How Yoga Classes Fail & Why They’re Still Important
I’ll let you in on a most surprising secret. For many years, I stopped going to yoga classes. I stayed committed to my practice, don’t get me wrong. I just chose to practice at home, alone. Why, you ask?
Well, for starters, I didn’t really resonate with the types of classes that were available. For me, yoga has always been first and foremost a way of keeping mentally fit, not physically fit. But most classes out there always emphasized the “workout” or what I found to be a boring regime. Sometimes, I enjoy a heavy-duty sweat and endurance session, but generally, that kind of yoga just doesn’t do it for me. Years ago, it was a challenge to find a yin or kundalini yoga class, so I just used lots of videos, read, and stayed at home…in my jammies, even more comfortable than yoga pants!
Another reason I didn’t like going to classes was because of their size or the environment. Maybe it’s just me, but I really hate rolling around on a cold, filthy floor, and sometimes, classes were so large that it seemed pointless to be hidden in that crowd. I wasn’t going to receive any feedback, let alone a sense of community. It’s one of the reasons I am committed to keeping my classes small. (No, I don’t make as much money, but I’m in the business of quality not quantity.)
I also found classes a bit distracting sometimes, whether it was the voice of the instructor that set me on edge either due to tone or an endless stream of words, or their bizarre choice of music, or simply the pace of the class that barely allowed me to feel a muscle finally starting to elongate before being led directly into the next move. It all went too fast. At home, I could set my own pace and linger where I wanted…where it felt good. And I could relish the pauses and play my own music…or simply enjoy the silence.
And then there was the schedule. Sometimes, I simply didn’t want to go out at night or have to wake up for that early morning class. Practicing at home was a luxury that afforded me flexibility with my time.
Why am I, a woman who teaches yoga, presumably for a living, telling you all the ways that yoga classes can fail? Simply because it’s the sad truth.
But here’s some more truth. After many years of my at-home practice, when I finally decided to become certified to teach, it was only in the presence of teachers who knew how to teach and sharing in a group of unique bodies that I was made aware of the mistakes I’d been practicing alone. It’s fine to have a home practice, but it can lead to some serious blind spots. And if I’d kept on, I have no doubt I would be facing long-term injury in the near future. My training taught me all the places I was going past my edge, ignoring little signs from my body and doing things because I could, not because they made sense.
I am the first person to acknowledge that not every yoga class out there fits every person. They are each as unique as the people teaching them. But it is important to find a teacher who offers your preferred style of yoga and to work with him or her regularly. We “know stuff”, and that stuff can be the difference between a healthy practice or an ultimate injury. It’s worth the investment.
So will the yoga classes I offer suit you? I have no idea! I certainly hope so. The only way to know is to try and see for yourself. It might help to know that I am more in love with movement than exercise. I am equally in love with body, mind and spirit. I want to facilitate your own creativity and exploration. I want you to discover body awareness, and through that, an awareness of a truer self. I like options and doing new things in each (or at least every few) classes. I like sharing things that have helped my moods, anxiety, anger, and fatigue. I try to provide a tranquil and restful atmosphere, not a dusty, buzzing gym room. Sound good?
And hey, if public classes still aren’t your thing, I do offer privates. This is a great way to receive undivided attention, and you get to dictate music, pacing, and and practice elements. If that sounds lonely and you have a group of friends who want to try something with you, you can even arrange your own small group class on your schedule either in your own space or at the studio.