Why I love Teaching Yoga In Gyms
Sometimes the hype gets pretty thick around yoga. With so many different styles to choose from and places to go to practice. And yep, things can get a touch combative about what kind of yoga is the best or even what is real yoga. Well down dog it – why are we arguing about yoga, of all things!?!? Namaste that!
It is disappointing to me that yoga in gym falls under negative fire. Often being put down and even being blamed for the ruination of yoga! There is ample room for yoga in studios, gyms, schools, offices, parks, airports. The list goes on… I want to step forward and point out how great yoga in a gym can be.
While I love practicing yoga in yoga studios with the blowing curtains, pretty colors and lights, serene atmosphere, and wafting patchouli incense…. Mmmm. I sincerely adore practicing in gyms too. You can find expert instructors in both places. What’s important is getting on the mat and following the breath. Take that journey inward through body/mind connection.
I have a very fond memory of a yoga teacher saying in her beginning of practice centering comments – “For some of you, your yoga mat is the one and only place that makes sense.” “Yes! That’s me!” I thought. And to me it doesn’t matter whether that mat is in a gym with weights clanking and music jamming in the next room or in a “proper studio.”
When I began teaching more classes I was very focused on teaching in yoga studios. I taught in some studios and some gyms. But as time went on I discovered I am super happy and grateful to be teaching in gyms. (My teaching schedule is on the Yoga page of this site, you can buy a single pass or package for any of these locations.)
First, I love the energy in the gyms. My teaching currently takes me to four different gyms. In my experience, the front desk crew are always upbeat and helpful. There are diverse activities happening in gyms creating a lively vibe. As an instructor, I find management supportive and trusting, giving me tons of freedom to, “Just do your thing!” There is a light and positive energy in the gyms I work.
And I LOVE my students. Though they have chosen to practice in a gym instead of a yoga studio, (thank you for coming!) they embrace yogic philosophy and get deep into their yoga work. Above is a group of Sunrise Yogis at Cheetah Gym in Edgewater. They are up and practicing at 6:00 am – such dedication and inspiration!
While we do not chant Om in my yoga classes, or learn the Yoga Sutras in a formal way (this is because of what I choose to teach) the students are still committed and open to taking an inward journey of the spirit and body – embodying the core tenants and transformative aspects of yoga.
Above you can see my beautiful yogis at Edgewater Athletic Club, Chicago in deep practice sandwiched between a pool and a cardio room.
Ok, so yes, sometimes there are distractions at the gyms; noise and visuals. Well, I LOVE THIS! It is a time to go inside and focus on yourself. To rise above the distractions. Even embrace them – to accept and incorporate these noises and smiling children at the pool as part of life. Yoga is about being in the moment right here and right now – and life can be filled with such distractions. The practice of yoga need not always be precious to yield results. And sometimes the distractions are simply great for a laugh.
Additionally most gym yoga classes are multi-level. Personally I find it wonderful to look around and see various krama (progressive level) of the pose being expressed, as they are in this photo taken of my aerial yoga class at Air Fit. I feel it’s positive to observe yogis both more and less advanced than me when I practice. It can help me to see a seasoned practitioner’s expression of the pose for I can observe and absorb the evolution of the pose. It also reminds me that the magic of the pose is at play, regardless of the practitioner’s experience.
Finally gyms provide a place for folks to practice that may be a touch more affordable. And sometimes people would not be inclined to try yoga except for the fact that it is part of their gym membership. Consequently they fall deeply in love with the practice. Plus, plus, plus.
And did I forget to mention community? There are plenty of delightful, sincere friendships made and shared at gyms, just like yoga studios. Above is how we end each class at ID Gym, savasana. A bunch of good hearted souls hanging out together in this deeply restful and restorative pose. Blissful savasana – happening at a gym, or yoga studio, or rooftop, or senior center, (etc.) near you!