Speak to almost any long-term yogi, and you’ll soon discover that they have some form of regular home practice. I say almost any yogi, because I definitely do the vast, vast majority of my practice in a studio. As a yoga teacher who prefers studio practice almost exclusively over home practice, I definitely fall into the minority.
Practicing yoga at home is something many many yogis enjoy, and it’s not my intention to s*** all over it in this blog post. And it’s certainly not about sorting yogis into binary categories, or judging how people decided to practice. Even I’ll enjoy a home practice sporadically, and for some it represents an essential, exciting, and engaging way to practice.
I can imagine that if you feel like you need to explore your body and mind in a more private, personal setting, and can do so safely (with some studio practice with an experienced teacher under your belt), then practicing at home must be super appealing.
Not to mention other obvious benefits: saves you time (I know a yogi who puts out their mat beside their bed when they go to sleep, and literally rolls out bed and onto their yoga mat), and saves you money (especially if you’re not on an unlimited membership).
But it’s just not for me.
Granted, I’m in a privileged position: I’ve, um, never paid for a regular yoga membership. I was a karma yogi, and then a yoga teacher, both which include unlimited free classes (space permitting). But there are plenty of yoga teachers with unlimited studio classes available that still choose home practice as their main practice.
Here are the big reasons I prefer a studio practice:
I love being taught by other yoga teachers
Yoga teachers are rad. Not only are they (prepare for a sweeping generalisation) some of the nicest people around, they know how to crack a joke. Being taught by as many different teachers, as often as possible is not only good for my personal practice, but also for my teaching (and indirectly, my students). Going to another teacher’s class I discover new things, re-discover old things I’d forgotten, and get inspired with fresh ideas of my own. Practicing in a studio is a form of both personal and professional development for me.
I’m lazy. (No, really.)
I honestly work harder, and with more integrity in a studio class. I engage more muscles, stretch with more safety, and breathe more deeply. With someone else guiding me, I’m more alert to keeping my joints safe by avoiding hyperextension, and am more considerate of my injuries. I work more closely to my edge, because I know there’s a teacher in the room whose got my back, supporting and encouraging the class every step of the way. When I practice at home, too often I find myself taking shortcuts with postures and sequences, relying on joints when I should be engaging muscles, holding my breath when it should be flowing. This evaporates for me when I step into a studio.
Studio communities are incredible
Hands-down the biggest thing I miss when I don’t practice in a studio. I’m not a hugely social person, but I love the social communities that spring up in and around yoga studios. Yoga people are not dicks. They are amazing, and from all walks of life. Practicing in a studio enables me to socialise with these awesome, non-dickheads in a casual, relaxed way that I’m super comfortable with. Whether it’s the teachers, new students, regular students or my husband (we often don’t see each other all day until we meet at the yoga studio at night, so it’s valuable time for us to spend together), I soak up the chilled vibes of the studio’s community like a sponge.
All this being said, every person is different, and what works for one may not work for the next. But that’s the beauty of yoga: you come as you are, and it lets you take what you need.
Do you prefer practicing at home or at a studio? Do you regularly do both? I’d love to hear your experiences.