Benefits of home yoga practice
Your yoga teacher, if she’s like me, has been harping on for years about the benefits of home yoga practice. Since many schools will have a limited schedule during the upcoming holidays, why not practice at home? Doing home yoga practice will allow you to keep up with your yoga and even improve it.
The main advantage to practising at home (or at the beach or on a mountain top) is that you have your hands on the dial. You aren’t being told what to do. You can adapt and adjust postures. You can try new practices or emphases.
You can do as much as you like and explore the poses and practices that appeal to you. In the quiet space of your personal practice, you tune in to your body’s needs. This is harder to do in a group class with a teacher instructing you. Alone, you can track your progress. You’ll see what contributes the most to your well-being and evolution.
How do you get started with home yoga practice?
Okay, now we’ve come to the ‘C’ word – committing. The simplest answer on to how to start is that you first decide the amount of time to give to yoga. You commit to that and then just do it.
For a beginner, a manageable commitment might be doing a 15-20 minute session, three times a week. During your holidays, you could commit to this schedule for the forthright or month of your break.
Do your practice at the same time of day and on the same days of the week. This will create consistency.
Consistency is the key to successful practice. It builds a habit, a neuronal pathway or a psychological groove. This momentum will carry you along even when your mind or life tries to pull you in other directions.
I know from experience that there are times when I’m tempted to break my routine. I’m human. But I’m always glad after the fact that I did my practice, not the least because I kept my commitment.
There’s an element of faith in the beginning. You’re hoping that you’ll feel as good at the end of your practice as you do at the end of your class sessions. But your faith in yoga practice will be validated. The more practice you do, the more effective your sessions become.
You might even begin to notice some unexpected positive effects in your life. When I was a beginning yogi, on one occasion, I was doing a yoga relaxation. As I completed it, I had a profound experience of letting go, both physically and emotionally. In the quiet of my relaxation period, I felt tears of relief rolling down my cheeks. Then, I had a startling insight. The thing that had been holding me together was my tension.
As a result of doing regular relaxations, I began to experience life without the pressures of driving myself all the time. It was the beginning of taking a relaxed way of being into my everyday activities.
Yoga practitioners often work with an intention for their practices. It’s called a San Kulpa in Sanskrit. It’s a promise to yourself about what you are planning to do, what you are manifesting. This positive resolution could be, perhaps, that you intend to practice yoga at the times you set out. Or, that you intend to feel relaxed and rejuvenated at the end of your practice. Or, that you see yourself healing on all levels through your practice.
Through my commitment to home practice, yoga has become a companion for life, with all its inherent ups-and-downs. It’s been there for me in times of illness, injury, post-surgery, mid-life crises, menopause, and retirement.
I say to anyone who isn’t doing home yoga practice, start now! Befriend yoga, so you can have a dependable companion for life.
I love the work of Michael Leunig, Australian philosopher, poet and writer. Leunig talks about doing a daily ritual in his book, A Common Prayer. He might as well be describing home yoga practice.
Each time it occurs, something important is revitalised and strengthened. The garden is watered.