Why Private Yoga Sessions are So (In)Valuable

When you think of joining Yoga Studio, you most often think of stepping into a room full of people, most (or all) of whom you don’t know. It feels unfamiliar, a little scary, and nine times out of ten, you have some kind of inadequate thought running through your head—I can’t even touch my toes, I’m going to look foolish, hopefully I don’t fart, etc.

Perhaps you aren’t new to yoga at all, but you’ve injured your elbow, or low back, or wrist. Maybe this injury led you to decide to stop doing yoga because you know you wouldn’t be able to keep pace in your regular class. Or possibly, you’ve started seeing a physical therapist and they tell you to stop doing yoga—which is most often because the therapist is unfamiliar with the practice, or more importantly, with the instructor whom you choose to practice with. For them, they may picture the age old stereotype of two feet behind the head (paired with a future hip replacement) or they might imagine someone who is really good at teaching stretches. Neither of which are (typically) accurate. But, because of the unknown, they forbid you from your practice, just in case.

Or maybe you’re just busy, have anxiety, stress, want to improve your practice, find out if you’re doing it right, or a number of other reasons that make this article a quintessential read at this juncture of your yoga practice.

While group yoga classes are a beautiful thing, they are limited in their capacity. The cues are broad, and although instructors aim to speak to individuals, you receive nominal instruction to what you receive in private sessions. In private yoga classes, all cues are for you.

If you’ve never had a private session in any capacity, it might be hard to imagine how these sessions are so invaluable. But here are the top reasons why private yoga sessions are bar-none to group sessions.

  1. The space is safe. I’m not speaking about locks on doors—I’m speaking about emotionally safe. Yoga is a vulnerable practice, particularly for those that are bound-up inside. I have experienced countless numbers of people that have expressed concerns about attending a group class for fear others will be watching. The bigger fear is really, what will happen if I’m seen. While I can assure you they are not watching, I know it doesn’t ease your mind. It still feels unsafe and a little too vulnerable. In private sessions, it’s you and the instructor; they are so focused on how to support you that I can assure you, no thoughts of judgement cross his/her mind. The space is safe, and when you feel safe you can let go and breathe.
  2. You build more awareness. In group yoga  sessions, there is a continuous flow to the class and the tedious work is not often incorporated. But in private sessions, an instructor only has one body to watch. They can see the nuances of how you move and will cue you to make tiny shifts that can change your entire practice. The Warrior 1 that you’ve been practicing for years might feel completely different. The pain in your shoulder suddenly goes away because you discovered a new angle for Chaturanga Dandasana. In private sessions, there’s plenty of time to break postures down and understand your body better. When you understand your body better, you move better for longer.
  3. It’s the avenue to keep practicing. When a diagnoses or injury strikes (and it will from one thing or another), you might feel at a loss for how to continue practicing yoga. You’ve become familiar with your practice in a certain way and your ailment just doesn’t fit into that mold. In private sessions, we adjust the mold to fit to you. I’ve had clients with injured wrists (so no down dog), injured low backs (so no forward folds), abdominal surgery (so minimal core work), tightened finger tendons (so no flat palms ever), and much more. No matter what might be going on, you can continue to practice. You might need to give yourself a little grace—and then consult an instructor to help your practice along.
  4. Your practice grows exponentially. In group classes, you’ll receive a well-rounded practice, sometimes with a particular focus. You always feel better and as with anything, the more you practice, the better you get. However, if classes vary (and they do), your growth may be slower than it could be. For instance, I had a private client who really wrestled with downward facing dog. She could hold it for only a few seconds before needing to rest. After about six months, she was taking multiple downward facing dogs and holding them for many seconds each. Her wrist and should strength had grown exponentially to support the posture. In private sessions, you can work on specific goals, including areas that need more strength. Your instructor will hold you accountable to build the strength and stamina that’s available in your body. Accountability alone is well worth the investment.
  5. It’s convenient. Many people for many reasons need to humbly bow to convenience. Convenience often comes with a price tag, but it becomes invaluable because it gets you to do the thing. Often times our health takes a backseat to the busy lives we live—but if you commit your time to someone else, most likely you’ll show up. And WHO does it benefit most? You. Perhaps you’re a busy CEO, a mom of young children, you travel for work, or you simply need to conserve your time—private yoga sessions are the right fit for you. For private yoga, you simply book a time with a yoga instructor and it becomes a standing appointment. Most places will have a penalty if you cancel within a certain period of time, so you make it a priority to show up for yourself. Sometimes you can even find an instructor that’s willing to come to you!
  6. It’s a great alternative to (or in addition to) teacher training. Many individuals are not interested in teaching yoga. There doesn’t seem to be a demand for an immersive training simply to be a better yogi, so teacher training is the option. However, private sessions can be an alternative. If you want to learn more about yoga philosophy, history, anatomy, alignment, or pranayama, many instructors are willing to accommodate a series of sessions to focus on a particular subject. In addition, it’s not uncommon for graduates of teacher training to seek out private sessions for mentorship or to continue their learning.

Many individuals prefer their yoga practice be no other way than private sessions. While others can’t justify the cost or fathom the value of private yoga sessions. In an ideal world, group classes would be a one-size-fits-all. But until that day occurs, our uniqueness renders individualized attention.

If you’re wondering what might be a good mix, we recommend practicing a minimum of two times per week with one of those being a private session. At best, we recommend practicing four to six times a week with one or two of those sessions being private yoga instruction. If it all sounds like too much, start with what you can handle. There’s much benefit to once a month— especially if you come ready with specific goals in mind.

To schedule a private yoga session at our Centerville Yoga Studio, CLICK HERE. You’ll see all of our instructors’ availability.

About the Author

Justina Sanford

Justina Sanford

Justina is the owner of Ignite Yoga in Dayton, Ohio and 500 E-RYT yoga instructor. She's been teaching yoga for 15 years utilizing various yoga methodologies and has a passion for nudging people to discover what they're capable of, both on and off the mat. Justina loves to facilitate powerful experiences that often include dharma talks (life talks), breathing practices, visionwork, journaling, music, meditation, and sometimes even some unconventional methods. Justina is a former Music Therapist that has discovered a passion for entrepreneurship and helping people succeed. When she's not teaching classes, she's coaching and mentoring her staff or working to improve Ignite Yoga for students and teachers alike. Outside of small business ownership, Justina loves nature, fitness, cooking, culture, singing, and learning. Alongside her husband Chris, they take care of their three rescue dogs and travel often for outdoor adventures.

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