There are many questions plaguing new yogis. How long does it take to “get good” at yoga? Do you have to be flexible? Is downward dog something you teach your pooch? And finally – should you do yoga at home or at the studio?
I wish I had a straightforward answer. Wouldn’t life be easier if I just told you exactly what to do?
Alas – I can’t. To quote the psychologist in me: You, dear reader, know best. You’re the captain of your yoga journey. Your preferences, your rules!
The truth is, no article, podcast, or well-intentioned advice from your yoga-obsessed friend can tell you where your yoga journey should unfold.
But that doesn’t mean you’re on your own.
While I can’t give you a definitive answer, allow me to guide you through a brief journey of self-discovery so you can make the best choice for yourself.
Yoga At Home: Intimacy, Freedom, And All-Day Pajamas
For many, home equals coziness and comfort, where the dress code includes pajamas and the freedom of not worrying whether you look silly. Practicing yoga at home provides an atmosphere of intimacy, freedom, and control. It means you can flow at your own pace, on your own terms.
- Convenience and Flexibility — Yoga at home gives you the flexibility to practice yoga whenever you feel like it and whenever you have the time. Early in the morning, late at night, or quick 15-minute sessions between meetings, you’re free and in control of your practice.
- Personalization — Doing yoga at home means you get to tailor your sessions to your abilities and preferences. My favorite practice was following a 45-minute intense Ashtanga session, which I would pause when I felt tired to play a guided savasana from another teacher I loved.
- Privacy — For those who ever felt like a fish out of water seeing everyone around them attempting wheel pose, in a feat of flexibility that equaled scenes from The Exorcist, the privacy of the home is a sanctuary.
- Affordability — There are plenty of free yoga videos online, and even subscription yoga websites are more affordable than studio memberships. Considering these fees or the cost of money, yoga at home is the best option for those on a tighter budget.
- No Pressure — One of the goals of yoga is to help you relax and improve your mental health. However, for people who struggle with social anxiety, the thought of going to a yoga studio could be a trigger that nullifies all the other benefits.
But like any good thing, yoga at home comes with its own set of challenges and peculiarities.
- No External Push — The flip side of freedom is the ever-lurking temptation to swap yoga for a Netflix binge or skip it more than once. So, if this is your weakness, knowing someone expects you to show up would be more effective motivation.
- No Feedback and Guidance — Without an experienced teacher keeping an eye on your movements, you might miss out on helpful corrections. This is especially useful for beginners.
- Isolation — Practicing alone could get lonely. The online yoga community is vibrant and provides a lot of support, but if you want more socialization, you may prefer the personal and direct contact of yoga studios.
Who Would Enjoy It The Most?
Are you someone who cherishes solitude, the freedom to spontaneously decide when to practice, and occasional morning sessions in pajamas? Perhaps you’re someone who has a tight and unpredictable schedule and can’t be tied to specific class hours. Or, you want the flexibility to craft your own personal yoga sessions.
If you identify with any of the above, yoga at home may be just the thing for you. It’s also great for those on a tighter budget, those dealing with social anxiety, or those who live in areas without yoga studios.
According to a DYWM student:
“I love the DYWM teachers and also respond quite well to their verbal cues; I don't like having to leave my house every time I want to do yoga; I prefer doing it on my own schedule and changing it up based on the needs of the day. Like today I'll do it at 5pm, tomorrow 10am, or whatever. That sort of thing.”
Yoga At A Studio: Personalized Feedback, Socializing, And Collective Energy
Practicing yoga at a studio can feel like stepping into a sanctuary. The studio, with its ambient lighting and the soft hum of synchronized breaths, offers a unique, immersive experience.
However, you need to consider the practical aspects as well, such as location, offers, costs, and conflicting schedules.
- Structured Environment — For those who need external help setting up a routine, the studio’s regular classes, scheduled for particular times, offer stability. There is no need to plan anything or choose anything – you just need to be there on time and listen to the teacher.
- Professional Guidance — In studio classes with fewer people, you may get immediate feedback and correction from your yoga teacher. A watchful eye can be a godsend, especially in tricky poses and for beginners. Keep in mind, however, that many studio classes have 30-50 students, so personal feedback is rare.
- Community and Social Interaction — The studio is a melting pot where people can share experiences, make new friends, and feel a sense of belonging.
Enriched Experience — The ambiance, the specialized equipment, the music, and the smell of burning incense are a draw for many.
- Cost — Membership fees keep rising. Add to that travel expenses, and you may discover an uncomfortable dent in your account. The reality is that not everyone can afford it or want to spend so much on a hobby.
- Time and Convenience — Fixed schedules and commuting can be a drag, especially for busy people with lots of responsibilities.
- Limited Offers — Practicing yoga at a studio implies finding a class that meets your needs and preferences. Time, style, teacher… Aligning all that can be tricky, especially in smaller towns.
- Social Pressure — Group settings can be daunting, and those super-flexible yogis can be intimidating. Not comparing oneself with others is easier when practicing alone.
Who Would Enjoy It The Most?
Studio enthusiasts are those who thrive in a community, find joy in collective movements, and appreciate the physical presence and feedback of an experienced instructor. People who struggle to get on the mat on their own would also benefit from a set schedule and the presence of others to motivate them.
If you’re drawn to structured schedules, enjoy mingling with other yogis, and find solace in a dedicated, quiet space away from home distractions, a studio environment will probably match your energy better.
The Hybrid Approach: Best Of Both Worlds
To put it lightly, I am not a fan of forced-choice questions. They’re really powerful in limiting your mindset.
For instance, pitting yoga at home against yoga in a studio implies two things. First, it makes us think of these options as mutually exclusive, and second, it makes us think we have to choose only one of them. We don’t!
You can practice wherever you want, however you want, and however much you want. So, why not ditch the duality of the titular question and embrace a hybrid yoga journey?
Embracing a hybrid approach means you get to enjoy the structured guidance and communal vibes of in-person classes at a studio while also reveling in spontaneous, personalized sessions at home that fit your shifting schedule. You can have your samosa and eat it, too.
When you have the time and energy, you can join in-person group classes, and when you don’t, you can select a class that fits your style and time constraints and practice in your living room.
Who Would Enjoy It The Most?
I’d say the majority of people would enjoy a hybrid approach the most. Most of us don’t just want to stay at home or just go to the studio – we are somewhere in between. Sometimes, we want to do yoga in the comfort of our living room. Other times, we crave the atmosphere of in-person classes and the personalized feedback of an instructor.
In any case, variety is good. Take me, for instance. I love doing yoga at a studio until it becomes too much. Then, I practice alone at home until I start feeling lonely. Then…well, you see the cycle.
If you find joy in both solitary and communal practices and wish to blend the structured guidance of the studio with the freedom of your home, a hybrid approach would work well for you.
Choosing The Site Of Your Yoga Journey
The quest to find your ideal yoga setting is a very personal one, and introspection is the main tool that will illuminate your journey. When choosing between the solitude and convenience of a home practice and the vibrant energy of a studio, consider your personality, lifestyle, and external limitations.
- Personality and Preferences — What type of person are you? Adapt the practice to your lifestyle, not the other way around. If you want to commit to your practice in the long run, you’ll need to enjoy doing it.
- Goals and Motivation — Why are you practicing yoga? What’s your main goal? Some things are easier (and safer) to achieve with an instructor, though not impossible to do at home. An example would be getting into tricky inversions, like handstands.
- Lifestyle and Schedule — At the end of the day, what’s most practical for you? In other words, what’s more sustainable in terms of your rhythm and routine?
- Budget — How much are you able or willing to spend on yoga? Remember – there’s free yoga in the world, so that money will never be an issue.
The Floor Is Yours
So, what’s the verdict? Comfy living room yoga in front of a laptop or studio yoga next to a sweaty, sticky human? Just kidding, not trying to influence your decision!
Remember that there are no right or wrong choices–it’s all about finding what resonates with you. Don’t be afraid to try out different things, as you might surprise yourself once you get into the groove – at home or in the local studio.
The most important thing is to enjoy.