Many of you who are reading this blog post probably got your start in yoga at a gym, as I did. Most of you probably still practice only at a gym or community center, and perhaps have not experienced a studio class. Nothing wrong with that. Years ago, there were more gyms than yoga studios – and now studios seem to be popping up everywhere. Have you ever wondered why many are gravitating to the studio? What’s the attraction? What’s the difference? Does it really matter where you take a class?
Perhaps sharing from my own yoga journey will give you some insight. I was a late comer to fitness of any kind. (If you’re interested in my background and what brought me to the mat, you can browse the “about” page, and listen to the audio link there.) It was probably close to my 4th decade that I went to a yoga class – at a gym. For me, it was just another form of exercise, and I went infrequently. Eventually, I found a weekend class that I liked which worked with my schedule, and I began to attend regularly.
The class became more than just another form of exercise. Moving through the postures, I made a connection between the way my poses were executed, and how I am in life. Tension, being in my head, forcing an outcome, neglecting feedback from my body, instead of being heart- centered, being with what is in the moment, and feeling my way through the postures. I was struck on many levels. I felt I had uncovered a piece of myself that was clearly there all along, but I had not previously known. Once uncovered, I was hooked-compelled to return each week. After a while, I needed to deepen my knowledge and practice so I could deepen my self-discovery.
That experience led me to my teacher training and certification. My first teaching job was in the gym, where I had discovered yoga. I subsequently taught there for over 5 years. Meanwhile, my personal practice and continued education unfolded at the studio. I found what I was looking for in the yoga studio. Distinct from the gym, at the studio, my practice arose from within me. There, teachers typically guide students verbally through the practice, allowing each person to have their own experience. In the gym, teachers demonstrate to the class, with the pitfall of students trying to be that, at the expense of compromising their personal journey, and often their physical well-being.
Recently, I left teaching at the gym, because I want to provide more value to my students through studio classes. Importantly, when I’m not demonstrating the entire class, I can watch you move, ensuring your safety. If necessary, I alter my cueing, or place my hands to gently guide you in a way that’s just right for your body. I have access to many more props so the poses are more comfortable and accessible. After all, we all have different bodies, strengths and weaknesses, and levels of experience. And, the essence of a good practice is always honoring our body.
The classes I offer are currently limited to 8 students, to allow for personal attention. Breathwork, pose break down, modifications and direct assists are integral components of my teaching. If you’ve never experienced a studio yoga class, or are currently looking for a more personalized yoga experience, I hope you’ll join me on your yoga journey. Namaste