The last thing a yogi wants to do is create stress—or talk about it. But when we asked these top instructors to tell us what they're really thinking, they divulged a few pet peeves (as well as some secret tips for Zen seekers). Here's what kept coming up.
1. If you're more than 10 minutes late, please consider skipping the class—even if we welcome you in.
"Coming in late can not only be distracting to the rest of the class, it can also lead to injury, especially if you've missed the warm-up and sun salutations. Peek into the room. If people are still sitting on the ground, then it's fine to join in. It's even better if you can wait until we're getting up, because then it's less disruptive for everyone to move over."
— Kristin McGee, a New York–based instructor for more than 15 years, creator of over 15 yoga and Pilates DVDs and an iPhone app.
2. Definitely bring your own mat...
"Most studios are good about cleaning them, but sometimes they just use a Handi Wipe. Regardless, it’s bad enough putting your face where your feet were. When you borrow a public mat, you’re putting your face where other’s people’s feet were."
— Clio Manuelian, an LA-based yoga instructor who teaches at Equinox, InYoga Center and YogaWorks.
3. ...But for the love of Buddha, please wash it regularly.
"So many people sweat all over their mat, then roll it up, throw it in their car and roll it out for the next class. If the mat's been living in your car for three months, we'll all smell it. Take it into the shower with you once a week or so and dry it in the sun."
—Annie Carpenter, Los Angeles-based instructor, originator of SmartFLOW yoga, a teacher's teacher, and a contributing editor at Yoga Journal.
4. We notice your Mrs. Clooney underwear.
"We don't really want to see what you're unintentionally showing. As teachers, we like to think we’re beyond that, but it’s still distracting."
— Annie Carpenter
5. Teaching certification is essentially meaningless.
"It can be easy to get a certificate, and almost everyone who teaches in a health club or studio probably has one. A better way to find an instructor is to ask around. Good teachers have followings, and you hear about them. Also beware of teachers who, when you tell them you have a pulled muscle or a sore shoulder, just tell you to keep pushing and breathe through it. That's usually a sign they don't know how to deal with the problem."
— Barbara Benagh, owner of Yoga Studio in Boston and an instructor for more than 40 years.