Updated: Mar 18, 2022
So you attend classes regularly and you've started to see some real progress. Maybe you've even established a practice at home (because let's face it, there's NOTHING like being able to hang upside down) so you've went as far as having a hammock installed. It's usually at this point that you're ready to step it up a notch. Insert: workshops!
Workshops are the perfect learning environment that offer students tools and experiences beyond those that are included in a standard class. Whether a workshop is a couple hours long or takes place over the course of a few weeks, the possibilities are endless and can be one of the most rewarding and empowering experiences to add into your journey.
Before you dive into your first workshop, you might be asking yourself, "but why"? Or maybe you're not sure if you're ready, or you're not sure what to expect, or you have so many other questions. Here we're going to break down not only the differences between classes and workshops, but our favorite reasons why we love adding in workshops to a regular practice.
Typically your every day classes are designed with a group of students in mind and have a more generalized theme, emphasis or intention. Additionally a teacher's attention is focused on providing a safe and balanced experience for all of the different skill levels. You may notice that the instruction that's given is oftentimes provided to the class as a whole and very little time is allotted to give personal feedback, alignment assistance, or modifications. This is done intentionally because a teacher has to accommodate multiple levels while multi-tasking, and in a standard 60-minute class, simply put, there isn't enough time to offer the amount of one-on-one time they'd like!
The beauty of a workshop environment is that time is included to ensure that each student in attendance is able to get one-on-one attention from a teacher (sometimes more than one teacher). This allows you to not only get your questions answered, but to spend the time getting help with your form, getting feedback on alignment, and help with modifying based on your skill levels and body type. And our favorite part? The targeted hands-on assistance and advice we get to provide! When getting to work directly with a student to help them truly go deeper within their own abilities and hone in on skills, it's absolutely the highlight of a teacher's day!
Yoga teachers learn early on in their training how to sequence and structure a yoga class. Believe it or not, a yoga class is supposed to be intentional and well-balanced. A class often incorporates a mental aspect as well as the physical aspect, with the physical aspect often incorporating full body engagement of an emphasis on one area, such as hips, chest, etc. However, there's no guarantee that the sequencing and flow that a teacher has planned is going to include what you want to focus on that day.
With a workshop, you can expect to know ahead of time what the focus is on: a specific part of the body, a sequence, or skill. And, the focus will be on one specific thing serving specific needs. Why is this important? You may have a specific part of the body, sequence or skill that you aren't getting a chance to expand on, or grow, as much as you'd like to in a class. In a workshop you're given the chance to do just that! Let's use handstand for example. Instead of experiencing what a handstand could feel like, or just scratching the surface of how to effectively do a handstand and then quickly moving on to the next thing, in a handstand workshop you'll spend the entire time focusing on how to do a handstand, variations, modifications, etc.
Think about anytime you leave a yoga class. We typically feel amazing (that relaxed, refreshed and restored feeling). Yep, we all know that feeling and for a lot of students, that's why we go to classes. We just feel good after and it often impacts how the rest of our day or even our week goes. A yoga practice helps us as students turn inward to focus on ourselves for 60-minutes so we're able to grow as an individual. This happens because we have a teacher guiding us through the practice, one shape at a time, flowing through sequencing, demonstrating what we should be doing, allowing us to simply move and breath.
Now, take all of this a step further! In a workshop you get to explore the WHY behind a specific feeling, shape, skill, etc. You get to take the time to gain knowledge that goes beyond just the practice, but how and why you are benefitting. Workshops can also help us expedite the learning process. When you spend the time mastering a specific skill, shape, sequence, etc. you get to learn all of the personalized, micro-level details of how to modify, enhance and strengthen. This is because time is taken to fully explain the focus in great detail, your teacher thoroughly demonstrates what you are learning multiple times, and you get plenty of time to practice and discuss it yourself!
There are drastic differences in how a class vs. a workshop is structured. First, let's explore a class. Learning is done solely through the form of your personal practice and your focus is mostly inward on your own experience to help you grow as an individual. Discussion related to the practice itself is often minimal (or limited) because a typical class is only 60-minutes long. The teacher has a lot to cover in an hour and is strictly focused on a yoga class flow: arriving, breath work, warm up, flowing and sequencing, inversions, peak shape or skill, cool down and savasana. So by the time you are working on a skill, your peak shape, or a specific sequence, there isn't enough time to go as deep as you sometimes might want to.
Now, in a workshop the structure is much, much different! Instead of flowing through a traditionally structured class, learning is done through a mixture of discussion (theory), an intensive practice (with a specific emphasis), and very detailed instruction. You'll typically start with a brief warm up to prepare the body, but then move right into extended practice time to work on the specific focus for the workshop. Students are often encouraged to discuss what's being learned, too! This is the perfect environment to ask questions, get feedback, and share experiences. And our favorite part? Students get to grow together and you get to take all of the new tools you've learned into your regular classes afterwards.
So whether you want to learn new relaxation techniques or master a new skill, the key thing to remember is that you will always be growing and evolving your practice. Workshops help deepen and accelerate the learning process while classes will help you create consistency in putting these techniques and skills to practice. Both are an important part of a student's journey and compliment one another. And, wherever you are in your journey, workshops are for you! So, don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try something new, take your practice to new heights, and explore what you're capable of!
Check out the variety of upcoming workshops we offer here.