While recently traveling in Colorado, I found a great yoga class by doing some online research and talking to local yogis. It was worth it! The teacher knew her alignment cues, kept the class flowing, and left me feeling grounded. Her colorful personality shined through in her teaching with quirky little comments, and she even infused myofascial release with self-massage for an interesting twist on opening your hips in yoga class. This experience was a welcome change from my past travels when I would just show up to a yoga studio without any sense of what classes it offered or which teacher was teaching. Often, this method left me so unsatisfied I had to practice on my own to feel balanced on vacation.
When you are a tourist in an unfamiliar place, don’t make the same mistake. Instead, take the time to find a fulfilling class with a well-matched teacher. Here’s how:
1) Look to Social Media
You can get a sense of a yoga studio’s culture simply by browsing its social media sites. If you already know the specific teacher’s class you are planning on attending, it’s helpful to look at his or her social media outlets, too. Most yoga teachers use Instagram and Facebook regularly, so focus on those sites to get an idea of what their personalities are like and what they offer. If you enjoy an athletic, sweaty practice, seek out a teacher who seems to value a more physically-demanding class. If you are a mystic who’s drawn to a more artistic expression of your practice, don’t choose a teacher who posts about arm balances and core work. Instead, you might look for an instructor who posts inspirational mantras, poetry, and meditation.
2) Read Teacher Profiles
Any yoga studio will almost always have a website with a page dedicated to its teachers, including descriptions about what each instructor offers. This page can be a very helpful one-stop resource, especially if you’ve already decided on the studio and are narrowing down your search to the teacher whose class you want to take. Usually, someone who has a similar background to you will be most relatable. I, for one, tend to attract athletes who are looking to get a good workout, clear pain, and prevent injuries – the focus of my own practice.
3) Ask your Teachers for Suggestions
Tapping into teachers you trust is usually the best, most reliable means to find a good yoga class. Before you leave on your trip, ask the teacher whose classes you regularly attend if he or she knows of any good teachers in your destination. Often, yoga teachers who have been in the field for more than 10 years will have an answer. In my experience, asking my favorite teachers for class suggestions outside of my home studio has resulted in recommendations that turn out to be almost exactly what I’m looking for.
4) Read Student Reviews – with Caution
Look at reviews on Facebook and Yelp to get an idea of which studios and classes are well received. This strategy is more reliable if you are traveling in a city, where studios and teachers are more likely to receive plenty of reviews that you can sift through quickly. Remember, however, that people usually only write reviews if they had a great experience or an awful one. To be fair, I would only consider online reviews if there are a lot of them that are consistent. Otherwise, you might be missing out on a good class just because someone had one bad experience.
5) Consider Style
If you are drawn to a specific style, consider it a great place to start looking for a class that you will enjoy. Some methods, such as Bikram and Power Vinyasa, will be very similar – if not exactly the same – at any studio with any teacher. These are two of the most physically-demanding and exercise-based classes. If you opt for another type of yoga, such as restorative or yin, you can almost always plan for it is a relaxing, meditative experience every time. While the classes might offer different poses, you will hold each movement for a couple of minutes and find depth by breathing and being still. Vinyasa and Hatha yoga, meanwhile, falls under a broader category, so you should read more into the teacher and class description if you want to be sure it’s the right class for you. Otherwise, simply showing up with an open mind can be a good way to mix up your routine.
6) Ask around
Whether you’re staying in one place for a couple of weeks or you’re just driving through a new town, stop into a local sports shop and talk to people about the local yoga classes. When I’m in a new city, I often look for a Lululemon, a store that features local, established teachers called “ambassadors.” The stores provide information on the ambassadors and a variety of yoga teachers in the area. First, I read through the descriptions of individual teachers and then I talk to a staff member to help figure out what would be the best fit.