What’s the Best Way to Lay Out Your Yoga Mat?


Yoga “Stuff Happens”

Teacher Question of the Week:

Which way do you turn your yoga mat and what direction do you face to teach your yoga classes? Is there an “official” right way or wrong way to do this?

I know much depends on the space of the studio.

Here are a few scenarios:

  1. Use one mat facing it horizontally. You teach facing sideways to the class
  2. Use one mat facing the same direction as your students’ mats. You teach facing the class or with your back to the class or a mixture of both.
  3. Use two mats and cross them so that you can turn both directions while teaching.
  4. Face the class and have them mirror your movements.
  5. Face the class and have them do the poses opposite you.
  6. Turn your back and do the poses with the class.
  7. Walk around the studio while you teach so you don’t have to make these decisions.

What you do is a personal choice, I suppose, but it might be helpful to get some dialogue going on proper “teacher mat etiquette” or some ideas on what works best for you. If you are not a teacher, give your thoughts on this topic as a student. What direction do you like for your teachers to stand when they are teaching yoga?



Photo courtesy of Werner Moser

5 thoughts on “What’s the Best Way to Lay Out Your Yoga Mat?”

  1. This is always a question for me!!!! I like facing the class so I can see everyone, but then they don’t get a side view to really see my positioning in poses. If I’m sideways to the class….I can only see 1/2 the room, which I don’t like. And I don’t like having my back to the room!
    So I have found it best to place my mat horizontal to the room, I start out normally seated…facing the class. Do the beginning breathing, stretches….come to all 4’s, tabletop, cat/cow, spinal balance….from this position. Start Sun Salutations, I normally do the 1st one w/them.
    Then I step off my mat and walk around, demonstrating poses off my mat in the same direction the class is. Sometimes demonstrate on my mat with back to class if it’s a pose that’s confusing to them if I’m not facing the same way they are.
    Sometimes I even use 2 mats, 1 vertical, 1 horizontal … On top of each other, so I can turn for different poses.
    It’s always been an issue for me lol

    1. charlotte bradley

      I know – it is a a dilemma isn’t it Kimberly?! I usually have mind horizontal as well and of lots of walking around, depending on the class. Two mats, crossed is a great idea! There is a studio in town here that has round mats at the front. That solves it 🙂

  2. Great replies, thank you!

    Kimberly, your comments are exactly what I do in class. Must be a Yogini Instinct thing, which Charlotte and I share, too. 🙂 I’m glad we’re all on the same “mat,” so to speak!

    Charlotte, I have never used a round mat but when I see them, I am drawn to buy one! I think the problem is how much space they take up. Then again, just for the instructor up front, one of those mats might function well.

    My home studio is in the basement so I have a “column issue.” Drives me crazy, but it comes in handy (bad pun) for when I need to hold onto something to demonstrate a challenging balancing pose!

  3. thank you for bringing this up! i tried mirroring and my students gets mixed up and i felt teaching sideways is the best for them to actually see.. i go around and i show them but yes it was always something to think about

    1. I suppose the more we all teach, the more we are comfortable with how we teach and position ourselves for instruction. It does seem unusual to me that it is not addressed more in yoga trainings. (I know there are programs out there that do touch on the idea of mat positioning.) Thanks for your comments!

Leave a Comment