Yoga is known to benefit the body and mind. Its benefits stretch far beyond the mat, and if you are new or experienced to the practice, you may wonder, are yoga classes worth it? You may like to practice at home instead of in a class. While there are benefits to independent practice, there are factors to consider before making your final decision. Read on to learn how to decide.
Yoga classes are beneficial for many reasons. Receiving hands-on correction for the alignment of asanas (poses) is vital in preventing injury. Social interaction and having an experienced teacher to motivate you are priceless. Online classes are beneficial if you are shy or short of time or money.
If you are weighing up your options between a yoga class or following a home practice, you may wonder how to decide which is best. Similarly, if you are considering taking up yoga for the first time, you have likely seen the hype and may wonder if yoga classes are truly worth it. We have the scoop on yoga classes and show you how to decide if they are worth it for you.
Are Yoga Classes Worth It?
Yoga is an inclusive wellness practice that originated as far back as about 2700 B.C.E. in India. The simplified form most studios teach in the United States focuses mainly on “asanas” or poses. While yoga poses are beneficial for many areas of physical well-being, yoga in its entirety is so much more.
Yoga is made of eight limbs. All qualified yoga instructors should be well-versed in all limbs if they are to instruct others in the correct path of yoga.
The eight limbs of yoga are:
- Asanas: poses
- Yamas: social principles
- Niyamas self-care
- Pranayama: breathing practices
- Pratyahara: withdrawing into oneself
- Dharana: meditation
- Dhyana: concentration becomes effortless and light
- Samadhi: a connection to the universe, meditation, and stillness
When a yoga instructor is knowledgeable about all eight limbs of yoga and practices them in their life, the class will likely be worth it.
Yoga has many benefits, both physically and mentally. Let us look at some of the benefits of yoga to assess if yoga classes are worth it.
The Physical Benefits Of Yoga
Yoga benefits the body and works muscles in ways that are not typically activated during other physical activities. The combination of stretches and strengthening poses means that your body engages in a unique workout it is unlikely to receive anywhere else.
The NHS has hailed yoga as a “safe and effective way to increase physical activity, especially strength, flexibility, and balance.”
Some of the astounding physical benefits of yoga include the following:
- Muscle strength and tone
- Balanced metabolism
- Weight reduction
- Increased energy and vitality
- Increased athletic performance
- Improved circulation
- Protection from injury
- Controlled and deeper breathing
- Digestive control
The Mental Benefits Of Yoga
Mentally and emotionally, yoga can play a vital role in increasing a positive, healthy outlook on life. If we look at the eight limbs of yoga, self-care, care for others, stillness, and a sense of being connected to the universe are a part of yoga practice.
Even by attending classes that focus entirely on poses, you may find that your mental outlook improves. You have taken time for yourself and are working to improve yourself through a peaceful, nurturing practice.
Some of the mental benefits of yoga include:
- A positive outlook
- Stress management
- A sense of connectedness
- Mental well-being
- Anxiety management
- The fostering of a positive body image
- The development of mindful eating habits
- Community involvement
- Building friendships with likeminded people
- Learning about and being respectful of different cultures
- Concentration enhancement
- A sensation of being grounded
- A heightened awareness
- A sense of gratitude
How To Decide If Yoga Classes Are Worth It
When deciding if yoga classes are worth it, it is best to weigh your options. Yoga has many benefits, both mentally and physically. Now that you know this, you need to decide if you would like to attend a class, do an online class, or follow a solo practice at home.
Let us look at all three options so that you can decide which suits you the best.
1. Solo Yoga Practice At Home
Many yoga students prefer to practice alone at home. This option is the cheapest, although it is only partially free of charge. The way to practice at home is to follow an online video, purchase an online course, or follow a book.
To practice alone at home, you will need to purchase a yoga mat, and various tools, such as a block, elastics, or other items your online instructor or author recommends.
It may be challenging to know if you are performing the poses correctly if you are a beginner. This is potentially dangerous and could lead to injury. It may be best to attend a few classes to learn the basics before continuing on your own if that is what you desire.
Pursuing a solo home practice also requires a lot of discipline and motivation. It is up to you to show up for your practice and to push through to the end, giving it your best every time. A serious plus of this method is practicing whenever it suits you. You do not need to battle traffic or make it in time. If you are having an off day, it is no trouble to reschedule your class to another day or time.
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2. Online Yoga Classes
Another option for yoga practice is to follow online classes. You can purchase an entire course upfront for a lower rate, or pay per month for live online classes.
A plus to this option is that you have almost as personalized classes as live classes without the awkwardness of being in a studio. Another great benefit is receiving yoga instruction from excellent international instructors.
The downside is that you do not receive hands-on correction for your poses, so you still risk injury. You will need to purchase your own tools, as with the solo yoga practice point above.
Luckily, there is no travel involved, and if it is a live online class, you may still enjoy the social element, even though it is via an online platform.
3. Attending A Yoga Class
Attending a yoga class in a studio is likely the most popular way to practice yoga. From beginner to advanced, yoga instructors offer lessons to suit different styles, tastes, fitness levels, ability levels, and preferences.
Yoga classes are definitely as varied as the instructors that teach them. To decide on a class, ask them what style of yoga they offer and what it entails. If you are a beginner, it is best to opt for either:
- Hatha yoga: this style of yoga focuses on physical poses and is usually done at a slow pace
- Vinyasa yoga: this beautiful style of yoga focuses on breath linked with movement
Although it can be challenging to fit attending a yoga class into a busy schedule, even one lesson a week can benefit your mental and physical health. Visit a few yoga studios and attend trial classes to find the teacher and studio that resonate with you. It is vital that you feel comfortable and at home at the studio you select.
The right yoga instructor and the studio will offer you valuable corrections on alignment and guidance and support to help you align your lifestyle, diet, nutrition, and energy with that of a yogi.
If you feel put off attending a yoga class by the possibility of being judged or looking bad, rest assured that yoga is not the place for judgment. It is the place to put aside the ego. Most dedicated yoga studios do not even install mirrors for this reason. Focus, instead, on yourself and improving your own practice. If others judge, that is their path to walk.
Attending yoga classes is more costly, but what you receive in return is priceless. Expert instructors provide hands-on correction to ensure you remain free of injury. They are there to make you feel comfortable, inspired, and motivated to attend.
By attending yoga class, you dedicate a set time each week to care for yourself and improve your whole self: body and mind. It gets you out of your daily routine, out of the house, and the stress of your regular life and places you in a calm, inspiring, encouraging environment for a short while.
Read my guide 6 Ways To Make Your Yoga Routine Actually Stick
Yoga as a practice has been proven to be worth it. Yoga is the go-to for hundreds of thousands globally for an overall body and mind workout, a stress reliever, and a way to find your happiness. Whether or not you want to attend a yoga class depends on your preference. Visit a few studios before committing to one and weigh the cost of lessons versus the value of what you will get out.