Millennials have become one of the most active populations in modern yoga, for many reasons. The most prevalent one: We’re stressed. A 2017 study from Dignity Health found that 64 percent of millennials surveyed said that they use activities to achieve mindfulness, like yoga, meditation, journaling, even apps—versus just 19 percent of baby boomers surveyed.
Still, yoga isn’t always the peaceful escape we hope it’s going to be. It’s hard to feel zen when you look at your monthly membership bill or walk into a packed studio with almost no space left. These are our millennial yogi problems, but they aren’t unfixable. There are solutions to finding your “om” again, and we’re sharing them here.
The busiest generation.
You like to move your body a few times a week, but scheduling your yoga classes can be a disaster in almost every situation. If you work in an office, finding studios that offer times that work before or after is challenging—many don’t offer classes early enough and others are too soon after work. You get stuck in traffic after leaving work too early and then lose all your zen before even getting to the studio.
It gets even more challenging when you go to more than one studio or like a particular teacher and attend their classes, regardless of which studio they’re at. While many teachers update their Instagram with a weekly schedule, digging through your feed to find their account—and that particular post—takes way too much time. Time you already don’t have.
Despite the frustration, there are a few creative solutions:
- Follow the schedules of your favorite teachers and classes with an app like YogaTrail.
- Use ClassPass so you can choose the studio that works best for your schedule each week. This is especially helpful if your schedule changes a lot.
The debt-strapped generation.
Our generation is strapped with debt. While yoga feeds our mind, it drains our bank accounts. The average monthly studio membership costs between $80 to $150+, depending on your region and studio,
While working out at home is a great way to cut costs, most yogis feel the difference between going to the studio and practicing at home.
Maura Elizabeth Cunningham, contributor for The Bill Fold, explains her experience:
“I would try to practice at home for free, using YouTube videos, but I never found them nearly as helpful or satisfying as actually going to a class; I wasn’t sure I was doing the poses correctly, and normal sounds of life around my apartment building would always intrude and distract me. I told myself I wanted to keep up with yoga, and even left my mat unrolled on the living-room floor to inspire me, but weeks would go by and I’d walk around or over it, not practice on it.”
Luckily, there are a few ways to cut down costs without eliminating it from your budget altogether. Try these two simple ideas:
- Work the “free week circuit.” Most studios offer a free week or discounted “new member” price that you can use to save on studio costs if bounce between different places for a few months. Not only will you spend less, but you’ll have better luck finding the best studio for your needs by trying many of them.
- Invest in better laundry detergent. Washing your expensive yoga duds with regular detergent is ruining them, which means you’re spending more to replace everything: “In most cases, high tech fabrics are used to create activewear clothes, which tend to deteriorate when exposed to harsh chemicals,” suggests 4 Ways to Help Your Activewear Last Longer. How do you fix it? Choose a mild, preferably eco-friendly detergent, to gently wash your expensive activewear.
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#3: Packed Studios
The “fit” generation.
There are many hypotheses as to why we’re “the fittest generation,” but there’s one outcome that’s creating problems for yogi millennials everywhere: packed studios. You know it all too well, especially when you get to class right on time and find that the only spot left is sandwiched between two people who are already closer than you’d like to be to your yoga neighbor.
Unfortunately, the solution to this problem isn’t as simple as some of the others. Still, there are some ways to ease this challenge:
- Arrive to class at least 10 to 15 minutes early. This gives you enough time to choose a spot and then meditate or relax. When class starts, you’ll be in a better state of mind, feeling ready to move your body—and you’ll likely have more space.
- Choose a new studio. If yours is always slammed, no matter the day or time, opt for a new studio. If you live in a metropolitan area, it shouldn’t be hard to find a new spot to lay your mat.
#4: Yogi Jealousy
The highlight-reel generation.
If you follow any yoga lovers or yoga teachers on social media, what do you often see? Someone doing a headstand in front of the most gorgeous mountain view. Your favorite teacher in a challenging crow pose paired with the perfect smile. What you’re seeing is the “highlight-reel” and many of us immediately do the same thing when we see this: start comparing.
- Why can’t I do that pose?
- I need to look better next time I take that picture.
- I NEED to get a yoga picture on my next trip!
Suddenly, you’re not feeling so zen. You’re feeling stressed and anxious as you “should” yourself for the next ten minutes. If you notice yourself getting sucked into these feelings of inadequacy and even jealousy, try a few simple solutions:
- Unfollow any account that triggers that feeling. The second you feel it, unfollow, and keep scrolling (or get off Instagram). You should be inspired by your friends and favorite yogis. There are plenty of people out there bring realness to what can feel like a vein industry. (Check out Kathryn Budig or my account, Honest Body Fitness – my goal is to always keep it real.)
- Remind yourself the difference between what you’re seeing on Instagram (after 20 tries and a lot of editing) what’s actually real. Give this hilarious post a read: Yoga on Instagram versus Yoga in Reality.
#5: In-Class Comparison
The “body love” generation.
Modern yoga has added something to the mix that’s creating problems for millennial yogis everywhere: mirrors. Ask anyone who practices traditional yoga and they’ll tell you mirrors were never part of the equation before yoga become a popular, 21st century activity.
The problem is that mirrors make it easier to judge and compare yourself to those around you. How come I can’t move my arm like that? Why can’t I get my leg there?
Hillary Gibson, Yoga Journal contributor, shares her experience:
“When I step into a studio enclosed by mirrors, I immediately feel restricted. Even if I waltz into class feeling every bit my inner goddess, as soon as I see my reflection I know I’m not going to have the liberating practice I hoped for. I know, I know, I’m supposed to love my body and embrace its beauty as is, but let’s face it: In a society where people are trained to meet unreasonable standards of body image, practicing non-judgment is really hard. And it’s difficult to tune out the yogini executing a flawless Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose) to my left and not wish I could perform it as gracefully.”
What’s the solution? Here are a few ideas to consider:
- Practice with your eyes closed as much as possible. This also helps you stay focused on how your body and practice is feeling, which is crucial, while forcing you to have better balance, A.K.A. core strength.
- Remember that many poses require you to look toward the floor or ceiling. Listen to these instructions as a reminder to pull your eyes away from the mirror.
We Millennials Have Yogi Problems and Solutions
We need yoga to stay healthy and sane. Don’t let these yogi problems keep you from practicing this important form of self love and mindfulness. Use the solutions shared here or find your own. Make yoga the happy and healthy part of your life that it should be. Take control of what doesn’t work and finding a solution, once and for all.
By Jessica Thiefels
Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than ten years and is currently a full-time organic content marketing consultant, ACE Certified Personal Trainer, mental health advocate. She’s also the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Honest Body Fitness, an online health magazine for women. She’s written for Shape, Reader’s Digest, AARP, 24 Hour Fitness and more.