Checklist: What to Look for When Choosing a Yoga Studio
You’re finally ready to take the plunge and begin a yoga practice. Maybe you’ve already been practicing and you’re ready to find a “yoga hOMe.” Or perhaps you’re just curious what to look for in a quality yoga studio. Whatever the case may be, these days, there are seemingly yoga studios on every corner, so how’s a yogi supposed to know which studio is right for them?
Written from a yoga teacher and yoga studio owner, here are 5 must-have characteristics to look for in a quality yoga studio that you can call hOMe:
1. Certification + Credibility
The teacher’s certification and experience is a must. Any good yoga teacher will be completely transparent with their level of experience and training background. Before visiting the yoga studio, check out their website and read the teacher’s bios for their certification and where it came from. Bonus points for giving credit to the school and teacher they learned under.
This is also a great way to determine if your specific needs and interests will align with the teachers and studio – ie. whether it’s more of set type of yoga that’s being taught (if all the teachers have a Bikram yoga certification, for example), what type of teacher you’re looking for (with an impressive resume and list of accomplishments, or if you’re more concerned with their personality, etc.) and so on.
2. Class Schedule + Offerings
A schedule that is easy to understand, consistent, free of continuous changes and substitute teachers is important for many yogis. A well-developed yoga studio provides consistency for you, both through class times and teachers.
It’s important that those class times remain consistent and you have the ability to create a relationship with the same teacher that can understand your progress and help you excel in your practice.
3. Atmosphere + Experience
When you visit the studio for the first time, the teacher (and/or whoever is at the front desk) should introduce themselves to you and give you a tour of the studio. The studio should feel peaceful and be clean. The props (mats, blocks, blankets, etc.) should be easily accessible and available to support all levels of students.
What other offerings or amenities are important to you? Does the studio offer lockers or storage space for your belongings? Do you need shower facilities to get ready after class? Will you need to rent or borrow a mat/towel, etc. each time you practice? Consider what you need and then compare to that particular yoga studio’s offerings.
4. Once You’re in Class . . .
Now that you’re ready to practice at your new studio, there are a few things to look out for. For example, Pranayama (which is the Sanskrit word for conscious breathing exercises). If your teacher leads you through them before the physical poses, that’s the sign of a good teacher.
Next, how does the teacher interact with the students? Does s/he ask your name and inquire about injuries, areas you’d like to focus on, etc.? These are things that teachers should do to make their students feel welcome and supported.
Finally, music. Music can make or break a yoga class. What do you like out of a yoga playlist? Soft, calming background music, motivating, upbeat music to help power you through, or perhaps no music at all? Look for what resonates with you and gives you the most out of your practice (whether that’s the type of music, no music, etc.).
5. Teaching Style
Your practice time is not the teacher’s practice time. The studio you choose should have teachers that walk around and help students with their alignment. While it’s fine for a teacher to demonstrate a tricky pose, or parts of a more complicated sequence, the teacher’s main focus should be walking around and offering assistance.
Your teacher should skillfully be watching the placement of your hands and feet, or the way you might lean to one side in a given pose. Teachers are there to help you see what you cannot. They are there to help you create symmetry and alignment within your form.
I hope this has helped you wrap your head around some of the important things to look for when choosing a yoga studio. More than anything, you should feel like you are welcome, part of the community, and are being supported on your path.
After all, this is your body and your beautiful spirit that animates it. Your practice should be something that you look forward to, and your yoga studio should play a major role in supporting you through your journey.
Questions, comments, or experiences you’d like to share about your own journey to finding a yoga studio you can call home? Please share in the comments below – we love hearing from you!