Mat to Mat: 5 Tips for Dealing With Crowded Yoga Classes

January 10, 2015

The more the merrier isn’t always the feeling you get when your usual yoga class is crammed with new faces in the first months of the new year. Resolutions are usually the reason for this season, but instead of feeling resentful, try to see the situation as a part of the yoga experience.

Tweak your mindset and embrace the positives in the situation, the most obvious being the increased energy that comes from a packed studio of like-minded yogis. The benefits of yoga include feelings of increased awareness and connection, and the closeness of a crowded class will make us necessarily more aware of our neighbor, so make that a good thing. Combine that awareness with the yogic virtues of tolerance and embracing change and that strange foot creeping close to your mat may cease to annoy you.


Also consider these practical tips to deal with the situation:


  • Sign up: Register and purchase your new student special, class card, or drop-in online: Ensure a space in your favorite class and eliminate valuable time before or after class in line for payment by using the studio’s online sign up feature.  See our blog post on other great reasons for registering for class in advance.


  • Arrive early: Give yourself extra time to get to class early, check in and set up your mat. Use the extra time to center yourself and prepare for the increased energy of a crowded class. If possible, think ahead and use the restroom before you leave home or work to avoid the line at the studio.


  • Avoid peak times/try a new class: If you are used to going to the same class, and it’s become more crowded than you like, consider trying a new class at an off-peak time. The studio can let you know which classes are experiencing lower volume. You may even find a new favorite class or teacher. If you’re a regular student, this may be the motivation you need to move to a more advanced class or try a new style of yoga.  January is a peak month for beginners, so as a rule, Gentle Yoga classes are going to be among the fullest this month.


  • Set up with awareness: If you sense the class will be crowded, release any territorial attitude you might have and set your mat closer to your neighbor than usual to avoid having to move later. Tuck your props neatly nearby and stash your personal belongings in the cubbies.  As the room starts to fill, don’t wait for the instructor to ask you to scoot your mats closer together; make the adjustment on your own.  Everyone will appreciate it!


  • Adapt your practice: The first months of the year might be a great time to sign up for a few private lessons. You’ll certainly get all the space you need, and you can turn the crowds from a negative to a positive by doing something for yourself. 


Finally, we are spoiled for the most part with the personal space we have in this country whether it’s our own cars, individual bedrooms for each family member and right down to the space around our mat in class. But consider the birthplace of yoga. In India, people are used to crowds in every aspect of their life, but they manage to embody the yogic experience fully. Something to think about if you are working to deepen your practice.

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