Saturday, May 22, 2010

Yoga class = college choice?

Warning, this is a bit fluffy.

I had an epiphany the other day during yoga.

Long before the discussion on FSP about the relative merits of a SLAC/ PUI to a BigU, (my response) I have been really pondering whether my students get THAT much more out of college to justify the increased expense of their college education. As I mentioned at FSP, I went to a Big U, so don't really get the idea of a SLAC / PUI from the STUDENT'S perspective. Hence the epiphany.

The prallels will be painfully obvious as you read this, but to me, there was an AHA! moment. Call me slow....

I am a member of a gym. I go to a yoga class there. The class is quite large such that when the lights are lowered, there are students in the far reaches of the class that are physically in a cave- like environment. Its hard to see and hear what the instructor is doing, but as long as between you and the instructor there is chain of two people that are doing it semi-correctly, you can manage something relatively close to what is being modeled up front. Moreover, the instructor NEVER comes around to correct your form. If you really care about your form, you will both pay attention AND you will either get closer to the instructor so as to do it right, or you will intuit from your peers the correct form. The better your abililty to intuit, the better yor ability to do it correctly.

Recently, the Yoga instructor has been out due to an injury and she has been replaced the pilates instructor. Class suddenly transformed from a mostly yoga class that had been hybridized a little to a class where club music was being played, the instructor commanded every breath, the moves slowed down considerably, and became far more pilates-like with a few yoga-ish moves included. The new instructor even theought that we would be insulted if he called the move "cow" (like its been called for centuries), and instead, changed the name of this combination of back stretches (belly up, belly down) to "cat lift" and "cat raise"- leaving everyone in the class to look up to try and figure out what the heck he was talking about.

I hated this class, and slowly stopped going. I hear the normal instructor is back, but now I am going to a pre-natal Yoga class at a private studio.

The Yoga class at the private studio is 100% pure unadulterated Yoga, even using the sanskrit names for all the moves. There is a spiritual component to it that is entirely absent at the big gym. There were 4 women in my class the other night and we had a moment where we shared about our pregnancies, and though we weren't making friends, at least we had some form of solidarity (albeit, we were a homogenous group). The instructor was very knowledgable, and took the time to adapt moves in an individual basis for each mother. At the end of class, I felt fabulous inside and out, and felt like I had advanced my practice by a lot.

I pay $35 per month at the large gym and $15 a SESSION at the studio. I jusify the studio as a special need for pre-natal Yoga (which the big gym does not offer). I know that I could go to the big gym, sit up front, and remind my instructor (though its obvious by now) that I am pregnant and need special attention and modifications. I could guess on my own what moves are not a good idea for me and simply adapt without the help of the instructor. Sure. Exactly like I did as an undergrad.

In the studio class I get taken care of by an instructor who is an expert, and I directly benefit from her training without me having to guess (act as independently?). Just like my students here at SRU.

In the big gym, for $35 per month I also have available to me free weights (which I never use) classes such as spinning (which I don't need now, but will later), nautilus (never use), and treadmills (not appropriate for me now). There is also a vending machine of sports drinks (uh, no thanks), a swimming pool (a GREAT boon to me), and towels (which I have plenty of at home).

At the Yoga Studio, for $45/ month I have everything I need to do Yoga but nothing else. No extras that I do need, like a swimming pool, and no extras that I don't need, like a sports-drink vendo.

So in Yoga class the other day, while I was lying in savasana rest pose letting my mind wander, I suddenly and dramatically understood why students (or their parents) would want to pay the extra money to come to SRU. And depending on many factors, not that much more money. I guess I came to the conclusion overall that you can get what you need at a Big U, and even do well there. There are some definite benefits to the size. But the higher personal quality of the education at the PUI/ SLAC is very appealing.


  1. Actually, a very nice metaphor!
    And you made me want to take up yoga. :)

  2. I also agree with the metaphor. Personally, I find it easier to skip yoga class in a bigger gym--assuring myself that I'll supplement the class with some other workout, which I never did. And going to private classes, I'm more likely to stickup to it because that all I have for that I'm paying. ;-)

  3. Interesting! I went to a BigU, did grad school at a SmallInstitute, and postdoc at a BigU. Hated them all. Maybe I should have gone to a small yoga studio sooner. It's the only place where I feel like I'm getting attention & encouragement in any facet of my life.