There are so many options for yoga classes these days; in studios, gyms, schools, and even hotels. To be a serious and committed yogi doesn’t mean that you need to be attending a group class regularly though. You might discover that having a consistent home yoga practice is how you’ll fall in love with and increase your commitment to this healing art.
Practicing yoga in a group setting definitely has it’s benefits:
- You’re likely to connect with like-minded people in yoga classes
- Attending studio events is a great way to build community.
- It’s also important to seek out a teacher that you resonate with, who is also accessible to you and the community.
- Working with a teacher who gives you feedback and who points out unhelpful habits or imbalances is invaluable.
- The energy of group classes can make practicing yoga fun & motivating.
Group classes are wonderful for so many reasons! Yet, they may not be enough to fulfill you.
Here’s 10 reasons why I prefer practicing yoga at home and why I encourage all my students to develop a home practice too.
10 Reasons Why You Should Do A Home Yoga Practice
1. It’s easier to be mindful
Mindfulness is the essence of yoga. It’s an inner process of observation and reflection; a state of being that is more difficult to connect with if there are outside distractions (that inevitably exist in group classes). At home, you have more control over the environment. It’s just you and your thoughts that you have to work with, which is challenging enough!
2. You can practice whatever you want, in your own timing
The pace of group classes is unique to the teacher’s style. Practicing at home, you can choose to stay less time, or longer if you’re like me and enjoy sinking into the experience each asana has to offer.
You can also spend more time in postures that will correct imbalances and do less of the ones that create them.
(For example, with my body, I’m stronger in my upper body to the point where I accumulate too much tension while my lower body is not as strong. I need to ground my energy too, so I’ve been doing sessions mainly of standing and seated postures with just headstand and shoulderstand as my upper-body-focused postures. Then I rest and meditate. I’m feeling much more balanced! It would be much harder to achieve this in a led class.)
3. There’s no self-consciousness or competition
It’s very challenging to practice in a group class without noticing what others are doing. Our minds habitually like to compare ourselves to others. While it’s good to notice and work with these habits, again, it’s just one more distraction. Practicing alone allows you to experience yoga without feeling superior or inferior to anyone.
4. You can create more time to relax deeply
Do you need to insert some restorative postures or extend your final rest in Savasana? You could do them in a group class too, but many people get too caught up with what everyone else is doing and fail to listen to cues from their bodies that are asking for more rest. You’re more likely to honor your body in a home practice.
5. You’ll develop greater discipline and commitment
No doubt, for most people it takes more discipline to adopt a home practice than to attend a group class where people might be expecting you. Your commitment will grow once you see how valuable your personal practice is though. Then, there’s no excuse to not do it! You can take your practice with you on vacation and can alter it when you’re sick. It becomes part of your daily health habits, just like brushing your teeth.
6. You’re likely to progress quicker
As I already mentioned, individualized attention means that you can focus on what you need and how much of it. Therefore, you’re going to see yourself progress much quicker, especially if you’re doing a personal practice everyday.
7. You can make your own schedule
To commit to a home practice, it’s nice to do it at a certain time of the day so you’re less likely to blow it off. I try to do mine early in the morning while my son is still asleep. It feels good to have exercised my body a little and have a bank of mindfulness to pull from for the rest of the day.
8. You’ll model self-care for your children
I know, it’s hard to carve out time to practice when you have young children in the home. Like me, you may prefer to do it early in the morning while they’re sleeping. But, I also enjoy doing a restorative practice at night as well, with my son near by.
It’s very important for kids to see you practicing yoga. You can establish boundaries with them so they learn to respect your time and space. They will see the importance you’re placing on self-care and will teach them a lot about how to care for themselves deeply as well.
9. You can meet & respect your inner teacher
Teachers can help you see certain aspects of yourself that are not apparent, but it always comes back to awareness, opening your mind, and accepting all that you are in order to meet your true self.
With a home practice, you’ll learn to look inside for guidance and trust what comes up. You start looking to yourself for answers instead of assuming that you need permission from others or that others have more wisdom than you. This is absolutely not true! No one knows you as you (can potentially) know yourself. This is precisely why I recommend that my own students have their own practice.
I love this quote from Rolf Sovik in his article Recognizing the Guru:
When students lean too heavily on the compassion of the teacher, another aspect of the guru’s nature is revealed. Teachers nurture the disciplines of practice. If our dependency becomes too strong, a teacher will often awaken our practice by stepping back. The Buddha put it very simply when he said, “Light thine own lamp.”
10. You’re more likely to experience Yoga
There are many definitions of Yoga.
…cessation of the fluctuations of the mind (Yoga Sutra)
…yoking or joining together of the many aspects of the Self
…ability to evolve spiritually from where we are now
All are possible, but only when we can commit to being alone with ourselves every day. A home yoga practice is how you can develop this degree of self-love.