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Guest Post By Nicole Hardin

I was reflecting today on why going to yoga classes in a studio can be such a positive experience. For years I have sought out a workout regiment that I could be committed and yoga is the only one that stuck. I am sure I am not alone in many go rounds of joining gyms, classes and programs that seemed like such a great idea and some how in short order I did a 180 and just couldn’t find the “time” to go.

I continued to reflect on why did yoga stick – what about it keeps me driving 20 minutes out of the way 3 or 4 days a week for more than a year? There are the obvious benefits of not trying to look up at a video from your down dog and having the expertise and knowledge of an instructor who is actually watching you as you are practicing. I have also have found that not having to remember a sequence allows you to focus on your breathing, the poses and get into the moving meditation state. All of this is very true for me but I think there is a greater reason that after a day or so of home practice I find myself longing for a class at the studio.

I believe that a big part of the experience of practicing has to do with the community of the studio. For each person the experience they are seeking is different which could explain why there are so many different types of yoga and so many different types of studios.

When I practice I want to find a place where I am welcomed by the warmth of the people and the room. I think for most of us it is important to practice in a place where the teachers provide a format that allows us to access and explore our edge without feeling judged or putting ourselves in danger. The students in the class are equally important. It is hard to find a place of peace if you don’t feel comfortable and welcomed by the class.

Ultimately if we can find that type of environment we are able to let down some of our walls, to let go of the world outside we might find a way into our bodies. For a magical 60 or 90 minutes we might fully connect with the present moment and accept with compassion where we are while we get a little bit stronger. I don’t think the environment is a building, one person or one teacher but rather a community of people supporting each other.

I feel really privileged to have found IPY and all of those things without realizing it was what I was looking for. It is this environment that calls to me on my best and worst days making my practice one of the most consistent and healthy things I have ever done for myself.

If you feel it that you have found that community in IPY it is a great time to vote for us to be the #1 Studio in Northern Virginia!