A few months ago, a friend of mine told me very excitedly about how he had started doing yoga and was really enjoying it. He was following YouTube’s Yoga With Adriene and was now much closer to touching his toes than he was a month ago. At some point in our conversation, I asked him about if he had taken any classes out in public, and his face darkened with aghast horror. “I would never pay money to go to a studio. Never.”
Which got me thinking about all of the different ways there are to practice yoga, all of the preconceptions that surround them, and all of the information and misinformation that is out there.
Throughout my life I’ve had my own periods of not practicing, of relying on YouTube classes, of belonging to studios and going to classes nearly every day, along with periods where I was almost exclusively practicing by myself without guidance. From each method, I’ve gotten different benefits, and I’ve experienced different drawbacks. My practice now is a mélange of the three, each serving me in different ways.
Benefits of Studio Classes –
- Curated, peaceful, distraction-free environment for practice. You can really let go here. You won’t be interrupted by the people you live with, or the nagging feeling that there is any number of other pressing items on your to do list that you could be doing. The act of going to a studio consecrates that hour to your practice, helping to create a focused mindset.
- Teachers are trained to teach whoever is in front of them. Yoga teachers can and should come into a class with a plan, but modify it based on the class that arrives that day, observing them and meeting their needs in a way that is only possible if the students are there.
- Community. If you go to a studio regularly, you will get to know the teachers, the staff, and other regular students. Some of my best friendships have been born in the studio. This community can also be so gently motivating. You’ll want to practice to see your friends!
- Collective practice amplifies the energy. There’s just something about flowing with a room full of people that can really boost your ~vibes~ For real, it’s one of my favorite things
- Refuge. On a bad, lonely day, going to a yoga studio can be such a soothing experience. A healing practice, an escape from the real world, and gentle, non-invasive social nourishment.
- You will learn a lot and experiment! Studios have many different teachers, all of whom will have their own unique style (Bikram and Core Power-style studios not included.)
- Many studios have trade programs. For two or three hours you help to maintain the studio in exchange for free, unlimited yoga! It is often a great deal, and a great way to really immerse yourself in the studio’s community and make friends!
- Every studio and every studio culture is different. There will be studios that you do not mesh with. It is important to find a studio culture that works with you, and that’s just going to be one of those gut feelings.
- It can be intimidating. The culture and community that develops in yoga studios is a beautiful thing for those in it, but can be intimidating for newcomers. From the tight pants to the people who seem to all know every pose as well as every single other person in the class, it can be hard to be new. Remember that it’s just a yoga studio. It’s just a place where people practice yoga. PRACTICE. Most people who are doing yoga are in a good mood. Lots of them are very sweet. Just keep going. You belong. You belong. You belong.
- It is time-consuming. The classes are usually going to be at least an hour, plus you have to get there and back. For the vast, vast majority of people, it is not possible to #YogaEveryDamnDay if you only #Yoga at the yoga studio.
- It is not free. Many studio memberships cost about as much as a nice gym membership. Studios have rent to pay, and staff and teachers on the payroll. Teachers need to be paid for their time spent planning classes, costs incurred furthering their education, and time spent answering questions on top of the actual teaching that they do. But the fact that the cost is justified doesn’t change the reality that it is something to be budgeted for, and sometimes your budget just can’t accommodate it at the time. Many studios do offer reduced-price Community Classes and trade programs.
- Trade programs can be wonderful, but there is always a risk that traders could get taken advantage of. You shouldn’t be working for much more than 3 hours, and the labor should be light. This will come down to culture. If the culture isn’t right, get out of there and find a new studio, because trading should, honestly, be fun. It was for me 🙂
The Bottom Line
If you find the studio (or studios) right for you, attending classes will make sure that your practice stays well-rounded. It will expand your practice, and give social roots to your internal work. The studio can provide a sense of belonging, something we all deeply crave. It can also be expensive and time-consuming, so for most people it is not an every day thing, but a treat a couple times a week (or month) that will help you to reset your life.
I’ll be talking about YouTube classes/social media yoga, and private self practice in my next few posts. What are some of your thoughts?