As a result of the Covid-19 lockdowns, many of us have become used to working out within the comfort of our own homes.
But as coronavirus restrictions begin to ease and some semblance of regular life is on the horizon, it may be time to consider returning to the gym or studio for a class.
And according to Karen Kirkness of Meadowlark Yoga (meadowlarkyoga.com), this is especially true when it comes to dusting the yoga mat off and signing up for an in-person class.
Satisfaction vs somatic closeness
While opening up the laptop and logging in for a yoga class has been a saviour for those who incorporate the practice into their daily lives, Karen notes that the online space doesn't quite offer the same sensory stimulation as a community yoga studio.
"In-person, your olfactory sense is presented with a note of myrrh followed by the sight of a friendly face at reception and a continuous stream of somatic inputs that combine to form a visceral imprint on your consciousness," she said. "This sensory experience reinforces our choices by creating and strengthening deeply rooted psychosomatic memories that help us navigate future behaviour and strengthen our health and wellness choices."
Convenience vs connectedness
Even though it's easy to jump onto the mat first thing in the morning or before bed, there's something special about being in the presence of others all focused on the same poses.
"When you have to actually get dressed and present yourself to a room of humans, you're coming together with those people in a shared social contract. There is an unspoken acknowledgement: 'Hey, well done class, we all got here despite the many obstacles facing each and every one of us,'" the yoga teacher continued.
Accountability vs actual joy
There's something about simply showing up to a class that offers a certain sense of achievement.
"Accountability is an underlying motivator, but you're going to that class in-studio not because you care about your name being seen on the participants' list. You're there because the sheer joy of being physically present and experiencing it in real life adds to your overall workout; the joy lives in tandem with a sense of accountability that is magnified by the in-person experience," shared Karen.
As mammals, humans require eye contact, shared biorhythms, hugs, vocal subtlety, pheromonal interaction, and many other aspects of nonverbal communication that the online format can never accommodate.
"With most of us double-vaccinated, ventilation, and hygiene measures permanently levelled-up, and capacities down by 25 per cent, we are now at a point where the benefits of communal interaction now outweigh the individual and collective risk of getting together in enclosed spaces," the expert stated.
Another reason to return to the studio is to seek guidance from a qualified teacher.
"In-studio, the teacher can focus on seeing and feeling the students in the room, respond to the nuances of physical proximity, not having to spend valuable time and attention on the tech aspects," added Karen.