How to Choose the Best Yoga Studio for You
When you decide to choose a yoga studio, you’ll likely have tons of questions and absolutely no idea where to begin. There is no shame in it; we all start somewhere.
I may not know how to fix your car or help you to solve your son’s algebra problem, but when it comes to choosing a yoga studio, I’ve got your back. So, follow the steps below to find the right yoga studio for you.
Tips to Choose a Yoga Studio
1. Determine Your Why
Before you even go on the quest for the perfect studio, first determine why you want to do yoga. This will narrow down your choices and help you find the best fit.
Pour yourself a cup of coffee (or tea, or kombucha, or, well, anything you wish), journal about it, or simply take a couple of minutes to ask yourself a few questions:
- What do I want out of this?
- Would I like to break a sweat and get in shape?
- Am I recovering from an injury?
- Do I have a very demanding job and would like to lower my stress and anxiety levels?
- Would I like to work more on my strength or flexibility? Or both?
- Am I pregnant and would like to take up a form of mild exercise?
- Would I like to have a deep spiritual practice?
- Do I want to follow exactly the same sequence each time, or would I like to have something new during every class?
- Would I like to do yoga in a heated room?
- How spiritual would I like my yoga classes to be?
Or perhaps you just want to try something new? That’s perfectly fine, too.
Figure out what you’d like to gain from this experience, and this will help you determine which type of yoga you should opt for and choose a yoga studio.
2. Choose a Type of Yoga (or a Few)
Once you know why you want to do yoga, read up on its various styles. Yoga has branched out considerably throughout the past few decades, and there are numerous classes to suit different needs.
Knowing what you want will not only help you to choose the most suitable type but also know what to expect and what to wear.
In broad terms, yoga falls into two categories – fast-paced and slow-paced.
Some types of yoga, like Ashtanga, Bikram, and Sivananda, follow a set sequence: you’ll do the same thing every single time you come. You may find it boring and frustrating, or, on the other hand, organized and meditative.
Other styles will offer different postures and sequences every time.
Classes that involve “flow” will be fast, and you’ll move from posture to posture in a sort of dance-like manner. You’ll get your whole body moving and will work not only on your flexibility, but also strength, balance, and endurance.
Styles such as Yin and Restorative Yoga will be very slow and will involve lots of seated and reclined postures. You’ll primarily develop flexibility, and the long periods of time you’ll spend in the poses may drive you mad or will do wonders for your stress levels.
Hot Yoga and Bikram are done in a heated room, while Kundalini will be very spiritual with less emphasis on postures, but lots of breathing exercises and chanting.
Some yoga studios will also have Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga for future and new moms, respectively, and some will even feature classes for moms and babies to take together.
If you’re still at a loss, go for gentle Hatha (which will give you an insight into the slower styles), Vinyasa (which is an example of a more vigorous class), or something like Yoga for Beginners. Get a feel for those, and you should have a better idea of what you like.
3. Search Within Your Area and Budget
This may seem obvious; however, choose a yoga studio in an area that’s convenient for you and decide the price range you’d be willing to allocate monthly for yoga classes.
In order for you to reap the benefits of yoga, you should make your practice a habit – at least once a week (though I’d suggest twice). You may sign up for the best studio in town, but it won’t do you any good if you drop out because you have to get out of your way to get there.
As far as payment is concerned, yoga studios usually offer monthly subscriptions, passes that include a certain number of classes, and drop-in classes where you pay separately for every class you attend.
Any type of subscription is generally cheaper than singular drop-in classes. Some yoga studios may also have donation-based classes, where you pay as much as you can.
If you are interested in not only yoga but also fitness, you can look into local gyms which offer yoga classes. You can get a membership and attend yoga in addition to other classes that it offers.
Keep in mind though that yoga won’t be the main focus in gyms. Therefore, there may be lots of outside noise like music from other classes, machines, etc. This can be rather distracting.
4. Ask Around
Asking around is another good way to get intel on local yoga studios. Ask your friends or colleagues whether they do yoga or know anyone who does.
Or, go get your hair trimmed or your nails done and strike up a chat with the staff attending you. They get to talk to a lot of people in their job and may know something.
Pay a visit to local juice bars, health stores, organic restaurants, or similar. Treat yourself to something nice and, as a matter of fact, ask if they can recommend any good yoga studios or teachers in the area. Yoga and a healthy diet go hand in hand, so, there’s a chance they’ll have something to share.
Even if you walk away with zero valuable information, you’ll have gotten your hair or nails done or had something delicious. Relax, you deserve it!
5. Do Your Research
In this era of everything digital, most yoga studios have a website and social media channels. Make a list of convenient studios and go online to check them out:
- How long have they been in business?
- What are their values?
- What types of yoga do they teach?
- Do they have any reviews or testimonials?
- Apart from yoga classes, do they organize any events that you may be interested in? Workshops? Masterclasses? Yoga and brunch events or similar? These can be excellent to try new things and meet likeminded people.
- Who are their teachers?
- Are they certified?
- How long and what types have they been teaching?
- Have they been training with someone significant?
- Do they have any other additional qualifications or skills, such as yoga therapy, Prenatal Yoga, Ayurveda, bodywork, etc.?
- Can you find their social media channels, such as Instagram? This can be a great way of learning more about their teaching style and personality.
As you read through the information, you may come across a few names and acronyms:
- Yoga Alliance is a non-profit organization and the largest in the yoga community. It provides yoga teacher trainings (YTT) worldwide.
- RYT signifies Registered Yoga Teacher. Teachers will have passed either a 200 (RYT-200) or 500-hour (RYT-500) courses which cover yoga philosophy, asana practice, anatomy, pranayama techniques, and, depending on the yoga school they were trained at, also other topics.
- If you see E-RYT next to a teacher’s name, then they have taught over 1000 hours.
- RYS next to a school’s name means that the school is registered with the Yoga Alliance and provides Yoga Teacher Trainings.
6. Pay a Visit
After you have settled on a studio or a few, drop by to get a feel for what it is like to be there.
What is the atmosphere there like? Is there any music playing? How about the decorations and lighting? Is the place modern or organized in traditional Indian fashion? How do you feel about it? Is the incense smell too much for you or do you absolutely love it? Ask if you could see any of their classrooms.
Talk to the receptionist or someone in charge and pick up the studio’s schedule. Is the staff kind and friendly to you? Do you feel welcome there?
If you settle on the studio, you’ll be coming regularly and will spend a couple of hours a week there. If there is something you don’t like about it, it’ll likely keep bothering you; so, choose a place you feel comfortable and at ease in.
7. Sign Up for Introductory Classes
Let the receptionist (or, well, whoever is in change) know that you’re interested in taking up yoga and ask about their introductory or drop-in classes.
Be honest about your level, even if you have never done any yoga before. You may already feel intimidated by the public image of yoga and the last thing you want is to be placed in a class that does not suit your level.
If you’re unsure about what exactly you want or are completely new, ask if you can try a few classes instead of just one. Yoga studios usually offer one free introductory class, but you can pay for singular drop-in classes.
Trying a few classes will give you a perspective on different styles and teachers and help you to choose a yoga studio that meets your needs best.
If possible, try the same style with several teachers, as you may have a completely different experience with each of them.
8. Choose a Yoga Studio that Best Meets Your Needs
Once you’ve tried a few classes, preferably at different studios, go back to the questions you asked yourself in Section 1 and see how well the studios fit in with your “why”.
Also, take into consideration your experience there, such as the number of students, pace, use of props and modifications, personality and voice of the teacher, whether or not they used music and adjusted you and others, and how you felt during and after the class.
And, finally, chose a yoga studio for one that you personally prefer. Don’t just follow a trend or someone’s suggestion. Listen to them, sure, but make your own personal choice based on your preferences.
Yoga is a spiritual practice of self-discovery, and the place you’ll practice it at will determine how it’s going to go. Plus, it can help you to meet and make friends with like-minded people and become a part of a community.
What If You Don’t Like Anything?
Despite the growing popularity of yoga, there still is a chance that you may not find anything you like. It’s possible and has happened to me.
If that’s your case, you still have options. You can hire a private tutor, take Skype yoga classes, or start a home yoga practice where you can practice by following online classes on YouTube or IGTV, subscriptions, DVDs, or other programs or materials.
Did these tips help you to choose a yoga studio? Are there any other tips I have not mentioned? If so, feel free to share them in the comments below.
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