Recently I wrote a blog about yoga etiquette and it really struck a chord with some of you. So here’s a tongue in cheek guide to where to place your yoga mat in the studio.

1. Hot or cold?

Generally in the warmer months we run the air conditioner. There are two in the room, on the side nearest to reception. If you’re prone to getting hot and sweaty in yoga then you may want to place your yoga mat closer to the reception side of the room to get the cool air.

If you hate being cold, the picture-side of the room is the warmest spot. It gets the least amount of airflow and will resemble the normal room temperature.

Quite often people get this mixed up so that people who hate the cold are freezing in front of the air conditioner and people who are melting in a pool of sweat are near the far wall. There can be a 5-7 degree difference in temperature. Also, we will cool the room to 24 degrees, not 18 in summer. So expect to break a sweat in your Vinyasa class.

2. Front or back row?

Most people, especially newbies, flock to the back row for a bit of anonymity and because it feels kinda safe to have a wall behind you rather than a row of people. Certainly if you have see-through pants, this is the place to be. The thing is though, once we’re in Down Dog, everyone can see you. Also if we turn to the side or face the back, guess what? You’re in the front row.

There are real benefits to being in the front row. Firstly, you have a bit more space. Second, you don’t have someone in front of you to distract you. There’s nothing harder than trying to balance on one leg when the person in front of you is moving all over the place. It takes a bit of courage to go to the front row, but once you go front, you’ll never go back.

3. Corners

The four corners of the room are some of the most coveted spots. Corner-dwellers arrive 30 minutes early to secure their prime piece of yoga real estate. The corners near the air-conditioner are a premium in summer. Personally, I don’t like the corners. You have less space to move and will likely need to modify your stretches to avoid hitting the wall. But you will rarely find an empty corner.

4. The Wall

Near the wall is also a desirable place to be. It gives people comfort. Along the picture wall is the place to be if you like it warm. It’s also super handy to have the wall near you for balance poses or if you want to practise your headstand or legs up the wall. Generally, the room will fill up from the corners first, then the back wall, then the side wall. Quite often people will assemble their mats all around the edges of the room with no-one in the center.

5. The Middle

The person who chooses to place their mat in the middle is generally an advanced yogi. They like the space offered by the middle and they can find comfort on their mat regardless of where it is in the room. If you arrive late, you may have to go in the middle/front as it’s the last spot to fill up.

So once you’ve decided where to place your mat, there are a few other things to consider:

Just because you got there first doesn’t mean you shouldn’t move to accommodate others. One of the tenets of yoga is non-covetousness or non-possession. In other words don’t get too attached to your spot because if someone takes it, your attachment will cause you to suffer. Also, it’s kind to let people in. You know what it feels like in peak-hour traffic trying to merge on the freeway and cars don’t let you in. The same applies in the yoga class. If you see someone standing on the stairs with their mat looking for a place, please don’t ignore them – let them in. Imagine how grateful you would feel if someone did this for you?

The room accommodates five rows. There are black dots on the picture-side wall to indicate where to place the front of your yoga mat. In busy classes, stagger the front of your mat so you don’t bump your neighbour.

 So what to do when someone steals your spot?

You could glare at them, roll your eyes or ask them to move (unlikely as they got there early to stake their spot). Or you could recognise your attachment as a source of misery and let it go. It is often our expectations in life that set us up for disappointment. Once you become aware of your attachments you can do something about it. You can still have an awesome class if you’re outside your comfort zone.

Other insider tips:

  • The bolsters with the white piping are the best – they’re not too big, not too small. Just right
  • The straps with the black plastic buckle are the best. The silver buckle is a bit flimsy and may not support you (my bad for being stingy on the props)
  • Many of you don’t know there’s a kitchenette tucked away in the front of the room. You can fill your water up here.
  • Regular students are welcome to leave their mats in the corner of the kitchenette so that you don’t have to carry it back and forth.