March 7, 2013

Tips for Being a Mindful Yogi in a Crowded Class. ~ Jackie Applegate

Source: talentsearch.yogajournal.com via Carin on Pinterest

Love Thy Neighbor.

The hot yoga industry is growing at a rapid pace. Students are lining up to reap all the benefits that a hot yoga class offers, both physically and mentally. But studio success can also harvest frustrated students. Sold out, at-capacity classes can make students feel as if they have no room to breathe, or move!

Below is a list of tips to help both teachers and students embrace the space (or lack thereof) and the fact that strength truly comes in numbers.

Introduce yourself

Before class begins, acquaint yourself with your neighbor. Apologize in advance for any awkward bumps or sweat you may share during class. Yoga classes are about community. You’ll share a laugh and get to know someone new who loves to practice just like you do.

Break the ice

As a teacher, point out the elephant in the room. Acknowledge that the students are packed in like sardines. Remind people to be mindful of their neighbors and to laugh if they cross (or fall) onto each other’s mats. Use this as a time to recognize the commitment of the students and your appreciation for their dedication to the studio.

Breathe together

One of the most powerful things you can experience in a yoga class is the moment when everyone in the class comes into a single breath. Inhale. Exhale. Unity. Take notice of the people to each side of you as well as in front of and behind you. Align yourself with their breaths and, if they’re doing the same, before you know it you’ll be creating a force that carries you through the most difficult of asanas, or yoga poses.

Be generous with your space

I know it’s hard to fathom that such peaceful, loving yogis could become so territorial but we aren’t perfect and after 8 consecutive wheels we all want to take full advantage of supta baddha konasana (lying butterfly pose). But with 2 inches between our mats we’re bound to bump knees. Don’t fight for the space; stagger yourself, turn around on your mat. Most of all, be the bigger person and enjoy the rest you deserve.

Laugh out loud

We’ve all done it. We’ve grazed sweaty arms during sun salutations. We’ve stuck a foot in someone’s face during airplane pose. We’ve stepped on someone else’s mat while flipping our dogs. Know how to laugh both at yourself, and along with your neighbor.

Improve you

Use what is sometimes an awkward and uncomfortable situation to deepen your practice. Learn how to tolerate what is not readily available to you: space. Just like with many yoga poses, a lack of space can be unpleasant but treat it as a challenge. Instead of running from it or letting it stop you from coming to class, embrace the opportunity to become a more patient and tolerable person.

Say When

As a studio owner, know when to say when. Do you need to offer more classes? Is it a specific time slot or teacher’s class that is consistently at maximum capacity? Ask yourself what types of incentives can be offered to attract students to other classes. Offer community classes for a lower cost at a less appealing time. Acknowledge when it is time to consider expanding, or opening a new, space.


Jackie Applegate is an avid yoga practitioner and teacher-in-training in the City of Brotherly Love. She is also a devoted runner and animal rescue advocate. Fusing together her love of fitness, humanity and travel Jackie hopes to change the world one yoga mat, homeless puppy and good glass of wine at a time. Follow her at @jackiepun, contact her at [email protected].

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Ed. T. Lemieux/Kate Bartolotta

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