It can be intimidating to start a yoga practice, no matter what your goals are: stress reduction, gaining flexibility, or extending your social circle. Yoga can be less intimidating and more fun than you think if you choose the right studio and instructor.
Your journey toward health and fitness will begin as soon as you find the studio that is right for you. Below are a few pointers to help you decide where to practice.
Clarify Goals & Motivation
Describe why you want to start yoga honestly. Your doctor may have recommended it for stress relief, or you may wish to get in shape. Your doctor may have recommended it for pregnancy or rehabilitation. It might not be obvious why – but you’re curious and want to learn.
Narrowing down your choices begins with clarifying your motivations. When you’re searching for a prenatal yoga class or therapeutic yoga for recovery, for instance, you’ve already gone halfway there!
In the absence of an explicit reason, or if you have no idea where to start, your best bet is a class like Yoga 101 or Yoga for Beginners. Those attending these introductory classes may not even know what questions to ask as they may have no prior experience with yoga. Getting started on the right (correct) foot requires a teacher to anticipate your questions and ease your fears with basic information.
Know Your Geographical Limit
Using a geographical search field as a filter is one of the simplest ways to narrow your results down. Determine how far you are willing to travel for yoga classes. Look up the schedules and closest stops if you plan on taking public transportation. If you are driving, consider the parking situation. If the studio is too far away, you might skip out. You’re probably willing to travel a little extra to find the perfect studio.
Don’t Be Afraid to Try Different Yoga Studios
New students usually have the option of trying their first class or week for free. If you’re not sure about the studio, this is a safe and affordable way of checking it out before committing. This will also give you an idea of what kinds of yoga are available to you.
If you are unfamiliar with a particular style of yoga, don’t be intimidated. You may end up being drawn to something unexpected! Anytime you are not sure about how to prepare for a class, simply ask the studio.
Ask Your Friends
There is no harm in asking your yoga-practicing friends for their favorite yoga studio recommendations, even though everyone’s preference is different. Studio clients often have the opportunity to bring a guest with them to try out a class for free. This is an excellent way to get a feel for the studio before committing.
Do a Background Check
Please don’t take this as an invitation to stalk or harass! Learning about the studio beforehand is helpful. When was the studio established? What is their mission statement? Have they posted testimonials from students on their website? Who teaches at the studio?
As for the teachers, ask where and with whom they have studied. Since when have they been teaching? How do they approach teaching?
As the main organization for yoga studios and teachers in the U.S., Yoga Alliance is the standardizing body for yoga in America, although studios and teachers don’t need to be registered with the organization. A wide variety of yoga traditions are represented while ensuring that registered teachers and studios maintain certain standards of professionalism and education.
A registered yoga teacher (RYT) must complete a minimum of 200 or 500 hours of training that encompasses asana (physical practice), anatomy, philosophy – sometimes much more. It is recommended that experienced yoga teachers (E-RYT) have at least 1,000 hours of teaching experience. Registering a yoga school with Yoga Alliance means meeting quality standards for teacher training, education, and experience.
A yoga teacher at a gym or health club may also need to be certified in CPR and First Aid. All of these things should be taken into account when you look for a teacher.
Check Out the Studio in Person
Sitting in on classes disturbs the practice at many studios, so you are not allowed to attend. In any case, you are welcome to talk to the receptionist, a teacher, or even the owner of the establishment. Is the atmosphere welcoming and comfortable? Would incense or Hindu images bother you? Does music accompany the class or is it silent?
Observe the students coming and going. How many students are there in each class? How much personal attention will you receive? There can be as many as 100 students in popular classes at major studios in large cities. Generally, experienced practitioners should attend these classes.
The schedule and prices can be found on the website. Is there a class suited to your experience level? Are the times convenient for you? Are the classes affordable? Would there be a special for new students? Are there any community classes that aren’t so expensive or that are on a donation basis?
You should make sure that a teacher at your level and of the gender you choose is available. You can even take single-sex classes at certain studios if you prefer.
Experience All the Yoga Instructors
There are usually bios about the instructors on the studio’s website, including information about their beliefs and teaching style. Unless you have already attended their class and are familiar with their teaching style, this is just a guide for exploring instructors.
If you become acquainted with as many instructors as you can, you’re bound to find a teacher who meets your needs and inspires you. The instructor you find may even take you to other studios if you like them.
Listen To Yourself
You can visit a variety of studios and sample a variety of classes, but be mindful about how you feel before, during, and after the workout. Keeping going with your search is best if you don’t feel hurried or pressured. You might have struck gold if you feel welcomed, challenged, and generally warm and fuzzy all over.
Fine-Tune the Budget
Classes are offered at a variety of studios, ranging from community centers to trendy boutiques. Examine your budget and figure out how much time and money you can dedicate to yoga. Don’t rule out a studio that appears outside your price point just because it’s expensive. Some studios offer free classes in exchange for aid with cleaning and other tasks.
These tips should help you find a yoga studio you love – and a community that inspires you. Don’t be afraid to get out there and seek out a yoga studio that inspires you. All cities have their yoga scene and personalities. You might be pleasantly surprised at the difference in teaching styles in your new city if you just moved there and you might be pleasantly surprised!
When you find the right studio, your practice will ground and nurture you. You can use the mat whenever you need it. Your yoga home is wherever you are.