Why You Should Ditch Your Usual Yoga Studio – Yoga Journal

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When it comes to my practice, I prefer the dark. A candlelit room with matte black walls and no mirrors is my ideal space. This is what I encounter each time I practice at my regular studio. It forces me to tune out the rest of the world. (I can’t look at anyone else’s practice because, well, I can barely see them.) That dark room has always allowed me to tap in and tune out. I leave feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and, frankly, alive.

However, recently I struggled to find that familiar solace. By my own admission, I was in a yoga rut. I had ignored it for a bit, thinking it would correct itself. After taking a few weeks off, I had eagerly returned to the mat, ready to have the calmness immediately wash over me. But it didn’t. I kept trying, but the yoga just wasn’t landing.

There’s a saying when it comes to running about “every third run.” Out of three jogs, one will be terrible, one will be mediocre, and one will be absolutely incredible. That last one is the reason why you continue to do it. You’re forever chasing that “third run.” I tried to think about my practice in a similar light. Not every class could be life-changing. I knew that. But that “third practice” never arrived.

So when I was invited to a rooftop yoga class at the Rockaway Hotel as part of “Wellness Week,” I assumed there was no way I would find my “third practice.” There would be no dark, heated room. I wouldn’t be dripping in sweat. I wouldn’t have my normal spot under the ceiling fan.

However, there was also no way I was turning down an opportunity to practice 800 feet away from the ocean in such an idyllic setting. I showed up to the class with no expectations. And maybe that’s exactly what I needed to do. When I arrived, flustered and late (thank you, MTA), I took a spot in the back row, a space I typically avoid. I didn’t have my normal mat or towel. I had picked the wrong sports bra, and it was digging into my shoulder. Everyone could see me. But then, I looked up. The teacher happened to be Chris Stanley, one of my favorites. As we moved through the sequence, I took more variations than I normally would. I spent time looking up at the fluffy clouds. I lost myself in the feeling of the ocean breeze, the peace and quiet of the rooftop. And then, as I wobbled in Tree Pose, I found it: my third practice.

It sounds so trivial to say when I stopped looking for it, it came. Yet it rings true. Stepping outside of the typical confines of what I thought I needed gave me that “yoga high” I’m constantly chasing. This summer, I’m continuing that. I love my home studio, but I’m also trying to open myself up more—trying a new type of class, teacher, location, time. You just never know when you’ll stumble upon that “third practice.”

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