Where do you yoga?
There is a significant difference between a gym and a yoga studio. It's been a while since Oxford has had a studio dedicated exclusively to yoga (and related contemplative practices.) So... let's talk about the reasons why someone would choose to go to a yoga studio instead of a gym?
The gym environment can be noisy, not as relaxing, and more generic with other distracting equipment or props in sight. With space intended for a variety of group fitness classes, you won’t get the same atmosphere, specialized props, and aesthetic experience you get at an intimate yoga
studio. Most large gyms are filled with harsh fluorescent lighting and the loud sounds of banging weights and gym equipment. Gyms are intend for many types of physical activities, and they can’t replicate the environment that is most conducive to deep yoga practice.
Yoga is a spiritual practice that incorporates a variety of meditation techniques, cultural traditions, and breathing exercises. To experience this authentic type of yoga, a studio is the better option. The studio space is designed to cultivate relaxation, put one at ease, and allow students to feel transported out of their day-to-day activities. With dimmed lighting, relaxing music, aromatherapy, and a larger focus on the cultural tradition of yoga—a studio offers a deeper connection to your practice. There’s no question in this category. If atmosphere is important to your yoga practice (and likely, it should be), it’s far better to practice at a dedicated local studio.
#2 YOUR INTENTION FOR PRACTICE
This different, more specialized class environment will attract different types of members who will be alongside you. Typically, at a yoga studio, the students are more serious about their yoga practice, and are more invested in integrating yoga into their daily lives.
Also, at a studio, it is easier to find smaller, multi-level classes to accommodate the different stages of practice that a practitioner goes through. At gyms, most classes are similar, and progression or regression in practice after a certain point can be difficult.
Teachers at a yoga studio are invested in the growth of their students' practices, and are offered the freedom to take their classes into new and exciting postures and practices.
If you just want to come in and do a set routine each time, to "get a good workout" the gym option may be the best choice. However, if you're looking for a practice that will evolve with you over time, support you in your life off the mat, and provide room for personal and physical growth, choose a yoga studio!
Often at gyms, teachers are limited in their teaching due to policy. Many gyms don't allow yoga teachers to teach certain postures or spiritual components of the practice due to liability issues. However, at a yoga studio, there are no such limitations and practice can be truly authentic and powerful.
Also, yoga studios pay teachers better than gyms, and more experienced teachers often gravitate towards teaching at studios so they can teach without being bound by policy (and to make more money!) Becoming a certified teacher is not cheap. Serious yoga teachers will spend money out-of-pocket throughout their lifetime to continue their own education. Yoga is a lifelong practice that cannot progress without the guidance of a skilled and dedicated teacher. The best teachers are also permanent students on the path of yoga. Great teachers will go the extra mile to help you get the most out of each class.
Many of the instructors at large gyms don’t focus on the practice’s spiritual aspect, focusing more on the postures. In large metropolitan areas, the best and most talented yoga instructors will usually be found at studios vs gyms. Gyms are a great place for teachers to get started, to learn how to teach the basics, and to become accustomed to speaking in front of a group. Instruction will be more intimate and thorough in a yoga studio. However, gym classes are great for anyone who wants a casual, fitness-oriented yoga workout.
Studio classes have a more intimate community set up for connection. Once you become a member at your local yoga studio, you will see familiar faces regularly and build strong friendships.
On the contrary, students at gyms tend to be less committed to a true yoga practice as it involves incorporating the philosophical principles. These principles go far beyond only working out and are the core concepts of a meaningful life. If you are looking to connect with fellow students on the authentic path of yoga practice, choose a yoga studio.
Yoga studios build a community of practitioners around them, whereas at gyms it is harder to build small intimate communities because of the sheer number of people coming and going. The experience at a smaller studio is generally more personal in nature. The advantage of having a community of practitioners around you is that it will help you grow in your own practice, understand more, share experiences, support each other, and be involved in a lot more with minimal effort.
When choosing between gym yoga or studio classes, the number one factor is how serious you are about your yoga practice. Having a membership at a gym is an excellent option for those who like attending the casual yoga class while also using the other amenities at the gym — like equipment, pools, and other types of group fitness classes. Yoga at the gym is also usually cheaper all things considered.
A yoga studio is best suited for those who want the full experience of yoga, including the practice’s spiritual aspects. Instructors here are usually more qualified and are dedicated students themselves which helps to form a strong community.
The benefits of taking classes at a yoga studio are:
Highly qualified and dedicated instructors
Deepen your practice beyond just fitness
Meet like-minded students and build community
Escape from the grind with a relaxing atmosphere
Choose from more types of yoga, special workshops and events
As a teacher, I have taught in a variety of settings: gyms, corporate settings, private residences, in retail stores, at breweries, in outdoor spaces and even in my own living room. I've taught private yoga and I've taught gym classes of more than 50 people per class. I created OCY because my very favorite place to teach is hands-down in a yoga studio. OCY is my dream teaching space. It's easy to get to, but out of the hustle and bustle. There is plenty of parking. It's airy, earthy, intimate and comfortable. I feel free to teach authentic yoga without worrying if someone will be offended by my use of mantras or worrying if I gave the group a "sufficient workout." I hope you'll choose the yoga studio environment to grow in your practice and become part of our growing community of earnest and dedicated yoga practitioners. 🕉
Jai Bhagwan, my Friend!