We are a highly stressed, hectic paced, overworked society that is learning the great benefits of yoga to help us feel less stressed and more centered. That being said, gyms should be commended for their efforts to extend the benefits of yoga to more people. Many large nation-wide gyms such are jumping on the bandwagon and offering several yoga classes.
However, a gym class won’t always provide the same great benefits of a class at a yoga studio. Having previously taught multiple classes at a local gym, I find there is a very different feeling than studio yoga and that gym yoga might not be right for everyone. Now that I exclusively teach out of my own yoga studio, I find that my students feel much more centered and relaxed after the studio classes.
If you are a beginner at yoga you may want to consider taking some studio classes before you try the large gym classes. Yoga Studios usually offer smaller class sizes and more personalized attention to help students get the optimal benefit from the yoga poses. If you simply drop-in to a gym yoga class you may feel like the instructor is moving way too fast and you are feeling pressured to keep up with the rest of the class. The feeling of peer pressure may be exacerbated by the fact that most gyms have mirrors. Many yoga studios actually choose not to have mirrors because yoga is a very internal experience and the goal is not to keep pace with the person next to you. The goal is to find the pace that feels good for you.
In addition, it is important that your instructor knows of any injuries and/or physical limitations to advise you of any poses (asanas) that you should avoid or modify. That is challenging in the larger gym classes that often times have 30-40 students. Many times the gym environment is not conducive for the instructor to show modifications and alternatives to try if you have an injury that is still in the healing stage.
The gym is a great place to get a high energy workout, take an aerobic class and lift weights, but it is not an ideal location for a yoga class. To get the true benefits of yoga it should be done in a relaxing, non-threatening, non-competitive environment. I recall one time when I was teaching yoga at the gym and a gym member came into the class and starting punching on the punching bag. That experience along with other gym members peering through the window to watch the class doesn’t do much to create a relaxing environment. A yoga studio also offers more control over the lighting and music than a gym. Most gyms either do not allow the instructor to control the lighting, or the lighting is on a timer, neither of which is conducive to a relaxing experience.
If you have ever tried a gym yoga class and did not enjoy it, why not give a studio yoga class a try? Don’t give up on yoga just because of your gym yoga experience. Yoga classes at a yoga studio are a totally different yoga experience.
Yoga is more than just a class- it is an experience. A yoga studio will help you realize the true yoga experience.