It seems as though there is a Yoga studio on every corner. Like coffee shops and breweries, they are popping up everywhere. How do you know which one is the right one?
There is no “Gym Factor”
A gym is designed to be noisy, sweaty and has multiple uses. A Yoga studio has just one: Yoga. You know you've found a good studio the minute you walk in the door. The space is clean, smells nice and is tidy. There are materials appropriate for a Yoga practice.
You'll see things like mats, blankets, straps, backless chairs and some bolsters. The space should feel like home. There should be a place to put your belongings (away from your mat), a clean bathroom (clean enough to walk into barefoot), and an immediate feeling of comfort.
There is no Yoga Show
The teacher at a Yoga studio is there to guide you as you practice. He or she has their own practice they do on their own, outside of the studio. We call this a “home practice.” This is how we prepare to teach and develop our skills. A teacher should be there to teach for you, not at you.
Your Yoga teacher should demonstrate postures in a way that appears accessible for you. They will be watching you while you practice and encouraging you to use tools, try something different or attempt something challenging. Like any good teacher, a Yoga teacher is there to offer knowledge, guidance and encouragement. As they demonstrate the poses, they are considering who is in the room and what they are able to do.
While practicing you should feel as though your teacher is noticing you just enough to help you feel safe while at the same time allowing you the space to focus upon your practice. You should feel as though every instruction given is meant for you to decipher and follow as appropriate for your body, state of mind and current status. In moments when you feel nervous or unsure your teacher will encourage you to try, to push your limit, to make an attempt.
You Learn More Than Poses
Yoga is more than poses. It is a lifestyle. Everything from the way you rise in the morning to they way you stand in line will be effected if you continue to practice. Your mindset, thoughts, ideas, questions, diet, breathing and daily movement will change.
A Yoga studio is a place for gaining knowledge. Your teacher should regularly use sanskrit terms (and explain them). They should tell you why the pose you are doing is important and how it connects to the others in the sequence. You’ll be told to breathe and move at the same time, and in a particular order. You’ll learn about everything from history to religion, science and mythology as your teacher explains the names of postures and the words being used during the practice.
While at the studio you’ll notice that everything has meaning. The plants, imagery, colors and more all fit together in a perfect puzzle designed to effect your senses and enthuse you to practice. Your teacher will explain how everything about the space creates a shift in awareness allowing you to detach from the world outside of the space.
There is No Competition
Yoga is a work-IN, not a work-out. The reason to practice is to reveal that which you do not see. Often, what we do not see is our authentic selves.
You might hear your teacher compliment you or someone else on your posture, form, prowess, etc. They are doing this to encourage you to keep trying, to keep growing, to keep practicing. What you won’t hear is your Yoga teacher shouting at you to “push harder,” “go faster,” “beat so and so.” Everyone is working from their own place and will move forward as appropriate. Yoga is not about getting sweaty or going until you puke. Yoga is a practice of deep understanding and awareness of your Self.
Your Guide is a Teacher
There is a big difference between a teacher, a guide and an instructor.
An instructor simply directs; they tell you what to do in a similar fashion to a drill sergeant instructing recruits. There is little emotion and a lack of connection. They give orders and instructions.
A guide shows you the way, but does not help you get there. Like any camp counselor they give you the tools and show you how, but don’t actually help you along the way.
A teacher can tell you what, why, how, and provide suggestions and corrections along the way. A Yoga teacher lives authentically. You’ll know this because of their behavior; they will be honest, generous, helpful, considerate, patient and ready to provide variations and support to help you access the postures, deepen your breath and increase awareness.
Seek out a Yoga studio that offers more than poses. Seek out a teacher who practices authentically. Seek out a practice that provides more than a work out. Learn to practice Yoga.
Join us at Lake Tahoe Yoga to learn more.