Everyone who does yoga can benefit from a home practice. There is something wonderful about moving through space in your own space. Be it mental space. Emotional space. Or physical space. Have you noticed how the light is in the morning? Or how serene it is? And full of possibilities. What a great way to start the day – with yoga.
Yoga is a journey and through heart-opening poses, for example, we can release the deeper and hidden parts of ourselves that are ready to be unstuck. Being in your own home allows yourself the time required for this to unfold, gently, explosively, tearfully, and however that is natural and healing for you. Your own sanctuary provides the privacy, safety, and flexibility for such a personal experience and for many, a necessary foundation to draw out what needs to be expressed.
Yoga is about being gentle with yourself, getting to know yourself, and being in union with all aspects of being.
The physical poses in yoga prepare the body for meditation. This is not to say yoga is the only route to a solid meditation practice or that meditation must follow or be part of every yoga practice. It is a personal choice. Asanas do help the body and mind sit in long meditative poses that bring inner peace, mindfulness, and heightened awareness.
Meditation has been shown to have an extensive list of health benefits. With so many distractions, work deadlines, and time crunch, sitting down for even a few minutes for many people is no small task.
Why not allow the body to naturally find stillness after a practice of asanas?
Many yoga classes, however, end with (a much too short) savasana and do not include meditation.
Of course, yoga does not have to be spiritual for everyone.
In fact yoga has become very popular in fitness gyms and has helped many people regain physical health, body awareness, and a newfound appreciation of their own body and oftentimes of life itself. That, in itself, is already so very healing. What would the world look like if we all truly deeply loved and accepted ourselves unconditionally?
Because of its popularity outside of India and Asia, many modern-day yoga practitioners do not come from yoga traditions. It makes absolute sense to study with a teacher, preferably one-on-one when first starting. There are also many foundation courses or small-sized classes just for beginners. It is difficult for a teacher to check on everyone’s alignment in a large class.
Many students, especially those who are fit and flexible, often mistake the process of getting into a pose for being purely physical. Simply because it is easy for them, and so they can. There is a difference between striking a pose and moving into one, with mind, body, and spirit aligned. Even in the most seemingly simple poses, there are many subtleties and nuances in what the body is doing.
While it is strongly recommended to start any yoga practice with a teacher, it is also important to remember that in life, we are our own best teachers. From different people, we learn and improve skills, expose ourselves to newt ideas, stimulations, inspiration, and experiences. There is a saying that when we are ready, the teacher will come. What if we are that teacher we have been waiting for? The ultimate is seeking and finding the wisdom that lies within.
Building and maintaining a home practice is space in which a person can find many opportunities to reveal the gold that lies waiting to be mined. It is unlike following absent-mindedly to a teacher through a yoga class, no matter how great that teacher or class is, and having to check in with yourself and decide what to do on any particular day. Many people start with a Sun Salutation and follow with a series of poses that they want to improve on, or perhaps they need more hip opening after an especially long day at the desk. This is a great opportunity to listen more closely to your body to hear what it needs, before it screams.
Many home practitioners also do online classes, which can offer much more variety than a local yoga studio. It is easy to change your mind last minute and do an online class that addresses what is important to you when you practice.
Depending on a person’s lifestyle and social circumstances, a home practice can take quite a lot of effort and discipline. It is easy to get distracted. Sometimes you find your dog or your cat waiting for you in the middle of your mat, or they decide to make you their jungle gym. There are both expected and unexpected disturbances, that may require us to get up in the early hours of the morning and be really dedicated and focused.
While some people may see this as a nuisance, it is actually another opportunity to practice single-mindedness, a very useful skill in a time when multi-tasking has eroded our ability to concentrate.
These are just a few of the many good reasons to have a home practice. You can take it with you anywhere, when you travel, and there are no more excuses about the weather.