Why I Love My Home-Practice
When I first started yoga, I would go to class every day. I eventually started asking questions about what to do if I wanted to practice at home or while on vacation. My yoga teacher at the time wasn’t forthcoming with information. A photocopy of some yoga poses and a suggestion to do a teacher training was all I got. Back then there wasn’t as much yoga on the Internet as there is today. So of course, I did the teacher training for my own personal practice.
I bought a few books and discovered Kino MacGregor’s YouTube channel. This was one of the main reasons I stuck with Ashtanga. There is no need to sequence poses, make a flow or wonder if I did too many backbends or too few balancing poses. All I had to do was remember the order of the poses. The primary series has standing poses, seated poses, twists, balancing poses, forward folds, backbends, inversions, hip openers, and more. It gives you clear guidelines as to what to focus on. You can spend years practicing the primary series and still find new awareness in each asana. Learn how to still your mind and keep your attention on your breath. I have practiced yoga on my own for several years, but I make an effort to see my teacher at least once a year.
Since my recent move, I am very close to two authorized Ashtanga teachers. I was longing to have a constant practice with a teacher for quite some time. Practicing alongside other ashtangis can be energizing. Practicing under the guidance of a teacher who understands my fears and struggles, and helps me with correct alignment and technique gives me security. Having the opportunity to meet new yogis and be part of a yoga community gives me a sense of belonging.
Practicing solo or with a teacher has many benefits and each person has their valid reasons to practice where they feel is most beneficial to them. I recognize the importance of practicing with a qualified teacher, but I have also learned a lot from my home practice; most importantly discipline. You practice every day, whether you want to or not, whether you see progress or not. It’s not about doing every single posture you have been given but doing them with awareness. After practicing with a teacher or attending a workshop, I come back to a new home practice. Being assisted or corrected in certain asanas or given new asanas always leads to figuring out how to do postures on my own or with new awareness.
I have also noticed when I have doubts, they can’t always be answered by the teacher. They don’t have all the answers. With time my doubts either vanish or get answered through my practice. Practicing at a shala doesn’t get me anywhere faster. A teacher can’t do the work for me, although they may point me in the right direction.
I cherish my home practice. I really enjoy practicing on my own, in my little spot at home or while on holiday. I am not bound to a time frame. I don’t have to rush through my practice or make it to the shala 90 minutes before class is over.
When I practice on my own, I don’t feel like I have to get it all right. I am not concerned with repeating postures, trying them another way, or going deeper. The practice of asana isn’t only about the physical body; many times I am working through emotional and mental blocks, so I have to be patient and give myself time to decipher what is going on. At times there is mental chatter and distractions abound, but that is just a reflection of my daily life.
I do yoga because I want to, not because I have to pay someone to hold me accountable for what I do on my mat. I respect and honor all those who share and teach yoga. I have learned a great deal from all my yoga teachers and will still continue to go to class, workshops, and trainings. I am grateful to have cultivated my home practice.