Practicing Yoga At Home

A lot of new yoga students will think that taking their practice home is just as easy as walking into the studio with their mat and a water bottle but the challenges that come with developing a yoga practice based out of your house differ greatly than those presented by the studio atmosphere.

In a studio you’re in somewhat of a controlled environment. You have a teacher that’s been there for some time, knows the policies of the studio, has experience teaching in that location, and who has set the class up to work well within that studio’s atmosphere. You also have a particular setting with lighting that is adjusted for the class as well as music, decor, and even certain supplies, all of which are there to allow the students to have the best experience possible. In this way the students know what to expect when they show up for class and if any major changes are made they are usually announced and explained by the teacher prior to class.

In a studio you’re also surrounded by a group of people that, if not truly value, appreciate the setting of  yoga class and typically respect it’s standards of quietness and having phones, pagers and the like turned off. This also ties into the type of environment that is created for the yoga students as well as the type of teaching they receive. In a focused class, set in a studio, the teachings are likely to be a lot more personalized with each group and it’s less common for a teacher to be running the same routine of sequences again and again.

So for the most part in a studio you’re in a safe, quite space that is suited for yoga, surrounded by people who are focused on their own yoga, and usually experiencing a class that is tailored to your groups needs and challenges.

This is not how it is at home. Not at all.

First of all, who that lives in a modern day home has a house that is anywhere near as peaceful or calm as a yoga studio? Not many. Anyone that has a job, a family, friends, or even the most remote semblance of a life simply cannot have a house that functions in the same way a yoga studio would - it just doesn’t work. There are too many areas of our life that overlap and mesh with each other that would take over any area of the house meant only for yoga -unless you had a large budget to spend on building an entirely separate, closed off, yoga only room and had it under lock and key. Which is unlikely, to say the least.

So most of us are resigned to pushing coffee tables, couches, chairs, or beds out of the way, unrolling the mat, and quickly realizing we need to sweep or mop more often halfway through our first sun salutation.

Now the second thing to work around is the people in your life. We all love our family and our friends but “yoga time” may not make much sense to them. Which means that the odds of you being interrupted halfway through your practice are pretty good. Be it a phone call, a text, a new email popping up in your inbox, or a visitor barging into your room there are tons of ways that people can get in contact with you and trust me, the minute you sit down to start your yoga they’ll all decide they need to talk to you right that second.

The other part of a home practice that’s different is that (unless you’re paying for private coaching sessions) you’re probably working from a dvd, a book, or some yoga podcast you dug up from itunes as opposed to a live teacher. A live teacher who is standing right in front of you can help you adjust your poses, they can work with your particular strengths or weaknesses, and they will vary the routine of the class. A book will not.

Now this isn’t to say that a home practice is terrible or not worth even bothering with. Quite the contrary in fact, a home practice will eventually become the very core of our yoga practice as a whole and can teach you much more than a designated teacher-designed class. However, what’s first necessary is a foundation of yoga knowledge. Once you have a certain amount of experience with yoga you can begin to create your own sequences, design your own “classes” and be completely in control of how you do your yoga on a daily basis. This allows you to work with your own body each day to choose the best poses for that day and that time in a way that a teacher can’t - simply because they aren’t you and don’t know your body like you do.

Start out by attending regular classes and perhaps even look into teacher training just for the experience alone it can give you. Once you feel well-educated and firm in your comprehension of yoga then start taking your classes home and, with proper tools (mats, props etc) begin to create your own practice the way you want it to be. And remember to turn off your phone and tell everyone that “yoga time” is “your time”.