Are you ready to take the plunge and attend your first yoga class? Perhaps you’ve been practicing at home and want to explore the benefits of a class environment? Maybe you’re dipping your toe in and seeing if yoga is for you?
Whatever your reason for wanting to join a class, it’s important to pick the right yoga studio for you. With over 6000 established yoga studios in the US and news ones popping up all the time, it can feel like a hard decision to make.
To give you a helping hand, we’ve put together a list of tips and considerations for choosing a yoga studio.
Types of Yoga Classes
The first thing you need to consider is the style of yoga you’re interested in, as this will determine the type of class you take. Hatha yoga is popular with beginners and often taught in classes. It covers a wide range of styles and offers a classic approach to breathing and exercise.
Hot yoga classes, which incorporate Bikram and Vinyasa styles of yoga, have also become increasingly popular over the last few years and are commonplace at most yoga studios in the US. These classes are great for getting your heart pumping and your body sweating.
Alternatively, you may rather start with a slower pace of yoga. Yin and other restorative yoga classes focus on relaxing the body and learning meditation. The majority of poses are carried out in a seated or reclined position, using bolsters, pillows and blankets for support.
Don’t really know what type of yoga you’re interested in? Think about what you hope to achieve from yoga practice and do a little research to see which style matches up best. Alternatively, attend a variety of yoga classes and see which you benefit from the most. You’ll soon know when you’ve found the yoga type that works for you.
Do Your Yoga Research
Before signing up for a yoga class, we’d suggest doing a quick background check on the studio. Get recommendations from friends who practice yoga and read online reviews. You could also try asking for recommendations in local Facebook groups.
Most reputable studios will have a website, or at the very least, a Facebook page, which will tell you all about the classes they offer, along with the teachers that run them. It’s good to have a read up on the teachers to find out their level of experience, what training they’ve received and any certifications they have. After all, if you’re going to part with your hard earned cash, it’s got to be for someone who knows what they’re talking about!
Yoga Studio Pricing and Schedules
Yoga studios will either charge per class or offer some form of package or membership deal. A survey that looked into the pricing of yoga studios in the US found that classes held between 2017-2018 cost around $10-$30. Signing up for a package deal or membership will usually reduce the price per session but you may be tied into a contract for several months. Make some inquiries at yoga studios in your local area and compare prices to make sure you’re getting a fair deal.
As we said before, studios are popping up all over the place, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding one in close proximity to where you live. Choosing a yoga studio in a convenient location is important as if it’s tricky to get to or too far away, you will struggle to establish a regular yoga class schedule that works for you.
The same goes for costs, if the yoga classes or studio membership is too expensive and out of your budget, you’re unlikely to attend as often. Regular attendance is key to feeling the benefits from yoga practice. Remaining consistent with your yoga class schedule will also help you to build up a good relationship with the same teacher, who will support your journey and help you progress in your practice.
When you pop into a yoga studio to pick up a class schedule and inquire about the pricing, ask if you can have a quick tour to check out the facilities. It’s important that you feel comfortable in the environment and that it’s both peaceful and clean. Ask questions about lockers and storage space, as well as things like shower facilities, mats and towels. The more prepared you are beforehand, the more calm and relaxed you’ll feel when attending your first yoga class.
Some yoga studios may also offer trial sessions and introductory classes. These will be really beneficial, especially if you are not quite sure what style of yoga is for you. Attend as many trial sessions as possible so you can sample different types of yoga, teachers and settings.
Picking a Suitable Yoga Studio Class
Even if you’ve practiced yoga at home, followed yoga videos online or have some knowledge of the basic poses, we’d still recommend starting with yoga for beginners classes and see how you get on. It can feel a little different practicing in a group setting, as opposed to alone at home.
Be realistic about the level you’re at. If you skip ahead to an intermediate class, you may end up feeling out of your depth, which could put you off going back. Ease in gently and take it from there. The class you attend should feel manageable but still challenging.
You know your own body!
As you become more confident and capable in your yoga practice, you may want to try an intermediate class. This is why it’s important to choose a yoga studio that allows for this progression and doesn’t just focus on beginners.
Choosing the Right Yoga Teacher
Just as there are different styles of yoga, there are also different methods of teaching. It’s therefore essential you find a yoga teacher that you connect with and can really learn from. You need to like them as a person (outside of the yoga class) and feel safe and comfortable in their presence.
A good yoga teacher will listen to your needs and take the time to find out what you’re hoping to get from practicing yoga. They will walk around the class providing assistance (rather than shouting instructions from the front) and give you feedback for improvement. Experienced yoga teachers will understand that yoga practice doesn’t end with their class. They should encourage you to practice at home and equip you with the knowledge and resources to do so.
As a tip, we’d recommend turning up early to your first yoga class so you can introduce yourself to the teacher and let them know you’re a beginner (or whether you’ve tried practicing yoga at home.) It’s also important to tell them about any health conditions or injuries that could affect your practice. You may find that they modify some of the poses for you, so they relieve pain, rather than add to it.
If you’re looking for this more personal approach, we’d suggest trying out classes at a small, independent yoga studio, rather than a health club chain. Teachers at dedicated studios are more likely to be flexible in terms of the yoga classes they offer, tailoring them to meet the needs of their clientele.
Finding Your Yoga Community
As well as choosing the right teacher, you need to find your yoga community. After all, the people you practice with can influence the experience you have at a yoga class. It’s important to find a supportive and inclusive community that makes you feel comfortable and confident. You shouldn’t be worrying about what others think of your poses or whether you’re wearing the right yoga gear. It’s yoga practice, not high school!
If you feel uncomfortable and unable to be yourself, find another yoga studio.
Think carefully about what you want to get out of your yoga class. Are you looking for something more social, where you can potentially make friends or are you simply going for the exercise alone?
Some yoga studios have coffee shops, where you can interact with people after class and tend to be more social. Others offer short classes at lunchtime or in the evening, for those looking to fit yoga into their busy work schedules and don’t really have time for the social side of things. There’s no right or wrong answer, it’s about choosing a yoga studio and community that benefits you.
A final point to consider, in relation to finding your yoga community, is just how far you want to delve into the practice. Classes at dedicated yoga studios will often teach a holistic approach to yoga, where amongst other things, you will learn all about meditation, nutrition and spirituality.
If this is not something you’re particularly interested in, you may be better taking a class at a gym, rather than a dedicated yoga studio. Typically, the classes held at gyms place greater value on the physical side of yoga.
There’s a Yoga Studio for Everyone
What we hope you take from this post is that there’s a yoga studio out there for everyone. It’s just a case of deciding what you want to get from yoga and whom you want to surround yourself with.
Don’t be afraid to visit a few studios and get a feel for their classes. Trying out different styles and teachers is the best way to find the right one for you.
Do you attend classes at a yoga studio?
How did you decide it was the right one for you? Share your experience with others in the comment section below!