Yoga at a Studio, or Yoga at a Gym?

People who want to practice yoga have a choice, and in most respects, it boils down to individual preference. Oftentimes, a person looking to start yoga is not aware of the differences between yoga that is taught at a yoga studio, versus yoga taught at a gym or fitness center. One might think that ‘yoga is yoga‘, however this isn’t always the case. If you are on the fence, and not sure where you want to take your first yoga class, or if the yoga class you’ve been going to doesn’t quite suit your needs, please consider these following points.

AFFORDABILITY:
You get what you pay for. It is more expensive to go to a yoga studio. Small studios have large overhead, and bear the expectation of offering yoga exclusively, whereas gyms end up being less specific and more of a one-size-fits-all kind of environment, which gives them volume and numbers, and cheaper rates. Gyms are able to offer a lot of choice, but as a result, have less control over the quality of those choices. Classes at yoga studios are taught by highly certified instructors who’ve dedicated large amounts of time and money towards their certifications — these people deserve to be paid fairly. Also, at yoga studios you have access to workshops, intensives and seminars, and other things ‘yoga’ (ie: Kirtans, meditation groups, breath work, and other spiritual aspects). These extra offerings are not cheap, especially when taught by specialized, guest instructors. (Most yoga studios will offer pay-what-you-can classes where a portion of the proceeds are given to charity. This option makes practicing at a yoga studio affordable for even the most shallow of pockets.) Gyms commonly employ instructors who’ve attended weekend trainings, open to anyone, and the certifications are handed out to everyone who made it through the day. Worst case scenario: you’ll come across teachers whose training is limited to taking a class or two and/or watching a few videos online!! If this is okay by you, I’ll say it again… you get what you pay for.

 

TYPE OF INSTRUCTION:
What kind of a student are you and what do you expect from your teacher? Do you value progression and improvement or are you simply looking to stretch out your body? Do you appreciate having specialized instruction and modifications for your ability, or are you okay with general instruction that may or may not apply to everyone in the room? Are you concerned with the longevity of your yoga practice, or are you dangerously forcing yourself into poses that could potentially cause strain and injury? Are you even aware that there are many layers and variations to all yoga postures and it’s about making the pose fit your body, rather than the other way around? Do you know that ‘yoga’ isn’t just limited to a physical practice? Are you looking to get in and get out, or do you prefer a class that is longer than 30 minutes? At a yoga studio, you can expect a teacher to weave in a theme, a piece of writing, or other elements that encourage reflection, deeper thought and/or spirituality. And you’ll be asked to breathe, a lot. Going inwards makes some people feel uncomfortable, and it’s unlikely that you’ll be asked to do any of this kind of stuff at a gym. Be warned, if your instructor ‘skips’ Savasana, they aren’t teaching yoga. True yoga teachers know that this is the most beneficial part of the physical practice.

 

ENVIRONMENT:
Is it a fair assumption that those with a gym membership are looking to lose weight and build muscle tone? Can we at least agree that Ego plays a large part in this type of ‘body beautiful‘ fitness? Yes, yoga classes are offered at gyms, however, your class will be taught to the majority — those who want to lose weight, tone their body, and look good. Also, at gyms there tends to be a level of disrespect for the class structure as a whole (or perhaps it’s just ignorance); it’s common for students to arrive late and/or leave early. At a yoga studio, you’ll be asked to arrive on time, stay through Savasana, and please leave your Ego at the door… and this is where the really juicy stuff begins to happen. You’ve likely heard of people who’ve felt an energetic release, immense relief from pain of past injuries or general wear and tear from life, a deeper connection with them self or another person, people who cry in class…among other things you might call ‘hippy-dippy woo-woo‘. Let’s be honest, are you wanting to do some stretches that look like yoga poses, but you don’t want to do the ‘weird stuff‘? Then a gym is probably the place you want to be. And that is completely OKAY. Just don’t say that you do YOGA. 

 

COMMUNITY:
At a yoga studio, you will probably meet people who are just like you, or at the very least, people who are much more similar to you than the general public. Gyms, on the other hand, house people of all sorts. This is not to say that all aren’t welcome at a yoga studio. I pride myself in saying that we offer our services to anyone who wants them. It just turns out that those who want our services, are similar kinds of people; people who are willing to tune out external noises, and listen to their own body, their own breath and their own thoughts. It’s scary, it’s vulnerable, it’s meaty. And so worthwhile. Over time, yoga will begin to feel more like a lifestyle, and so much less about the physical poses and the ‘cool factor’. And when you’re surrounded by people who are there for similar reasons, you’ll feel an immense sense of trust, safety, and support. 

As an owner of a yoga studio, I’m faced with many challenges my ‘pre-owner self’ wouldn’t have anticipated. I find myself analyzing these challenges, and I try to look at them from many angles. Through this process, I am better able to define what it is that WE offer, and as a result, we can better serve the needs and wants of those who have chosen a yoga studio setting. Primarily, we sell yoga. We offer high quality instruction, from certified teachers. Our students have the benefit of personalized attention, and a variety of modifications, which makes any given class safe and suitable for many levels and abilities. Our space is clean, it’s quiet, and for the most part, we are an adult specific facility. (We do have Kids’ Yoga once/week, as well as an All Ages class where our younger yogis can attend with an adult.)

Truth be told, if you want to learn French, go to France. If you want to learn yoga, go to a yoga studio. (Yes, I’m biased.)

Over the years, I’ve come to see that many people who are interested in some form of yoga, and delve into the practice, will eventually crave more of what yoga has to offer. Not all yoga is the same, however, no one’s life path is the same either. I see gym yoga as a gateway. In fact, I include gimmick classes like Beerga and Goat Yoga (which I’ve reluctantly offered) in this realm as well. My stance is that whatever inspires and encourages a person to try yoga for the first time, lends itself to the greater offering of yoga. Gradually, sitting still and tuning inward will get less and less uncomfortable. And it won’t be long before the noise of the screaming kids, and the bouncing basketballs, and the distraction of those latecomers won’t be okay. And your gym yoga won’t be enough. You’ll have questions, and you’ll be searching. And us yoga studios will be waiting for you, with open arms and our themes and our deep breathing and our OMs and our Savasanas and our Namastes… and you’ll feel perfectly at home.

This article was partly the inspiration for my writing today… “Don’t Call It Yoga”. Here’s my favourite part, and I encourage you to read the full thing. I found it quite comical, and to the point.

A peaceful mind creates a healthy, vital body. A body forced into asana as part of a workout can damage and strain the body, and inflate the Ego; both of which can cause a chaotic mind… By all means do yoga postures and exercise your Ego, but don’t call it yoga!

 

 

*Disclaimers:

I’ve taken the liberty to speak in general terms with this article. It is rare, but you will find wonderfully talented (and fully certified) instructors who teach yoga classes at gyms/fitness centers, and consider yourself lucky. And, when you eventually find yourself wanting more than gym yoga… make sure you ask this teacher which yoga studio(s) he/she teaches at!

We are primarily a yoga studio, however we do offer variety by way of dance and Zumba classes. And you can bet that these instructors are held to the same high standards as our yoga teachers!

I’m very aware that us ‘Westerners‘ have bastardized Yoga altogether., and I’m pretty certain that everyone in the East is pointing judgy fingers at ALL of us.

Ultimately, I can’t blame uninformed students. I was completely clueless about yoga when I first got started. The responsibility falls on facility owners. Please don’t claim to sell yoga if it’s only a watered down version just to get more clients or appease your current clients, or to appear trendy, or to offer something you think people want. Get informed and take the proper steps to do it properly if you do indeed want to sell it, or better yet… stick to selling what you DO know.

 

A Downward Dog Lesson: Blue Yoga Mat by Tracy Fitzwater

TracyThe yoga practice I usually attend is the Tuesday/Thursday Basic class. I occasionally enjoy a Yin class, which I like, and I’ve even showed up at Power classes a few times. My comfort zone is in the Basics class, and a recent practice highlights why I stick with this class.

We were moving through our practice, which included a few downward dogs. I’ve written about my relationship with this pose before, but I’ve gotten to the point where I feel fairly confident about it, and don’t feel too anxious when we are moving into it. My arms have quit quivering in downward dog, and while my heels aren’t as close to the mat as I would like them to be, I generally feel good about hanging out for a few rounds of breath. As we were coming out of the pose, Jenny stopped to talk about the nuances of downward dog. She asked for a volunteer to demonstrate how moving up into her hand, which she placed on the small of the back, improved the pose. The volunteer, on the mat next to mine, made the comment that when she moved up into Jenny’s hand, the pressure she had been feeling in her arms was relieved, and her legs took the weight, which made the pose easier to hold. Luckily, Jenny was able to work with each of us individually, so we could see for ourselves what a difference it made in the pose when our core was put to work to bring our hips up, and keep us there.  It was interesting to watch the difference it made when this happened, and to see the height change in the pose. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but it made an impact on my thinking that day.

It seems sometimes that certain poses are to be endured. Once I start wondering when it’s going to be over, I know I’m not breathing smoothly, and I usually start doing a body scan to see where it’s starting to hurt the most. I also realize that once that starts to happen, my form probably stinks, because I’m out of alignment, or just don’t have the strength to get back to the right form. By taking a workshop approach, and taking the time to work individually with us, I have a better understanding of what I need to do for both my own comfort as well as the intended form for downward dog. I like having my instructor break the pose down into components, and talk about how it should look and feel.

Downward dog is staple of a yoga practice. It is a pose that you will end up in several times, with variations thrown in for good measure, three-legged dog, for example. Good form will help prevent injury, but maybe even more than that, will improve confidence. It was a good lesson to learn.

New KIDS Yoga + Hip Hop Series Starts April 7th!

Kids' Yoga + Hip Hop! (April to June)

 

We’re committed to finding best arrangement for the Kids program and we’ve decided to go back to Fridays this next session. It’s rather confusing behind the scenes with the pricing structure, so let me know if you reach any obstacles when paying online. (To register for all 12 classes, click on either link. It’s one in the same.)

Kids Yoga w/ Chelsea April 7-May 12
Ages 5-9: 3:15PM
Ages: 9+: 4:15PM

Kids Hip Hop w/ Jenny May 19-June 23
Ages 5-9: 3:15PM
Ages: 9+: 4:15PM

*Confirm your interest with registration.
*No drop-ins; children must sign up for the 6 or 12 week session

KIDS Yoga: register here 

KIDS Hip Hop: register here

Yogiversary!: Blue Yoga Mat, by Tracy Fitzwater

TracyIt’s interesting to take note of the events in our lives that we commemorate or celebrate. For example, I have a wedding anniversary in December. We celebrate birthdays, and we remember when people leave us. I commemorate July 1 – my official retirement date. Lots of people keep calendars marked with the dates that mean something to us, and are pretty good about reaching out with cards, calls, or some other way of connecting to our people. I don’t have a firm date for my Yogiversary, though, but I know it’s general date – late December, 2014. I walked into Poser Yoga, and I haven’t looked back!

I’ve been going to yoga for almost two years, and it’s only been in the last few months that I’ve started to think of this as my yoga practice, as opposed to showing up at yoga. I’d like to think I’m getting better, and then I have a practice that makes it clear, at least in my mind, that I’m not getting better. I try not to let those days get me down. I had that happen a couple of weeks ago – one day was frustrating, creaky, and shaky, and two days later, I felt as though I was moving through the flows with very little difficulty. Why is it like this? I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who has these blips, but they are frustrating.

I’ve come a long way in two years, and I have to be able to shake off the frustrating practice and the negative self-talk that can come when I’m rolling up my mat. Isn’t it like that with most things that we celebrate or look at over a long span of time? The trick is to focus on the positives and improvements, and look at the frustrations as ways to improve and move to the positive side. I haven’t always been a glass-half-full person, but I can see that I am more there than I was.

Two years of yoga. It’s almost hard to believe, but I know I am still a beginner in this practice! I have some goals, including putting my feet flat on the mat during downward dog, and doing a complete Wild Thing – both sides, and coming back to downward dog. I know my breathing has improved, and I can rely on myself to be conscious about my breath. Yoga is working for me, and I want to continue to become better at my practice.

So, it’s happy Yogiversary to me. There won’t be a card or a dinner out, or even a card to celebrate my second year of yoga. It’s satisfying to look back and think about a year’s worth of practice, though, and know that yoga has had a very positive impact on my life. And it’s good to know I’ve got more time on my mat in the future.

CageworX + Poser YOGA’s Peanut Butter Drive for the PA Food Bank!

15542228_10157970777395714_1290893263731806534_nBeckie Tunstall brought us 20 jars, on behalf of our local Subway! This donation helped us to SURPASS our goal of 100 before our deadline, so we UPPED THE ANTI!! Our new goal is 150 and today is the last day to collect for our Port Angeles Food Bank Peanut Butter Drive! Please help us help those in need!! Thank you to our communities, both from CageworX MMA and our Poser YOGA family!! You guys have rocked this food drive and many families will benefit from your generosity!

peanut butter drive!

Unlimited Summer!

This summer is going be sizzlin’! And with all that you’ll be up to, you’re going to want a chance to wind down, center yourself and stretch it out! (So you can get right back out there again!)
 
Have you seen this steal of a deal??
 
Unlimited Summer Yoga $199
June, July + August
(that’s $66/month!)
 

Upcoming Progressive 6-Week Sessions at Poser Yoga!

Gentle Yoga for Seniors Jan to MarchGentle Yoga For Seniors
with Midge James
Wednesdays
2-3PM
January 6th – February 10th
$55/6 classes
Register ONLINE here

Soft, supported Yoga poses, designed for the elderly, or anyone else requiring very gentle movement and/or modifications.

-Improve strength + flexibility
-Relieve muscle stiffness
-Alleviate anxiety/depression
-Increase mental clarity and focus

FYI: Our Gentle Yoga for Seniors is nearly SOLD OUT for the January/February session. We’re accepting names for our wait list and looking to create a second class during the week if interest remains high.

KIDS' Yoga! Jan8-Feb12KIDS Yoga
with Chelsea Dwyer
Fridays
3:30-4:15PM
January 8th – February 12th
$50/6 classes
Register ONLINE here

Children learn mindfulness, sharing of space, listening skills and traditional Yoga poses in an interactive, playful and artistic environment.

-Develop interpersonal skills
-Practice co-ordination and develop mind-body awareness
-Respect the space of others
-Experience the benefits of being still and quiet

TIBETAN YOGA beginner series (1)

Tibetan Yoga for Beginners
with Travis Riemer
Saturdays
11:45-1PM
February 6th – March 12th
$70/6 classes
Register ONLINE here

Harmonize your breath and relax your mind with combinations of traditional Tibetan Yoga postures, movements and breathing techniques.

-Warm your body and loosen your joints
-Calm your mind
-Purify your body’s energy channels
-Prepare for meditation and contemplation

 

KIDS Yoga in January!

 

KIDS' Yoga! Jan8-Feb12

We’ve added our next session of KIDS’ Yoga classes, set to begin on January 8th! Through play, Yoga poses, music, and art, kids develop strength and flexibility, they share space with others and they explore the benefits of being still. The skills they learn on the Yoga mat, no doubt transcend into their daily lives! For now, we’re still focusing on the 5-9 age group, and we want you to know that we have every intention of adding a class for kids aged 10-12, as soon as we’re able to!!

If you’d like to give your child the chance to experience the many benefits Yoga, please click here to register.

Read last month’s article titled ‘Why Yoga?’.