Gym vs. Studio Yoga

For about a month now, I have been going to yoga several times per week at my local yoga studio.  I love it! It has done amazing things for my mind and body. I think yoga is such a beautiful practice and experience in self-aceptance. When I first started yoga, I was surprised to see it was like a real workout. Many believe yoga to be just a bunch of stretching, but in the studio, my heart gets pumping, I sweat, and I can feel my muscles working. One of the guys at work says yoga is for girls, men shouldn’t do yoga. After the hot yoga class I took, I think yoga is for the strong; and girls are strong. There have always been men in the classes I have taken. The sweat and grunt their way through the difficult poses and work very hard. I certainly admire their commitment to a craft that silly people, like the guy I work with, think is emasculating. Studio yoga can be used as a substitute for the gym. Depending on the class, you can experience: cardio, ab workouts, strength training, and increased flexibility. Not to mention the flood of endorphins you get in the brain after a good workout. My favorite part about the studio yoga is the attention to detail in the atmosphere: electronic candles, smooth music, steam and humidity to achieve a detoxify sweat. Plus the amazing cool washcloths with essential oils to calm us while in corpse pose after a killer workout.

On Sunday, I went to a yoga class, with different friend from work, at her gym. It was nice to get together and do something fun outside of the office. For this class, we were in a gym that definitely serves many purposes. The first thing I noticed was that we wore shoes studio. There are no shoes allowed on the yoga floor in a studio, but because this room served multiple functions, we took our shoes off once we set up our mats. There were punching bags in the way of the side mirrors; this wasn’t a huge deal, but they did get in the way of me checking my form. The music was really cool, it reminded my of History’s Vikings. I don’t know the types of instruments used, but I certainly enjoyed it. Yoga uses the Sanskrit language, which I am not fluent in–duh. So when I do yoga at home, I tend to choose yoga videos or apps that use the English translation of the poses. Example: cat-cow or Marjaryasana-Bitilasana, downward dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana, corpse pose or Savasana. Studio yoga uses both the Sanskrit and the English translations while the gym class pretty much only used the English. I liked this a little better because I didn’t have to constantly be looking around or at the instructor about what we were doing. In studio yoga, the teacher demonstrates some moves but also does a lot of walking around to offer “hands-on assist.” I love this hands-on approach because I want to make sure I have the right form in order to reduce injury and expand my practice. Gym yoga didn’t do that, the instructor was at the front of the class exclusively, going through the motions with us. It isn’t my preference, but I know a lot of people would really like that. The type of yoga was similar to a yin yoga in that you get into poses and you stay for awhile, there wasn’t a lot of 1 movement to 1 breath like in more intense yoga practices. It wasn’t exactly yin yoga either, we weren’t in each pose for like 3 minutes. I would say this yoga experience wasn’t not a workout substitute, it was a nice add on to whatever else you are doing on your fitness journey. My final thought was on the demographics of the class. I’m sure this is dependent about the time of day and what day it was, but there was only one man there, that I think was gay. All the rest were women, young women. I would say all of us were between our 20s-30s. At studio yoga, there are only ladies and young ladies, middle aged ladies, young men, and middle aged men. I’ve never seen old men at yoga, I think the oldest I’ve seen was probably in his 50s. The point is, I can see where the guy at work gets the idea of yoga being for girls, if he only sees people doing yoga at the gym.

I think both experiences are fine. Like with anything in life, you need to know what your goals and abilities are. Obviously, it is easier to get to yoga if you are already at the gym. It is cheaper to go to yoga if you already have a gym membership. That’s actually a really important point to make: studio yoga is not cheap. You are defiantly paying for all the cool perks like cool washcloths with essential oils, hairspray in the bathroom, and a fireplace in the waiting area. I would recommend if you are new to yoga, to check out your gym’s classes and eventually move on to studio yoga, if you would like to really expand a yoga practice.

I hope you enjoyed this post, in the comments below let me know your thoughts on the different types of yoga you have experienced. Have a sparkly day!

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