How many yoga studios do you have in your town? Chances are at least several, even if you live in a super small one.
Yoga has made waves in the past couple of decades. A 2012 study by Yoga Journal, the largest online and print yoga publication, found that more than 20 million people in the U.S. were practicing yoga.
Now, three years later, the numbers are sure to be much higher. As the benefits of yoga have been thoroughly researched and proven, and yoga has gained so much credibility as a healing science, new yoga studios continue to pop up constantly to serve the ever-burgeoning number of practitioners.
So the question is, why practice at home when there are an abundance of studios at your convenience with knowledgeable and friendly instructors ready to guide you?!
Our last home yoga article provided tips for setting up your practice space. This week we’ll explore the benefits of developing a home yoga practice.
Fight the stress of getting to yoga class on time.
If you’ve taken class at a studio you’re probably familiar with this irony: it’s been an overwhelming day and you need your yoga pick-me-up more than ever, yet from stand-still traffic to a flat tire, it seems every obstacle that could present itself does, and you miss your much-needed class.
The beauty of a home practice is that it’s always available for you when you decide to make the time. No schedule, no being turned away because you arrived more than 10 or 15 minutes late, and less stress about rushing to get there. That in and of itself is reason enough to get your “om” on at home.
Release yourself from the confines of a set schedule. When you learn to practice at home, even with a video (and even more so in your own free-form practice — which I’ll talk more about later), you get to choose the focus of your practice, the style, the length of time you’ll practice and the pace.
When you have the freedom of choice you learn to be guided by and trust your own voice. This is the essence of yoga, an inward process (pratyahara — withdrawal of the senses) we become acquainted with our own innate wisdom through taking the time to tune in and listen to our bodies.
The space is yours.
Another perk of practicing at home is that you get to design your own space and make it comfortable and pleasing to you. Plus, you have the room to move your limbs freely without having someone else’s mat crammed next to yours — truly making your space your own.
You have the time to play and advance your practice.
Out of convenience for the consumer, most classes at your typical U.S. yoga studio are “open” or mixed-level, meaning appropriate for all levels. Within these classes a skilled teacher will offer less challenging modifications for newer or injured practitioners and more advanced options for more seasoned yogis. But more than likely, the first time you’re given parsva bakasana (side crow), an intermediate level arm balance, in class, it ain’t happenin’!
Poses like these need extra practice and more time to play than is generally allotted in a 60- to 90-minute class. Once you’ve established your home practice, this is the perfect time to explore those more challenging poses that were only given five or so minutes in class. Self-inquiry and play here provide a fun way to deepen your practice.
A home practice builds discipline.
Tapas, translated as “fiery discipline” is one of the five niyamas, or observances, within the Eight Limbs of Yoga as composed in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. I in no way mean to imply through this article that developing a home yoga practice is what we would call “easy,” but, you know what? It builds discipline, which in turn builds a sense of achievement, which in turn boosts confidence, and then mental health. Get the picture? This stuff is good!
Yes, life is expensive these days, and yoga is no different. But practicing free-form or to the wealth of Yoga YouTube videos out there is no cost! Enough said.
Self-discovery and empowerment.
What could be better than this? Through practicing on your own, you will develop a heightened conscious awareness of who you are, and your relationship with yourself will change. Trust me, when I began practicing with dedication about 12 years ago, yoga helped me overcome poor body image and a number of faulty thinking patterns I had developed as a byproduct of living. Yoga helps us find satya (truth) through the process of self-inquiry. Experience your inner wisdom, and gain confidence through this realization.
No wonder the Yoga Journal study found that 44 percent of yogis preferred a home practice. There are so many reasons to give it a try.
Stay connected to read more articles about the home yoga practice coming soon!