By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP and Faye Martins
Around the world, Yoga has moved from private studios to large, mainstream gyms as its stress-relieving body benefits become known to the general public. Is the move to the mainstream good for Yoga? How does gym Yoga compare to Yoga practiced in a Yoga studio?
About the Mainstream
To answer both of the questions above: Yoga enjoys worldwide popularity in almost every country. Yoga has met all the expectations that practitioners were looking for. The move to the mainstream has gone well. In many cases, medical and scientific studies verify Yoga as an adjunct therapy, but teachers are advised to delete the word “cure” from their vocabularies. Never make a promise you can’t keep is the best advice for Yoga instructors.
Now, the comparison between Yoga in a health club or a studio is based on atmosphere. Entering the world of “24-Hour Fitness” and similar health or fitness clubs have changed this age-old practice. Among them, some of the most striking are listed below.
A strictly limited period for Yoga sessions. Most gyms have a tightly packed schedule for their group fitness areas, and squeezing in a Yoga class usually means a one-hour maximum time slot. Savasana may be sacrificed in the name of putting away props before the next step of class starts. Starting and finishing classes on time are extremely important in a health club.
Emphasis on “Yoga for fitness” to the exclusion of all other benefits. Practitioners are encouraged to attend to elevate heart rates or stretch muscles; focus and clarity of mind may be ignored altogether. The official policy of the club may overrule practices, such as mantras and hands-on adjustments to postures.
Unlike traditional Yoga studios, which are quiet, dimly lit, and typically feature cloth wall hangings or inspiring prints, the gym studio most often has mirrored walls. Brightly lit, music from neighboring classes or nearby fitness equipment may be audible. In many cases, the lights cannot be dimmed.
In classic Yoga studios, students mesh well with a Yoga teacher and return for ongoing, progressive instruction. Members choose from a potpourri of fitness classes in a gym setting and change options frequently. Yoga is part of the menu and is not always appreciated as a health maintenance system within a fitness club.
The popularity of yoga has exploded in recent years, with more and more people of all ages and backgrounds turning to this ancient practice for its many benefits. One of the most popular new trends in yoga is “gym yoga,” which combines traditional poses and breathing exercises with a more dynamic, fitness-based approach.
Gym Yoga Is Here to Stay
There are many reasons why gym yoga is here to stay. For one, it’s a great way to get a workout while also enjoying yoga’s mental and emotional benefits. Additionally, gym yoga classes are often shorter and more intense than traditional studio classes, making them a perfect option for busy people who want to fit yoga into their busy schedules.
Health Club Yoga Tips
If you’re thinking about trying gym yoga, there are a few things to remember. First, wear comfortable clothing that you can move around in easily. Second, don’t be afraid to modify the poses to suit your fitness level – the point is to have fun and feel good, not to push yourself too hard. Finally, remember to breathe deeply and focus on your breath throughout the class – this will help you relax and get the most out of your gym yoga experience.
Despite these drawbacks, the influx of Yoga to sports complexes is not without benefits. First and foremost, the availability of Yoga in gyms means that more Americans are familiar with the practice. According to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) report of 2009, there are 45.3 million gym members in 29,750 health clubs across the U.S. Many of these individuals may have been unfamiliar with Yoga before seeing it on the group fitness schedule. Many who enjoy the gym Yoga setting move on to take a class at a neighborhood studio.
Teaching Yoga at a gym may also offer instructors a predictable weekly source of income and supplement a private studio. Gyms typically pay instructors per class rather than per student, making budgeting easier. Teaching at a gym can also be a good way for a new Yoga instructor to get established in a new city or area. The facility usually provides yoga mats and props, so no start-up costs are involved.
Breeding Ground for Creativity
Gym Yoga classes may also be ideal for testing new styles or fusions of interest. Attracting new students and keeping interest levels high can drive an instructor to continue professional development. Competition for class enrollment levels may keep you on your toes as an instructor, which is never bad.
Are New Styles Bad for Yoga?
There’s no one answer to this question since there isn’t a single definition of what yoga is. If we’re talking about yoga as physical exercise, then new yoga styles are nothing to worry about – in fact, they may be just what yoga needs to stay relevant. However, if we’re talking about yoga as a spiritual practice, then introducing new styles may be seen as diluting the ancient tradition and making it less effective. It really depends on your perspective.
From a purely physical standpoint, new yoga styles bring students to classes – they keep things fresh and give people more options to find a practice that suits their needs. On the other hand, if you’re more interested in the spiritual side of yoga, you might be concerned. After all, are these new styles missing the traditional roots. It’s important to remember that yoga is historically flexible, adaptable, and it will continue to evolve. So whatever your opinion is on new styles, just remember that yoga is going to continue on its path of change.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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Teaching yoga at a gym can be a good way for a new yoga instructor to get established in a new city or area. Nice comparative article.
Well written, Dr. Jerard! Gyms have definitely influenced more people to try yoga and hopefully they will find the right class type / instructor after being introduced to yoga at a gym. I find most yoga studios so much more relaxing and inviting than the bright, mirrored gyms, though. My hopes are that the students will be more likely to visit a yoga studio after the intro to yoga in a gym. It would be hard for them to gravitate back to a gym yoga setting after experiencing the setting of a yoga studio. Great article!
I instruct a weekly yoga class of my own at a local church. Recently, I was asked to substitute for a fellow yogini at at Fitness Facility. Paul, you hit it right on! The noise level was high, with music blasting from outside the room, made it a little difficult to let go and really get into the yoga. Big windows allowed view of the machines and people working out, and allowed for them to peer in while class was in session. Luckily the lights could be dimmed, and the music system was nice. We were surrounded by mirrors, basketball nets, and piled up steps, and weights.
Time was an issue, as it was an hour class, absolutely effecting savasana. At the end of class, a few did stay to chat, but outside people are anxious to get in and start playing basketball, quickly changing that relaxed atmosphere we just finished up in. Because the class is included in membership, people have a more “entitled” attitude instead of “grateful” attitude, sometimes arriving late or leaving early. On the other hand, people are more likely to give it a try, and it does make yoga more affordable, as individual classes, done at least 3 times per week, at a cost of only $5.00/class would cost $780, and I challenge you to find a yoga class for $5.00/class.
I agree with you there are definite Pros & Cons. I’d like to see the fitness centers create a separate room dedicated to just Yoga.
Thanks for the article!
In present, Yoga has moved from private studios to large, mainstream gyms and Gym Yoga classes may be the ideal place to test new styles or fusions of interest. Nice sharing!