Friday, April 29, 2011

Are you really practicing yoga?

Or are you attending yoga classes regularly?  I may be the world's worst salesman, but as an instructor and believer in the amazing benefits of yoga I think it's really important to talk about the importance of an at home practice.

Yoga, At Home? You Can't Be Serious?

Seriously, yoga at home is no joke.  I found Dr. Krisitn Sheperd's article Homing Instinct a little upsetting.  Her opening paragraph explains my dismay.

Here's a confession: for the last six months, 98 percent of my practice has been at home. For some reason I feel guilty about this. Why? Perhaps because so many of you are teachers. Perhaps because I love my own teachers and every class I've ever had. Perhaps because I value learning. -Kristin Sheperd

Here is a woman who is dedicated to a strong yoga practice, and she feels "guilty."  She should be applauded for her discipline!

In my training to become a yoga teacher my instructors explained the necessity of an at home practice to me, and why it is detrimental to the progress of a yoga practitioner.  Here I hope to share their wisdom and my experience with practicing outside of the studio.

Going Out Vs. Staying In:

Don't give up your studio or gym membership just yet.

Classes are still important, but there is a balance in recognizing that the studio environment only offers you so much.

Your instructor plays a big part in your development as a yogi/yogini.  If you are learning from a dvd alone chances are your not performing to your benefit.  The instructor verbally and physically adjusts you in a posture to make sure you are serving your individual anatomy.

Doing asana without that guidance can be damaging!

BUT!  Never bringing your practice home also blocks one potential. You can't really advance your practice without a balance of the two.

If you've ever learned a musical instrument you understand the importance of instructors and home discipline.

For example:  you see your piano teacher once a week, and they show you where things are, how it sounds, what it feels like, and why.  Before you leave the lesson I guarantee they will say "practice this every day."  They also can tell when you don't practice, and usually this doesn't make them too happy.

Why? Because they want you to improve.  They want you to enjoy the fruits of your practice.

The instructor and class setting is where you learn how to do yoga.  Your personal application of yoga is the actual practice.

What Can Your Home Offer You?

Even if you went to the studio/gym 7 days a week it still lacks the magic of a personal practice.  Here is what I've discovered about my personal practice.
  1. It's quiet!!! I can choose my music, or no music.  I don't have to tune out any talking, or other sounds while trying to find peace in a challenging pose.
  2. I am free to do what I want.  If I want to work on hips, or back bends, or inversions I can.  I'm the master of my practice.
  3. I've learned to trust myself.  Developing my practice has taught me that I have all the tools to nurture my mind, body and spirit.
  4. My home has better energy.  Sounds really hokey, but really when I walk into my space I know it's a peaceful haven where I'm free to be calm and tranquil.
  5. It's free!!!

When I was first given permission to bring my asana practice home I felt a whole new freedom and excitement, and I hope you find liberation and inspiration in yours.

What does your personal practice look like?  What are the pro's and con's of staying home, and going to the studio?  Whether you have had a personal practice for years or your just now giving it a try please share your experiences!



Very excellent article. I have been practicing Yoga at home for most of my life. Everyone should practice at home, even if they also attend classes. I wrote a couple of articles about it on my own blog. Here is a link to the category: Flip through it there are a couple of very related articles, particularly:

Thanks for your article - I really enjoyed it.

Thank you so much! I look forward to reading your articles.

Nice knowledge! I have already been seeking something like this for a while now. Thank you!

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