity and flexibility. I encourage students to add poses and take poses out depending on what their body needs on any given day. I also encourage students to rest any time they need to, no matter what the rest of the class is doing. It would be appropriate for someone who is adept at handstands to hop into one while everyone else is doing a standing split, or to take an upward dog instead of cobra. But doing something drastically different from what is being taught at any given moment is highly distracting and can be hazardous for yourself and your neighbors if your body isn’t properly warmed up.


Yoga is a place to completely unwind and unplug. Your emails and social media feeds can wait an hour. Turning off your phone will also eliminate the risk of it ringing during savasana.


There’s absolutely nothing wrong with showing skin. I love when people feel comfortable and confident enough in their bodies to practice without layers. But please make sure that you aren’t exposing any of your private parts publicly. It sounds like common knowledge, but I have been flashed on more than one occasion, and there’s only one way to describe the experience: awkward.


While most teachers ask if there are any injuries, health issues or pregnancies in the room, it’s always a good idea to alert your teacher before class of anything they should be aware of to help keep you safe.



Yoga is for every body, and every body is different. Don’t judge your weaknesses against someone else’s strengths. Let go of labels. Keep your focus on your own mat and your own experience, and practice patience and compassion along the way.


The beautiful thing about yoga is you don’t need much space to do it — just the width and length of a standard yoga mat. Yet it never ceases to amaze me how unwilling people can be to share space or how attached people get to a certain spot in the room. I’ve seen fights almost break out over someone taking someone else’s “spot.” There are no reserved seats in yoga. Make room for others and they will gladly make room for you.


This is one of my personal pet peeves. I’ve had girlfriends start coaching their boyfriends and husbands start correcting their wives during class. I’ve also had other teachers start assisting and teaching to other students when it’s not their own class. Be respectful. If it’s not your class, don’t start teaching or offering unsolicited advice, unless you’re specifically asked.


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  • Sarah

    Ehhh sounds the opposite of laid back

    • Terrantino

      I think it sounds like common sense and simply shows respect to the teacher and others in the class thus leading to a more relaxed environment.

      • Bustyogi

        Believe me, I am already conscious of my breasts while doing yoga, and they are bothering me more than they are bothering you. I cannot wear “proper yoga attire” and not “flash” you unless it is super high collared, in which case it is very uncomfortable for me. So if I am supposed to make others comfortable by being super self-conscious, then that doesn’t seem like a relaxed environment. So this was struck me as “the opposite of laid back” and more of “body shaming”.

        • Dr. Obvious

          i think she is talking about men.

        • hulabird


        • Lisa

          I don’t think she was talking about cleavage. The first time you look up and see the guy in front of you wearing jogging shorts and going commando, you will understand her comment. Yoga clothes are clingy for a reason.
          P.S. wear something comfortable and then forget about the girls. YOU are way more conscience of them than anyone else (unless they don’t have any and envy dosent look good on anyone – let them stare).

        • Dogtown

          Don’t worry…please keep showing up as you always have.

  • Great advice, it’s a good reminder.

    • ” Ehhh sounds the opposite of laid back”

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  • Javier Plantillas

    Very good post. I have just started with yoga because of some issues with my back and it is being really tough. Very good blog. Congratulations!

    • iolani64

      I’m going back to yoga soon but it is a little competition. I’m a stocky guy and it’s fun to do poses the right way and look relaxed while other are bending their knees a lot, etc.

  • Samantha Gallo

    Be teachable. Come with the willingness to learn, be curious, and do deep work. I don’t pretend to know everything but if teacher and student come with an open mind then magical things happen

    • iolani64

      The secret is to let the muscle that you’re working to be able to relax totally. Visualization works well

  • TioDon

    “And NO Farting”….none, nada, zero, zilch.

    • Paula Field Canton

      sometimes you can’t help it! I have practiced yoga for almost 10 years formally and I still have a hard time not giggling as I know how awkward it is and the pretending it didn’t happen makes it all the funnier.

      • TioDon

        Ahhh, the one thing that yoga can use more of……laughing…..

    • margey

      But it MAKES you fart.

    • Bustyogi

      Or, don’t judge people for normal bodily functions? How can people relax if they are worried about something their body does?

    • Dr. Obvious

      farts happen. gotta open that chakra

  • Gregory

    Sounds pretty bitchy for something so peaceful. Of course that is what happens to anything that involves bleeding cunt women.

  • Tom Smith

    When you enter the yoga studio, even before class, be quiet. People are meditating or practicing. If you want to socialize, take it outside.

  • Diane Kieler Konshak

    Very poor title by a professional organization…

  • Anna Gurney

    I was at a yoga class once and a man took a call DURING the class. He was literally talking on the phone for at least 5 minutes and didn’t bother to leave the room or keep his voice down. I couldn’t believe how disrespectful he was being

    • elsells

      The instructor should of asked him to please go outside to take the call

    • Dogtown

      That would have really ticked me off. How about checking texts? Leave it in the locker room!

  • Norma Beck

    I’m so fed up with reading about yoga
    this and yoga that like it’s the end all, be all of fitness. How about giving Tai Chi a nod for a great health and fitness program? I’ve done yoga in the past but once I got into tai chi I found it was much more beneficial. There always seemed to be someone in yoga class getting hurt but in the years of taking tai chi there has never been anyone who has injured themselves. The health benefits are amazing and encompasses mind body and soul. I wouldn’t go back to yoga for anything!

    • Marcy

      Then don’t read any more yoga articles

  • Dogtown

    These all sound like good points to me. I thought the title could have been better.

  • yogi_in_pain

    #4 is incredibly ableist. As someone with chronic pain and multiple disabilities, I’m grateful for teachers who invite me to move my body in a way that feels comfortable and connective in the moment.

    • AnotherFaux EmailAddy

      I’m glad that you are able to do yoga and get some help for your issues. I think the statement is meant to apply to the 90% of yoga participants who are indeed able. They shouldn’t disrupt the flow and confuse newbies as to the correct pose. They are ‘able’ to stay within the flow without pain and harm. And they should. You are not. And you shouldn’t.

  • marianne delaney

    I appreciate #2- strong scents (perfumes/colognes/essential oils) can trigger my asthma – not what I’m looking for in any group class.

  • SparklingH2O

    This is a horrible article and makes all yoga instructors seem like pompous asses. I hope that’s not the case.

  • Marv White

    10 things our DDPY practice openly says at the beginning of every class…..

  • PeterBrown77

    How about Bikram instructors stop claiming that you’ll burn between 900 and 1,200 calories per session? Not even in the realm of possibility. Or that I’ll be purged of “toxins”? I like the stretch and hate the bogus claims.

  • mzmony

    How about a list of things we secretly wish the yoga teachers would do? Let me start: #1 TEACH We dont pay you to come in and do your own workout. If you dont like someone else helping a student who is doing a pose incorrectly, maybe get up off your mat and correct poses. Especially for beginners. I see this at every class attended in our area–the instructor is oblivious to what everyone is doing. They even say ‘everyone’s doing great’ with their BACK to the class!@

  • mzmony

    #2 TELL newcomers the rules, especially the one about arriving late and disturbing others. If necessary tell them again. It is awkward for a newcomer as well not knowing what to expect or what is expected.