July 14, 2017

Choosing the right yoga class, yoga instruction

Photo: Phoenix Yoga Studio, Ringwood, Melbourne

Group, private or online: Exploring the different ways you can take a yoga class.

How do you take your yoga? Perhaps you have a weekly arrangement with your bestie to meet at your local studio for the ‘Vinyasa Flow’ class (then catch up over coffee!). Maybe you have an instructor visit your home for personal tuition. Or do you zoom home after the school-run, roll out the mat in front of your computer screen and dial up a virtual class through your online yoga subscription?

Just as there are several different styles of yoga there are many ways the modern-day yoga enthusiast can get their yoga on. Thanks to the wonders of an internet connection and the explosion of yoga’s popularity, you can literally take a yoga class that suits you at any time and any location! (Midnight yin yoga under the stars, anyone?)

Let’s explore the ins and outs of three popular delivery methods.

Group class.

Bricks and mortar yoga studios are often gorgeous, spa-like set-ups with a clean, crisp atmosphere, a soft colour palette, soothing lighting and a minimum of fuss. This zen-like environment aims to lull yogis away from worldly distractions; leaving just the practice to focus on. (Forget the yoga, sometimes it’s relaxing to simply be in a beautiful studio, right?)

Getting stretchy in a yoga studio setting provides an opportunity to mix with like-minded people and cultivate a sense of community. Plus, you can tap into the collective energy of a class - show up feeling a little blue or cranky and you’ll likely leave feeling better, having soaked the uplifting ‘yoga glow’ from both the practice, and the vibe of the group.

Studios will likely have a comprehensive timetable, so you can sample different teachers and class styles, giving you a broad experience to discover your favourite yoga flavour.

Averaging out at around $20 per class, group classes are usually the most economical way to experience a teacher-led class. Some studios offer pay-per-class options, or class passes which reduce the cost per class. Most will have all the gear you need too, so there’s no need to purchase any equipment.

On the flip-side, a group class means you’ll be one of a crowd. Faced with a room full of students, your instructor has limited capacity for personal instruction, hands-on adjustments or time to suggest adaptations specific for your body. Without the watchful eye of your teacher, there’s a chance you’ll feel left behind when following a sequence, or you may not be able to see the teacher clearly, which could lead to injury and frustration.

The number of yoga classmates will depend on the room size, popularity of the teacher, type of class and timeslot. If all these boxes get ticked simultaneously, you could be in for an up-close and personal, mat-to-mat situation with your new-found friends! Some may find this uncomfortable, particularly if you like a lot of personal space.

Private yoga class.

In a private class you get the teacher all to yourself in a class designed specifically for your body, addressing your needs, at a time and place suited to you! Private sessions give you an opportunity to have your yoga questions answered directly and may allow you to dive a little deeper into the practice. Your private class could take place in your home or in your teacher’s studio. You can even take private classes via Skype!

1-2-1 tuition is perfect for the studio-shy or when you want a thorough grounding in the basics before joining a group class. Best of all, private classes can sharpen your motivation and keep you accountable to your practice - there’s no excuses when your instructor turns up on your doorstep, ready for class!

Private yoga classes are the most expensive option, and there’s no ‘back of the room’ for you to hide in! You’ll love this delivery method if you feel comfortable with receiving 100% of the attention and are committed to working on your practice. (You may even get homework!) Bear in mind that if you invite the instructor into your home, you will need suitable space and privacy.

DVD/Online/digital class.

Fancy rolling out your mat for some yoga in your pyjamas? With the availability of on-demand online yoga classes and DVD’s, you can do just that, and in the privacy of your own space! Online portals offering a virtual smorgasbord of classes are the new kids on the yoga block. For an affordable monthly fee, you can pick and choose a class style to suit how you feel, how much time you have and select the instructor that you like. All you need is an internet connection and your laptop, tablet or phone! Practice on your own, with your family or invite a crew for a yoga-style pyjama party!

While super-convenient, screen delivered classes lack real-life connection and tailored instruction. No matter how experienced your online teacher is, they cannot see your body and assess how you respond to a pose. Hands-on adjustments and personal guidance are an important part of the yoga journey and are particularly beneficial for beginners.

So, which one is best?

Well, that’s up to you! We encourage you to be playful and explore lots of different avenues on your yoga journey. Try one or all of these methods. Perhaps one suits you for just a little while, perhaps you like a combination. There’s no right or wrong.

The best yoga for you is the one that keeps you inspired, connected and coming back for more!

How do you take your yoga? Let us know in the comments.

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