Is there a right way or better way to practice yoga? Of course there is! The way that suits you best is the right way to practice. Some prefer to practice at home, others prefer to attend classes at a studio, and many do both! If you are contemplating how to incorporate yoga into your lifestyle, or how to expand your current practice, read on!
Benefits of Home Practice
Cost Savings: One of the obvious benefits to a home yoga practice is financial. Drop-in studio yoga classes cost between $10 and $20 per session. Or, in order to get reduced fees, studios often offer monthly membership options. These tend to run $150 and up, depending on your city. Our experience comes from Vancouver, Canada. For examples, see here or here.
The entire collection of Namaste Yoga is available for under $150 – less than the cost of a single month at a studio! And those 27 sequences have kept many viewers busy for years. Yoga DVDs with fewer sequences or with a lower production value are also available at even cheaper prices.
With all the money you've kept in your pocket, you may decide to enhance your home by creating your very own yoga space and unlike restrictive monthly memberships, you can make these investments on your own time schedule, so your wallet gains some flexibility as well.
Time: How long will it take you to reach the nearest studio? Practicing at home means not having to fight traffic to get to the studio. Yoga classes typically last an hour to 90 minutes. By the time you factor in your commute, you may be looking at as much as two hours of your schedule devoted to your practice. The average sequence on a yoga DVD is 20-40 minutes, and the distance to your home yoga space can be covered in a matter of minutes... you're likely to have found your state of bliss in less than an hour!
A home practice also allows you a lot more flexibility in when you practice. Maybe 7am and 6pm aren’t the best times for your yoga practice! With a home practice you can begin your practice at 6:21am, if that is the ideal time. There is no need to plan your life around someone else’s schedule.
Solitude: A home practice means your space is your own, both internally and externally! With no classmates nearby to compare yourself to, you are better able to tune into your body and your abilities, with no need to try to keep up or compete with the yogi on the mat beside or in front of you. While you will still experience the guidance of a yoga instructor through a DVD or even the books and articles you read about yoga; you afford yourself distance from the personal ideologies of the instructor. With other voices taking up less space in your own mind, there is room for your own personal philosophies to grow and develop.
Customization: With a home practice, you are better able to tune into the needs of your body and adjust your practice to suit those needs. You can choose what sequence and poses will be of most benefit every time you practice! You can change the time of day you practice to suit your schedule, and even control the environment in which you choose to practice. Online resources and networking make it easier than ever to connect with more experienced yogis and educational sites to help expand your practice. The Namaste Yoga community is ever-growing, and we will always be honoured to support your practice.
The Benefits of a Studio Practice
Live Instruction: Probably the biggest benefit to a studio-based yoga practice is the hands on instruction from a trained yoga professional. If you have lots of questions and really don't like doing research, it may be easier to have someone available to answer your questions in real time. If you seek personal instruction and attention as you practice, be sure to find out how many attend the class before you sign up. A yoga instructor will try to watch your alignment and expression of the poses as they teach, but yoga teachers are only human: in classes with 20+ students you might not get that much individual attention! An instructor provides you an external vantage point and can inform you if your alignment is correct.
Camaraderie: Yoga is a great common interest to base a new friendship on! You may meet some inspiring people in your yoga class, and the experience of practicing together and sharing your impressions can create a lovely foundation for a lasting friendship.
Commitment: If commitment to your fitness goals is a quality you are striving to improve, having a set date, time and location can help you stick with your practice. Paying your monthly membership feels may make you feel more obligated to attend class regularly.
Space Allocation: If your home seems too crowded or chaotic, or you just need to get out of it every once in awhile, a yoga class may be the perfect option for you! You may initiate your practice sooner if you are not waiting to get the time or ambition to clean out your spare bedroom to create your yoga space; and getting to class regularly may mean you gain energy and motivation to tackle those big projects after all.
Which leads us to...
The Benefits of Both
Who says you have to choose? Variety is the spice of life! If you have the time and financial resources available, you can create a yoga practice that has both home and studio elements. If you’ve always practiced with yoga DVDs, you might enjoy going to a studio class every now and again to get an ‘alignment tune-up’. (You may even want to splurge on a private class for that!) Alternatively, if you maintain a studio practice but sometimes have days where you just can’t get to the studio, you can fall back on your home practice.
And yoga DVDs are a great way to take your practice with you when travelling! If a question comes up when you are on your own, you can always ask your instructor at your next class. They will be thrilled you are practicing at home, as you will then be better prepared for their class! On a similar vein, if a question comes up in your studio class, but you don’t want to ask the teacher, you can always ask us about it on our Facebook wall. We’ve heard it all – and no question is too silly!
The Right Decision for You
When looking to begin or expand a yoga practice, it is important to take into account the journey that is almost inevitable with consistent practice. Be aware of where your mentality lies, and where you would like to see it go. Any yoga instructor, be they in a classroom or on a DVD, comes complete with the knowledge gained from his or her own sadhana journey, and those experiences are bound to influence yours. With these realizations in hand, and the aforementioned points carefully considered, you can make the most informed choice about how, when, where, and with whom you choose to practice yoga.
We are all different, with different goals and preferences. Remember, yoga is about YOU. So tune into your needs and make sure you get the maximum benefit from your practice.
What do you guys think -- do you have a preference for at-home or studio practice? Do you do both? Do you have any other questions that we didn’t address in this guide?
We hope to hear from you!