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Yoga Etiquette – Mat Placement

Welcome to our yoga etiquette series. I was going to list them all in one entry but it would be way too long. So we’ll take it one by one. We’ll start with my favorite one – mat placement. [A soft gasp comes over the gallery]. 

We LOVE our space. We defend it. Even in the grocery store no one dares cross the separation bars on the conveyer belt. Well we take the placement of our mat even more personally. 

Countries should use yoga mats to mark their boundaries. Seriously, no one would dare cross the line. I’ve seen little wars break out because of mat placement. I watch it happen silently through body language and passive resistance. However, one time it really did get verbal and loud between two students. Not good and not yoga BUT we are human. 

Unwritten Rules of Mat Placement

  • If you want to have the most options, get to class a little early but definitely on time. You’ll have the best chance of getting your favorite spot. Got your fave spot? Awesome! Now don’t be super attached to it. If it’s a packed class, you might need to shift a tiny bit to make room for another yogi. Breathe, breathe, breathe…
  • Place your mat about 6 feet from the front and side mirrors. If you’re doing inversions leave yourself some space. By the way, mirrors are not meant for support during inversions either. Just thought I would throw that in…
  • You need to leave early? I commend you for squeezing yoga into your busy day. Really that’s commitment. If you know you’re leaving early, I recommend not setting up in the front row or the center of the room. Also let the teacher know. 
  • Stagger your mat with the yogis to the sides of you. We have more vertical space for standing postures when one mat is half a mat length forward or back to its neighboring mat.
  • If you’re setting your mat in front of someone don’t block their view of the front mirror. Set up just off to the side so both of you can use the front mirror. 
  • Personally I don’t like setting my mat right in front of the mirror seam. It looks funky and I find it distracting.
  • And finally the best place to put your yoga “stuff” is at the front of your mat. This includes blocks, water, towels, straps etc. etc.. If we place it to the side, it’ll get in the way with floor postures. Plus, I might step on it. Just saying…


If all else fails, remember, you’re getting upset over space. SPACE. A spot on the floor.

Now you know. Share this with others and if you find yourself being the recipient of less than proper mat placement etiquette give the person the benefit of the doubt. They may not be as informed as you are.