In this technological age, beginners are often choosing home yoga practice over studio classes. No wonder.
You must know the feeling of being “that new guy/girl” in a group class. When you enter, all the eyes are directed at you, and worse – when the room is already full, and there’s no place to squeeze your mat. Imagine that you did manage to cram yourself into the corner but have no idea what to do and what that weird language is because this is your first yoga class ever.
Sounds like a nightmare, right?
All the while, online yoga is as easy and accessible as never before. No need to commute with the bag full of props, no need for awkward social interaction with people when you don’t feel like it.
Though yoga at home could seem like the future, the choice between guided in-person classes and individual practice is not all black and white.
Thus, weighing the pros and cons of each should become an essential step in your mindfulness journey. Especially if you’re a yoga newbie.
Whether you're an expert or a newbie, this ultimate guide to yoga gear will help you choose the yoga props you need to take your flexibility, balance, and strength to the next level.
Table of Contents
Yoga is not just about performing some physical, mechanical movements. It involves a thousand-year-old history, tons of ancient scriptures, philosophy, breathing practice, and some serious mind work as well. Even if you're getting into yoga just for physical benefits, you won't be able to avoid other aspects all-together.
Sure, there's plenty of information online. But instead of finding it helpful, beginners often get overwhelmed by the amount of it.
Which poses and techniques to learn first, what to focus on, how to grow in your practice... these are just some issues newcomers are struggling with. Foundational yoga classes guided by professional instructors will give you answers to those questions. Plus offer well-structured solutions to build a solid physical practice and delve into spiritual roots.
Here's a paradoxical thing – our spines and bodies would rather slouch and curl instead of taking their natural form. Thank the modern office lifestyle for that!
As a beginner, you probably won't possess much body awareness. Seriously, you'll be surprised how often you think your form and alignment in the pose is fine when it's totally not.
Why is it crucial to cultivate the proper form from the very start? Well, remember the saying that practice makes perfect? You should understand that by practicing poor alignment and posture, you're not improving them but exacerbating instead. You're turning bad habits into muscle memory. And believe me, unlearning a bad habit is much harder than making it stick.
There's perhaps a no better way to develop right alignment and safe transitions between poses than to have a professional yogi looking over you.
True, yoga classes can get crowded. Instructors won't have the chance to offer corrections and individual attention for every single pose. But the general feedback, verbal cues, and suggested modifications now and then are precious for your learning.
Besides, you can always approach your yoga teacher at the end of the class with any questions regarding your goals, struggles, etc. and get a thoughtful solution to your problem.
A personal touch and insight is something that a one-way communication with the screen won't give you.
Learning the biomechanics of yoga movements at home requires an eye for detail, patience, and complete loss of ego. After watching too many flexible yogis online, we tend to forget that we are so different. What is natural to one body is not necessarily accessible to another.
Injury in yoga is a reality that doesn't get much attention. Whether it's sensitive wrists, hip pain or joint hyperextension, a yoga instructor will not only help you deal with personal limitations and past traumas but can prevent the development of new ones.
There's nothing like stepping into space where all the people are passionate about the same thing as you – yoga. By joining the class in-person, you get the chance to meet like-minded individuals, make friends, and feel yourself the part of a community.
In our highly isolated world, it's hard to overestimate the opportunity of leaving the house and connecting with others.
We all get motivated by different things. Some find the drive and strength in seeing people around giving their best and doing the same asanas. Others will think twice about slacking off and skipping a yoga class when they've already paid money for it.
The result is the same. You will probably manage to give your yoga practice more dedication and focus in a yoga studio than you'll do at home.
Besides, after spending so much time in a Photoshopped virtual reality of Instagram, being around real people of various body types, abilities, and experience is good for mental health too.
Whether we like it or not, money-saving is a big plus in favor of the home practice. Studio yoga classes are expensive. Besides, before you get a membership, there's absolutely no way to know if the yoga instructor in the studio is right up your alley.
Home yoga practice, combined with the magic of Youtube and streaming services, opens a new world of opportunities. You can change as many instructors as you want, try out as many yoga styles as possible - all at the click of the mouse and very often completely free of charge.
You are your own boss and instructor when you practice individually. You decide what your body needs at this particular moment and how creative you want to get in your practice.
Tired? Grab some bolsters and regenerate with restorative yoga. Need a boost of energy? Pump the blood in energetic Vinyasa class.
You decide how long to practice, when, and even where.
The freedom of setting up your own yoga schedule instead of trying to fit into the limitations of the studio is hard to beat.
Your home is an emotionally safe place, free from the judgment of others. There's no need to explain yourself to anyone, get worried about meeting new people and feel 'stupid' or 'bad' - the classic fears of beginners getting through the awkward 'what am I doing?' phase.
Yoga shouldn't be a competitive space. Reality is often different, though. It might be close to impossible to detach your yoga practice from the one of your neighbor. Especially, when you're barely surviving Sun Salutation flow while the person next to you is pulling off handstands.
Practicing alone can help you focus on you and yourself only, realize your needs and set the objectives for future growth.
If the stress of new social interactions and competition is not about you – then how about beating the traffic and wasting time commuting to and from your studio. Just thinking about it makes me sweat.
There's much debate about how a beginner yogi should start their practice. Some rave that home practice reinforces bad habits; others respond that studio classes lack individual approach and competent instructors.
Only there's no right or wrong way to do yoga. Because standing up and moving is already a great choice. It doesn't matter whether you decide to move in a specific place with other people or your living room.
The ideal solution for absolute beginners would, of course, be to combine both studio and home practice.
Learning the foundations of yoga is easier with a teacher. The second pair of eyes can help you with adjustments so you could feel the pose and engage the right muscle groups (rather than correct yourself by looking into the mirror). The ability of learning by feeling instead of learning by seeing will become invaluable in your practice.
If money is an issue, try searching for discounted or donation-based community yoga classes in your area. Monitor local events. It often happens that studios offer yoga classes free of charge during yoga festivals, promotional events, or as a part of yoga teacher training. Some studios also give away discounted or free monthly passes in exchange for a little bit of work.
If time and commuting is a problem, take private yoga classes or group classes once a week/fortnight. You will get the chance to focus on more advanced poses you can't do at home and ask for advice from a professional.
Whereas studio classes are good for structure and motivation, individual yoga practice can foster creativity and develop self-discipline.
Many beginners find doing yoga at home distracting. There's always an excuse to shorten the practice, a pet that impedes proper alignment and phone notifications that make you lose focus. Learning to deal with those distractions during your yoga practice is a part of the growth process.
The longer you focus on your breath instead of drifting away into thoughts, the less annoyed you are about the love-craving cat beside your leg - the more mindful you become in real life off the mat. The real life is full of distractions too, in case you haven't noticed.
Which is better for beginners: self-practice at home or studio classes? Share what you think in the comments!