The Practice is Practice

I’ve been doing yoga for over ten years now, and throughout that time, my home practice has taken all sorts of different shapes.  I’ve always practiced between classes at home because I like yoga, it makes me feel good, and once a week is just not enough.  It’s not always been every day, but I’ve always practiced at home.  I was going to just write one article about practice, but I’m quickly realizing that I have a lot to say on the matter, so I’m going to make it a series. 

Why do people call yoga a practice?  In my opinion, that’s where the real insights and satisfaction happens, when you’re at home, working things out on your own.

There is this new thing that’s happened, I think as a result of the sudden explosion of Yoga Teacher Training programs and certifications, where people are afraid to practice at home because they’re afraid they’re going to do things “wrong” or otherwise do something unsafe.  Here is a the big secret that yoga teachers, studio owners, and gym employees don’t want you to know.

You are probably not going to hurt yourself practicing at home.

If you have a reasonable level of body awareness and exercise common sense, you’ll be fine.  Seriously.  Try it.  And if you have questions?  That’s what your teachers are for!  I love questions. I love it when people get interested enough about what they’re doing to think about it and have a question about it or response to it.  Yay.

So this is not permission to stop coming to class.  I like my job and I would like to keep it. This is homework to do in addition to class.  

Not sure where to start?

  • Do a favorite pose or sequence from class.  A few poses after I brushed my teeth in the morning.  I can’t even remember what I did except that standing crescent moon stretch because that was my favorite so I did it every single day.  Weird choice?  Maybe, but whatever.
  • Get a DVD, check out YouTube, or record a TV show.  My first Yoga DVD was MTV Yoga.  Don’t laugh, it’s actually a really good DVD with a practice that was challenging enough for me to keep me interested for the many months I did it in the evenings after work.
  • Make up your own thing.  Once I started getting more familiar with the fundamental poses, I used The Yoga Deck to practice with.  Again, seems a little corny, but it helped me learn how to put together my favorite poses in a sequence that made sense.  This might turn into a Freeform practice which I have much to say about in a future post.

My first yoga teacher talked a lot about philosophy and actually made the poses seem like not a big deal.  I don’t remember so much emphasis on specific alignment points as there are in classes now.  Maybe there was, but that’s not what I took from those classes.  I first learned that yoga was about feel whole and good, and that was something I could work on at home, which is what I did for several years until I started taking classes again, setting me on the path to be a yoga teacher.

So the takeaway for today is: 

Why do you do Yoga?  What inspires you? What goals do you have? 

Answering these questions can help you find the motivation to carve out some time to do some practice at home.

Next time ... some home practice tips!