Do you practice yoga at home? That might seem like an odd question to some who have an established home practice, but for those who do not, that question can cause a lot of turmoil – as in feeling a little guilty about it.
A home practice, while not essential, can be one of the best ways for us to get what yoga truly has to offer: A better relationship with ourselves.
One of my favorite descriptions of yoga is that it is the ‘science of self-exploration’. That in a nutshell is what it is all about. The poses, the stretching, the chanting, that is all nice, but the essence of yoga goes much deeper than the surface. The essence of yoga is an all encompassing look in the mirror. We might not like what we see, we might be pleasantly surprised, but what yoga wants us to do is reflect on ourselves.
This is where a home practice becomes one of the best tools we can have at our beck and call. Going to a yoga class can be a pleasant physical exertion. It can show us things about poses we didn’t know. It can be a way to interact with like minded people. Yet, going to a yoga class can also take us away from ourselves. It can distract us from looking deeper. Going to a yoga class can actually get in the way of our progress if that is the only time we experience yoga.
Don’t get me wrong. It is nice to be led through a wonderfully thought out routine and end up peacefully relaxing after appropriate exertion. What I am talking about is when we only go to yoga classes and never try to do any practice at home.
I think some people avoid home practice because they are new to yoga and don’t know what to do. Others avoid it because they don’t think they have time. For these two issues, the solution is simple. Just do one or two poses then relax and focus on deepening your breath. A home practice does not need to last as long as a yoga class. For most, 20 minutes spent doing yoga is all that is needed to reap the benefits of home practice.
If you don’t currently have a home practice, try this. During your next yoga class, focus on one or two of the poses presented to you. It might be a good idea to jot a few notes down about how to properly perform the pose. Set aside about 20 minutes within a day of that class and do your one or two poses. If you get done before your 20 minutes are up, relax the remainder of the time. Repeat those poses every other day until you get back to your next group class, then choose two more poses. In time you will have a working home practice that lasts about 20 minutes every other day. You will be amazed at the improvement of your skills, but more importantly, you will be creating a better relationship with yourself.
What are your thoughts on home practice? IF you have a home practice, what do you typically do?