Attending classes are a tremendous way to be introduced to yoga and to enjoy the comraderie of others.
I was completely hooked on classes when I learned Iyengar yoga in the early 80’s. I can’t believe it now, but I used to do more than one class a day. I think the cost of a class was $8 then, and the price went down to $5 if you were enrolled in the six-month teachers’ training course. Come to think of it, all the classes were two hours long! I don’t know if I was passionate or just obsessed. I did learn a lot in a period of about 3 years and I met people who are still important in my life. Two of them are co-proprietors of the property where I live.
In 1984 I went to the Iyengar Institute in Poona, India, for six weeks. I signed up for one class a day six days a week, and one practice session each day. Self-directed practice was a novelty to me. Maybe this is true of you, too. Something that we know is good for us, like brain gym exercises, which we will do one day.
The Institute practice sessions were attended by members of the Iyengar family, including the renowned B.K.S. How daunting was that – a novice practitioner laying down her mat and trying to figure out what to do in the presence of the Master. Baptism by fire, yes, but it was enough to set me on the path of personal practice, even continuing when I returned to Australia.
I’d like to say I never looked back (but that would be an infringement of a few of the Yama!). Eventually, I learned something from the experience of putting myself on the mat regularly and frequently: yoga is really an inside job.
Classes can keep you distracted by other students and even by the teacher and you might miss this salient inside job point. Keep your own quiet company and your yoga practice whispers things to you. You develop instincts and a kind of internal compass for what you need.
Don’t get me wrong. Hey, I want and need students to teach in classes. It’s enjoyable to be in a group and to be told what to do. Teachers know really useful things, mainly stuff they’ve learned from their own practice.
But classes are not everything and the only way you’re going to find out is to go home and practice. Give it a serious go!