How To Choose A Yoga Studio
Here are some tips and tricks on how to choose a yoga studio.
What type of yoga?
Hundreds of variations of yoga have been introduced over the last few years but how to find the right one for you? If you have had zero experience with yoga, try basic or beginner classes. As the term – basic – suggests, the instructor will teach the class with the impression that the students have never practiced yoga before. He or she will guide you through the foundations of a safe and healthy practice regardless of whatever level you are at. If you are looking for something that’s more energetic and faster paced, go for Vinyasa Flow or Core classes which have more cardiovascular drills. If you want to be more familiar with the yoga poses before doing a fast-paced flow, take Hatha because it is alignment based and it will guide practitioners on how to get into poses, step by step. Try out different versions so you can get a sense of what suits you best.
Layout and Service
The design and layout of the yoga studio can affect our subconscious minds, similar to how the colours of the wall can instantly invoke a psychological reaction. I personally prefer studios with white walls and high ceilings because it gives me the impression of space and freedom. When you get right down to it, yoga is not only a physical practice but also a mental one so high ceilings promote visuospatial exploration and can encourage us to think and meditate more freely. Other factors that come into mind are the availability or accessibility of showers and toilets within the studio, whether there is enough storage to accommodate your belongings, whether the studio provides clean towels and linens and whether checking in is quick and easy.
Do you want to make friends and mingle with the yoga community – or – simply practice without any disturbance? If you want to expand your network of friends, maybe you should look out for a studio with a refreshment station and sitting areas where you can drink coconut water and fraternize. Last but not least, do you prefer bringing your own mat to class or simply just avoid the hassle of it all. There are many components of a yoga studio but it ultimately comes down to what you like and need.
Music or no music?
When I started practicing yoga, there was always some form of music in the background. It was either light chanting, workout music or white noise. That was what I was used to… until I moved back to Singapore and attended a few classes here. At the studio that I went to, the students depended only on the instructor’s voice for direction; nothing else. There was no music whatsoever in the background. It was odd initially but after attending more classes, I started to really appreciate the peace and tranquility of having no background music. It felt really good surrendering myself to silence and I truly felt like the world was my yoga mat. Others claim music is stimulating because it arouses and heightens their mood in class. Having music or having no music in class is ultimately a personal preference. Ask the studio whether they play music during class before attending one.
Spiritual or Secular
In yoga, we combine the union of mind, body and spirit. Some use it to meditate and find a sense of higher consciousness, whereas other take the spiritual element out of the equation and see yoga as only a fitness activity. When I first started yoga, I was receptive towards these spiritual elements because I understood that yoga stemmed from an old practice and the study of it is rudimentary for me to understand yoga’s history and philosophy. Depending on how you view it, yoga can be spiritual or secular.
Over the years, yoga has transitioned into a form of exercise that requires no faith to practice and reap its benefits. Many studios offer very light chanting and referencing of chakras very subtly – but – other studios remove any form of spiritualism to cater to the masses. Call the studio to ask them whether their classes have any chanting or spiritual references.
Whether or not you have a good experience with yoga will depend on your first class. I have to agree that sometimes it just boils down to luck on whether you enjoy your first yoga class. If your first class was crappy, there’s a huge chance that you will not look back or even try out another class. I was fortunate enough to find a yoga instructor who I truly resonated with while living in Los Angeles. He opened my eyes to the world of yoga and made me fall in love with it. Just be more aware of the fact that your first yoga class doesn’t equate to what yoga is like in general. There are too many variations of yoga (new ones popping up every now and then) and you might be surprised how a different variation would resonate with you more than the other. Also, don’t just go to one class. Try out a few before making any preconceived notions!