Yoga teachers try and try by any means possible to get their students to do home practice.
It seems counterproductive, in a way to, to encourage students to practice outside of class attendance. After all, it’s by students paying for classes that the teacher earns his/her livelihood. Class attendance and home practice are not mutually exclusive, though, and they actually build on each other to make the practitioner even more enthusiastic about yoga.
I was encouraged this evening when one of my new students told me she has taken on doing the supta padangusthasana (leg stretches) at home, without my even mentioning it, because she knows she needs to improve her flexibility.
One thing leads to another, and students may see after a time that there is more to yoga than physical improvements. They may experience, in their personal practice, a sense of calm, peace, and quiet that lets them connect with a part of themselves not usually encountered in the “outside world”
Michael Leunig, the much-loved Australian philosopher/writer/cartoonist, expresses what is possible in this passage from A Book of Common Prayer:
Your practice is like a daily ritual or ceremony whereby you spend time with yourself. Why this is important is that it’s not only an intellectual pursuit. It’s also poetic – a ceremonial affirmation of your values – the repetition of which carries an indelible and resonant quality into one’s heart. Each time you practice, something important is revitalised and strengthened. The garden is watered. Your ritual recognises the inner life and attempts to connect to it. This is a do-it-yourself ceremony, where the mind is on its knees – a small ceremony which calls on one’s soul to come forth. The garden is watered…..