A while ago, Yogadork had a post about REAL yoga. I read this with great interest and was so grateful to see different locations equally represented. I also smiled ear to ear when reading a comment that mentioned taking exceptional yoga classes in a gym. Yes, in a gym. Why did this excite me so?
Because I, too, teach in a gym.
Yes, it’s true. I teach in a gym several times a week. On the other side of the walls there are people lifting weights, running treadmills, spinning their legs off. There are people training for marathons, trying to bulk up, slim down, GO GO GO GO GO! There is often a class coming in right after mine and sometimes I am waiting for a class to let out before I go in. People walk in late. People leave early. An Ashram it ain’t. BUT for an hour or so, it becomes a sacred space.
I’m very lucky that I work for an organization that appreciates, respects, and nurtures all aspects of well-being including the mental and physical, emotional and spiritual aspects. There are tapestries hanging in the room. There are always candles that I am encouraged to use. There are floor to ceiling windows that look out into the woods. We see deer and birds and life! There are no limitations on what I teach (well, okay, I’m not supposed to teach sirsasana – go ahead and ask me if I do. 😉 ) I can include whatever I feel like including and that often means deep meditation, references to Hindu gods and goddesses, the Sutras, yamas, niyamas, arm balances, and loads of Sanskrit. Props are welcome. Sweat is welcome. Stopping in the middle and hanging out it Balasana is welcome. Emotional outburts are welcome – and they happen. Yes, in a gym.
My classes are VERY real. And they are Fabulous.
I am routinely asked WHY I teach at a gym as opposed to any of the number of yoga studios we have here in town. Interestingly enough, I get asked that in my gym! Just Thursday, I was asked by a student after class if I teach anywhere else. When I told her that I teach at many branches of the gym, but no, not at a studio, she looked at me like I was crazy and asked me why not. I looked her dead in the eye and said, “Do you take yoga at any of those studios?” When she replied that she didn’t, I said, “well, then, YOU are the reason I teach here!”
Here’s the thing – Yoga is for EVERYBODY. It can be done ANYWHERE. There are loads of folks who want “real” yoga but, for whatever reason, don’t find themselves going to a studio. Does that mean that they don’t deserve a fulfilling yoga class? Of course not. It is an honor to be the one to bring yoga to them so that they can then bring yoga out into the world into their own lives off the mat. It’s a wonderful bit of service work and I’m happy to be able to do it. And I just happen to do it really well.
Will I always teach at a gym? Probably not. But I will always find a way to bring yoga to people who might not make it into a studio. Yoga is a gift to us all and it is my gift to share it, regardless of location. Where doesn’t matter – it’s how, why, when, and with whom that makes a difference. It makes a difference to people in my gym every day and the rewards that I get from my students have no address.
So next time you happen to hear of yoga at a gym, think twice before passing it off as anything other than everything you could ever want. It’s possible that it might be the best class you’ve ever taken. We are all yogis, we are all one, and we are all very, very real.