Benefits of Developing a Home Yoga Practice
Thank you, Yoga Journal, for this article about the benefits of a home yoga practice. I much prefer practicing yoga in the studio with a teacher and other students. But I think yogis shouldn’t limit their entire practices to those types of classes. Here are just a few of my own observations since having a home yoga practice:
The Yoga Studio Environment…at home
Developing a home practice takes a lot of self discipline because your home may not necessarily be designed for yoga practice. Space, lighting, kids, spouses, pets, and neighbors all seem to get in the way. These were, by far, my greatest obstacles in committing to practicing yoga at home. It is still challenging, to be honest, but I face it and work through it.
Of course it would be nice if I lived with other people who had the same mindset that required daily doses of peace, quiet, and solitude, but that’s hardly the real world; and what benefit is any yoga or meditation practice if I have to be sequestered just to access it? I still have to ask people to be quiet just prior to starting my practice. And I still have to turn my own music up to drown out the rest of the noisy distractions because I don’t live in a yoga studio or retreat center, much to my own dismay. Though I quite dislike having to ask for peace and quiet, I’ll do it just so I can do yoga at home; and I think it sends a message to those around me that my home practice is important enough to me that I’ll do something unpleasant just so I can practice. People are creatures of habit; they may not have noticed it on their own just yet, but eventually they will, and eventually, I won’t have to ask every time.
Maybe you need to bring a little bit of yoga studio peace into your home by finding the right time & setting the right environmental mood. But maybe you also need to bring a bit of yoga studio attitude/mindset into your home practice by focusing only on your mat, your breathing, your body instead of various other distractions. By practicing at home in the midst of noise and distraction, I have found that I can access meditative/mindful peace while my husband and brother-in-law are playing their video games, while I’m in line at the grocery store (a place I truly loathe), or even in traffic! It certainly helps in the yoga studio too! When a cell phone goes off during savasana, or the class in the other studio is particularly rowdy, it doesn’t faze me now.
Show your work!
When you limit your yoga practice to once or twice a week at a studio, you limit your growth and potential. Maybe that’s all your schedule will allow, and if so, take whatever you can get. But even with the busiest of schedules, if you add 20 or 30 minutes of home practice just twice a week to your studio practice, that work will start to show in your studio classes. Maybe you dislike pigeon pose in class because you can’t grab your back leg. But if you practice it a couple extra times a week outside of class, you will get there. Maybe you can’t do plank or side plank; but if you do wall pushups at home a few times a week, you will get there.
The benefit of studio yoga is that a teacher is with you, telling you where you should feel things and helping adjust your body to proper alignment. It is important to be mindful of what this feels like so you can repeat it at home. With greater repetition (at home), you will become stronger and more able to do it in class. So if yoga classes are kicking your butt, try doing bits and pieces of it at home for homework. I guarantee you when you return to class, both you AND your yoga teacher will notice your hard work. As you get stronger and more able, your teacher will likely “reward” you with more challenging poses or sequences. Eventually, you’ll be amazed at all you can do!
Follow until you can lead.
Maybe you need someone to cue you as to what you should do. That’s super easy to fix with a video! You can go out and buy yoga videos at about any store, but there are free ones on the internet. Here are some of my favorite yoga videos from You Tube. They helped me follow a set rhythm until I could do it on my own without someone else cueing me.
Sun Salutations: This video is about 15 minutes of sun salutations. There are five short salutes and five long salutes. As a beginner I found this video challenging, but it is GREAT for developing breath coordination and strength. I highly recommend getting warmed up with something like this. If you can only devote 20 minutes to your home practice, then I recommend doing just this video two or three times a week.
Hip Openers: This video is almost 45 minutes long, and it is really good at opening the hips, which is something many yoga teachers try to work on in their classes. When I first started trying to practice at home, before finding the Sun Salutations video, this was the ONE video I did twice a week in addition to my once-weekly studio class. I enjoy starting with the Sun Salutation video and continuing with either this one or the next two videos for a full practice that’s almost an hour long.
Yoga for Office Workers: If you sit at a desk and type all day, you likely have tension in your shoulders and upper back, and you may even find it difficult to support yourself in downward facing dog and plank poses. If your wrists or shoulders tend to hurt in down-dog or plank, then you might benefit from a yoga sequence designed for people who suffer from carpel-tunnel syndrome. I still do this video as needed when I feel tense or weak in my wrists, shoulders, and upper back.
Short, Target Zone Videos: Maybe you want to focus on one specific area of your body. When I run, I like to do a sequence of yoga stretches for about 20-30 minutes before my run. I don’t get to do this on Wednesdays because I go straight from work to my run, but I LOVE my weekend runs because I start with a long period of yoga stretches. I recommend these videos for targeting specific areas on your body, or for prepping for running:
When I run:
When I need a break:
There are challenges to developing a home yoga practice, but hopefully after reading this post you see the benefit of devoting even the smallest chunks of time to it. Also, I hope you see how easy I’ve made it by giving you links to videos that have worked for me. I don’t use videos that often anymore, but that’s only because I practiced with them long enough to learn how to use and adapt them to exactly what I need. Go ahead and do some yoga at home!
Posted on December 11, 2012, in Life Lessons, Peaceful Life, Yoga and tagged chaturangas, core yoga, hip-opening yoga, home yoga practice, restorative yoga, yoga, yoga for running, yoga for shoulders, yoga nidra. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.