The benefits of practicing in a studio
Practicing yoga in a dedicated studio space has many more proven benefits than practicing yoga at home, but I still hear a lot of excuses from students as to why they don’t want to come to class! For some, they don’t have the time, the money, the transport, the motivation – and in some of these cases, I understand it’s not always possible (well, maybe not about the lack of motivation!). I’m a yoga teacher who owns a studio, but I’m human too!
But there are other alternatives I hear about, like practicing with a podcast or a video in the living room and self-practice on the beach or in the countryside. On one hand, if it gets you on the mat, great. Any practice is better than no practice at all. But let me explain why I believe it’s so important to hold your practice in a studio. Yes, running the Hot Yoga Ibiza studio is my business and my life so it is obviously in my best interest to attract more students to the studio, but I say this with the best of intentions.
First and foremost, there are no distractions in the studio. You walk inside and make a definite break away from your daily environment. You can leave all your daily stresses, worries, anxieties, excitements, gossip, chatter and thoughts in the changing room, as you enter a simple, uncomplicated space designed for pure concentration.
If you like to practice Hot Yoga or Bikram Yoga, there really is no substitute for the professional studio. Heating your home up to 40 degrees Celcius, with a high percentage of humidity just isn’t possible without the right equipment (and an enormous electricity bill), and without practicing this style of class in the right conditions, you won’t receive the full benefits. And in the studio, you won’t have to clean the sweat off the floor either!
Here there is no phone ringing, no Whatsapp pinging and no Facebook notifications to distract you because of course all our lovely students put their phones on silent and leave them in the change room. There’s no cat investigating your mat, no dog sniffing around your ankles and no neighbour or housemate peeking in through the window. There’s exactly the right amount of space to spread your arms and legs out wide, and here you won’t be distracted by noticing a speck of dirt that needs to be cleaned, or a load of washing that needs to be hung out mid-cobra.
Practicing in the studio means you will follow the sequence of the yoga class you’ve chosen exactly as it was intended to be. It’s no secret students skip the ‘hard’ poses, or the ones they don’t like when practicing at home, but this is not practicing yoga as it should be. With a teacher, with time, and with practice, you will eventually get there. By skipping them, you are cheating yourself of an authentic practice. Many asanas are designed to be eased into slowly – for example, the spine twist is featured at the end of the Bikram sequence because it relaxes all of your nervous system after the entire sequence. Your body is ready to receive this.
This leads us to the element of safety. When you practice at home with a video, there is no teacher on hand to look out for your safety. I’m not questioning the ability of the online teachers here at all, but if they can’t be in the room with you, they cannot make adjustments if you need them, and you risk injuring yourself. Your human, real life teacher will see if you are collapsing your ankle, if you are out of alignment, if you are hyperextending your elbows or if you are pointing your toes towards the wall instead of your face. I get to know my students very well, and am acutely aware of their strengths, weaknesses, abilities, flexibility and any injuries and can guide them as such.
When you practice on the beach, or in the countryside, or in your backyard, the issue of safety is once again raised. Sand, dirt and grass do not provide a stable foundation on which to base your practice. You run a serious risk of injuring yourself when you practice on an unstable surface. You need to find balance in so many asanas – how is this possible when the sand is sinking below you or your foot is wobbling on an uneven rock?
One of the most wonderful things about a studio practice is the shared energy of the group. You are surrounded by students with the same goal: to physically practice yoga for the next one and a half hours and to quiet the mind. If you feel nervous about others watching you or judging you, as many first timers have said to me, relax. Each student is so focused on their own practice, on connecting with their own mind, body and spirit, they won’t be bothered if you don’t know your asana from your elbow. But what you will receive is a sense of togetherness. Positive vibrations. And if you do happen to feel a little bit social, you might even make a like-minded friend or two.
When I created the Hot Yoga Ibiza studio, I put a lot of time, effort and love into designing a space that would bring many people happiness, peace and a safe place to practice. I am one of these people. I choose to do my own practice every day in the studio, not in my home. You will often see my own mat rolled out beneath our Buddha. I alternate between here and within the heated studio space. It is here where I can fully tune into my concentration, focus on my practice and start to really live my yoga, and I hope that when you come to visit us in the studio, you will be able to feel this too.