You’ve just floated out of your weekly yoga class and you feel wonderful. Wouldn’t it be great if you could find a way to feel this good every day? In the decade or so that I’ve been teaching yoga, many of my students have come up to me after class to ask how they can take their yoga further. By attending their weekly class, these students have tasted the many benefits yoga has to offer and they’re keen to learn how yoga can help enrich their lives further.
This is when I delight in sharing the joys of practising yoga at home. Taking your yoga home provides you with your own portable, oasis of calm. Regular practice can also expedite your mastery of that tricky posture you’ve been struggling with for some time. Perhaps most profoundly, it may also bring some of the more subtle rewards that yoga affords those who start to integrate it into their daily lives.
Long-time yoga teacher and author, Eve Grzybowski, couldn’t agree more: “In the beginning, we use yoga for the goals we want to achieve and these can be as diverse as experiencing fun and enjoyment to healing medical conditions and injuries,” she says. “Once we take up regular yoga practice, over time, yoga begins to shape us in unforeseen and unimaginable ways. Ultimately, we may evolve into the truest expression of ourselves.”
Eve is so passionate about sharing the benefits of cultivating a regular home practice that she is working on a book on this subject. She sums up why home practice is so important when she says, “Practising yoga at home promotes coming home to yourself, to your own rhythms, a centring process that’s so needed in today’s stressful world.”
Traditionally in India, yoga was taught one-on-one. The teacher would work with the student on an individually designed sequence suited to the student’s unique needs. From a therapeutic point of view, it makes sense then to develop the time, space and skills to practise your own yoga sequence that you can adjust according to your changing daily and seasonal needs.
In the West, we have adopted a group class situation as the norm. However, when you practise yoga with others you are more likely to tempt your natural tendency towards competitiveness. You look over at the mat next to you and see she is touching her toes easily, with her head on her shins, and you want to do that, too, right now! Ultimately, being motivated by these external comparisons is counter to the spirit of what yoga is all about: union and the diminishing of ego.
When you start to practise yoga regularly at home, it really becomes your yoga; you start to own your practice. You are able to tap into the changing rhythms of your body and emotions and adjust your practice accordingly. For example, if you are feeling tired or stressed, you can practise more gently and restoratively and work with, not against, your energy. This is a good option if you’re practising at day’s end — see sidebar “Tired Days Practice” for a simple restorative practice.