No place like home (studios)

Recently, I had an opportunity to practice at a different studio. It’s a rarity for me, as it is for many of us. We settle in someplace, have a membership, and it becomes like home.

Where do you call home?

But a class in a new studio was eye-opening. Even if the postures are as familiar as old clothes, so much is different: the heat is different, the people are different, the air is different. It was a challenge and felt a bit unsettling. There wasn’t anything wrong with this studio, so it took me awhile to understand why I did not enjoy it as much. After class I realized, there was a reason I stuck with Bikram Yoga Manhattan after trying others. Actually, in a lot of ways, BYM picked me.

I thought it was worth sharing why our studios became my home, not as a sales pitch but a prompt for everyone to remember why they chose where they practice. Sure, it could be as simple as location. And not everybody has the choices we have here in New York. There might be one Bikram studio in your city. But studios all have their own personalities, their own charms and faults.

The biggest, most obvious No. 1 appeal of BYM for me was the people. The teachers are carefully chosen by our director and absolutely wonderful. They greet everyone at the check-in desk, listen to your pre-class concerns, answer post-class questions and make everything feel so accessible. Become a regular and they become a part of your life. They get to know your practice and become a deep source of inspiration. They can do this because . . .

BYM studios are smaller than many. Some others fit 60-plus people. BYM’s, generally less than 30 (barring some wild, packed ones). It creates a more personal experience, the teachers learn names, offer corrections and individual help. You feel cared for and watched over, instead of lost in a sea of bodies. Sure, some truly talented teachers can make even the biggest classes feel intimate, but that’s a special few. Not everybody wants the attention, but it is definitely part of the personality of BYM studios.

I’ve written in the past about BYM’s policy that everyone stays in the room for 90 minutes. It strikes some as crazy, but to others like me, it’s wonderful: it minimizes distractions, teaches everyone from first-timers to old-timers that they are strong enough to overcome almost anything and creates a unified energy. There are no short cuts or easy ways out in life, so learning not to lean on them in yoga is an invaluable thing.

So, what about your studio do you love? What drew you there and what keeps you there? Isn’t it nice to remember, every once in awhile, why you came and stayed?

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