If you know me, or read my blog, you know that yoga has become a big part of my life within the past year. This is largely due to the incredibly supportive and welcoming community of yogis I found at Studio Serenity, a vinyasa yoga studio in DC. Soon after beginning classes there last June, what began as a tentative interest quickly became a passion and then a neccessity, as vital to my life as eating and breathing. I became quite attached to the gentle, spiritual vibe of the place, as well as the challenging, yet informal teaching style. I felt especially connected to one instructor in particular, whose flowing sequences - infused with her warm, funny commentary -always seemed to be exactly what my body and mind needed.
One of the hardest things about moving to Annapolis was the realization that I would have to leave this yoga community behind since it would no longer be possible/practical to practice there.
I recently tried a yoga studio near our new place, and found myself disoriented and disappointed after the first class. I suppose this was to be expected on some level, as I had grown so attached to the style and environment of my old studio. However, it left a really bad taste in my mouth, and I don't think it's just because I was comparing it to the old one (though I'm sure that influenced my opinion). The instructor did not seem engaged with or connected to the rest of the class, but rather, seemed to be simply reciting a rote set of instructions. The sequences were totally unchallenging. Now granted, it was one of the easier class levels so I wasn't expecting anything crazy, but we spent almost the entirety of the class alternating between child's pose and sitting on our bums massaging our legs with tennis balls. Now there's a lot to be said for restorative (or yin) practice, but I do expect some kind of workout, especially when my monthly yoga membership costs more than my electric bill! The other weird part was that the other students seemed totally unengaged and were chatting, gossiping, and cracking jokes the whole time. Beyond being just...odd, the chatter totally threw off the energy in the room. There was no collective chi, which is really (in my opinion) a big part of why you would take a group class in the first place.
I don't mean to complain so much, but the whole experience really bummed me out, especially because I was so eager and excited to try a new place. The logical part of my brain told me to give it another shot (I had already paid for and committed to classes through September anyway), but my intuition told me that I should cut my losses and use it as an opportunity to start a home practice, something I've been wanting to do for awhile now.
Well, intuition won out, and I was able to get a partial refund on the rest of the classes. Very shortly after making this decision, I came across Sara's review of yoga DVDs on her blog, The Way of the Happy Woman (check it out if it's not on your radar yet!) and then, yesterday, City Girl's review of her Jade yoga mat. Inspired, I ordered two yoga DVDs (this and this) and plan to purchase a Jade mat soon. The funny part is this: I realized that the sum of these items is almost exactly the same amount (within a dollar) as the amount I was refunded for the rest of the yoga classes. I'm choosing to see this as a sign that this is the right decision for me right now.
My yoga DVDs are supposed to arrive today, but last night, I just couldn't wait any longer, so I did a sort of impromptu yoga practice on the living room floor, using a sequence I made up on the spot. It felt SO good. I'm even sore this morning (in a good way)! I was happy to find that I can lead myself through sequences and challenge myself even without the presence of an instructor. I'm so excited to try my DVDs and really get my home practice going!
All you yogis out there...do you have a home practice? Do you find it more or less difficult to practice at home versus at a studio? I am a little bit nervous about foregoing the studio experience for awhile (though I think it's the right choice for me right now for various reasons), so any words of wisdom would be mucho appreciated!