New To Yoga: Private or Group Class?
Updated: Oct 30, 2020
This "New To Yoga"category of posts serves to answer questions that I sometimes get from people new to the practice. Today's post will address a common question: What's the difference between private and group (public) classes? Which one should I go for as someone new to the practice?
By "group class", I am referring to public group classes. This include classes you can attend in yoga studios, gyms and other community areas. They will typically have the following characteristics:
Classes are set at fixed timings and publicly listed for people to sign up.
Classes are run by the establishment.
Classes may be attended by anyone who signs up successfully, subject to rules of the establishment.
Class size may range from a few people (e.g. 3) to a much larger group (e.g. 50).
The teacher will usually teach according to the class type listed.
Advantages of attending public group classes include:
Variety of classes and teachers to choose from.
Facilities and props. This can be useful for people who don't have a suitable place to practice at or have props at home.
Opportunity to meet other people in the community.
Group energy. It can be fun to practice with other people and group energy can be very uplifting.
Limitations of public group classes include:
Group size may limit attention. While most teachers will do their best to watch out for everyone in the room, it will be harder for the teacher to give a person individualized attention as the teacher has to take care of the whole group.
The teacher usually has to teach according to the class type listed. If it isn't a class that is suitable for you that day or your practice experience, it may not be possible for the teacher to change the class content.
Scheduling rigidity. As the class timings are usually fixed, it can be challenging for people with a fluid schedule to attend classes according to a schedule. However, some studios offer very comprehensive schedules with many classes to choose from throughout the day.
For people new to the practice and want to try things out, joining group classes can be an easy and affordable way to get started. There are many studios and classes to choose from so one can try different places to find suitable classes and teachers. Studios also tend to hold events from time to time where you can learn from visiting teachers or pick up information that isn't usually taught in regular classes. Being part of a community can also help one to stay motivated.
As the name suggests, such classes are catered to groups. Everyone will come to class with different objectives and backgrounds. Teachers will do their best to take care of all students but please understand and be patient if teachers are unable to take care of every single request because they have a responsibility towards everyone to teach the class type that is listed.
For some people, attending group classes may not be a suitable option. This may include people with unusual work or life schedules, people who feel shy or people with injuries or conditions that require specific attention. I often hear of people who started yoga on the advice of their doctor. In some cases, it will be alright to attend group classes. However, if the condition requires extra attention, it will be advisable to consider private classes.
Private classes can include private one-to-one or group lessons. The former will be just the teacher and student while the latter will be a group that is organised by the student. This can be suitable for people who want to organize classes for family, friends or colleagues. Such classes may be arranged directly with the teacher or with a studio which represents the teacher.
Advantages of private classes include:
Individualized class content. The teacher will be able to design classes based on the student's background and needs, which will be useful for people with specific requirements.
Personal attention. The teacher will be able to focus on the student/s and offer advice or corrections specific to the student/s. People looking to refine or clarify their understanding or are working with injuries and conditions will find this helpful.
Scheduling convenience. Classes can be arranged at timings and venues convenient for both teacher and student.
Limitations of private classes can include:
Cost. This will be the main disadvantage as fees for private classes are usually higher than group classes though the cost may be managed by sharing with a few people for your own private group class.
Venue and props. While arranging your own class offers great flexibility, some people may not have space at home or somewhere convenient for class to be conducted.
In considering which one to go for, I would suggest considering your requirements, any special injuries or conditions that need attention, budget and convenience. Both types of classes have their own advantages so it really comes down to finding the class type that best suits your needs and budget. It is also possible to start off with group classes and arrange private classes with a teacher you like after that or do both together.
If you have other questions as someone new to Yoga, feel free to leave a comment and I'll try to address them in future posts. Hope this helps!