I'm so lucky to have found my second home at Just Be Yoga in Walnut Creek, but many people are still out there looking for a studio to call there own. Do you feel like a drifter from studio to studio? Are you craving connection with a new community? Do you love the idea of calling somewhere your "second home"? Here's some tips for finding the studio that's just right for you.
When you first visit a studio, listen to your gut. Often, your first impression of a space is a valuable clue as to whether or not you'll be happy there. Are the front desk staff welcoming and friendly? Do the students look happy to be there? If you don't get the warm and fuzzier when you walk in the door, you might not get the personal, homey sense you're looking for. If you're looking for a different vibe at your studio- one where you can get in and out without chit chat- then maybe you've found your place.
Notice if there's art or photos on the wall- they'll give you a hint to the values of the studio. If there's group pictures of community events or workshops,those are great hints that community and camaraderie are important there. If there's a framed manifesto or mission statement somewhere in the space, that's an extremely helpful way to know what you're getting into.
Take a glance at the schedule to ensure that it's conducive to your practice. If you're a yin kinda girl/guy, and there's only one or two yin classes a week, this studio may not be the best fit for you. If you like to get hot and sweaty, and there's no vinyasa classes that suit your work/school schedule, you might not have found "the one" just yet.
It would be extremely valuable to find a studio with a large variety of teachers and styles so you can not only foster the practice you already have (or want to have), but push yourself to grow and expand in new ways. If the studio has a few gentle flows you could make it to, but you've never tried it before, take the leap! You might find your next great love, or at the very least, be able to say you gave it a shot.
Keep an eye on their workshops and community events- if you find your new yoga home, you might be spending a lot of time here! Handstand/inversion workshops, book clubs, and retreats are all great options to have at your "home" studio.
In a perfect world, yoga is 100% free everywhere, there's always space for your mat, and your favorite teacher never has a sub. But unfortunately, nothing is perfect- even yoga! Inquire about prices and packages at the studio, to make sure you can make a sustainable commitment to your practice at the location. Many studios offer an introductory package such as "30 days for 30 dollars" so that you can try all the different teachers and classes. A handful of studios will offer one class for free before you purchase a package. Know your options so that you can plan for the future.
Be sure to ask about common courtesies at the studio surrounding signing up and checking into class. Get clear on how early you have to be to save your spot, and how late you can be while still being allowed in class. It's important to show respect for teachers, front desk staff, and community members and the only way to know what's expected of you is to ask! They'll be grateful you did.
Find out what the studio offers in terms of commodities and resources. If you have to head to work right after your 6 AM flow, a studio with a shower might be what you're looking for. If you'll be swinging into class after work, changing rooms will be what you need. Other things to look for are rental mats for you to use, mat cleaner/spray, hand towels, and water containers to fill your reusable bottles.
Oftentimes, your studio becomes one of your main sources of social interaction and connection, so it's important to find one that suits your style. Find a studio where you feel comfortable- that might mean finding some fun classes on the schedule like Hip Hop Flow, monthly events like Vino and Vinyasa, or participation community events like fun runs or charity fundraisers.
If you're looking for something largely restorative and calm for your practice, and you try out a solely flow-based studio with loud, funky music and the occasional f-bomb in class, it's okay to admit that you haven't found "your space" yet! What they're offering is just right for someone else, but may not be your thing- that's neither the fault of the studio, nor you! Be grateful for your time in the space, and then take your practice somewhere else more suitable to your tastes and needs.
Try, Try, Again
It might take a few months, or even a year or two, to really find where you feel comfortable, challenged, and happy. The most important thing is to not give up- you'll find where you're meant to be! In the mean time, focus on your home practice and the excitement of trying new spaces, teachers, and classes. Don't be afraid to go back to a studio two or three times- while first impressions are valuable, they aren't everything.
Good luck, and remember, home is where the mat is!