The Benefits of a Home Yoga Practice
by Samantha Cullen
There’s not much I enjoy more than going to a yoga class. The energy created from being in a roomful of like-minded people practicing together can’t compare to much else. Seeing the monumental shifts yoga can create in people’s lives is important to witness as a community. For most of us life is very busy and, personally, I need more yoga than I actually have the time for. I often find myself rushing off to class feeling more stressed from trying to make it to class in time, thus losing some of the joy of the class itself once I get there. Because of this, I’ve started to incorporate more at-home yoga practice into my schedule. I’m finding that practicing at home teaches me things I would not find in a class. I’ve often wanted to practice at home, but instead made up excuses such as not having the right floors; it being too cold, or too hot; or that there are just too many distractions at home. Despite the summer heat and the creaky floorboards, I’ve been rolling my mat out and going for it nonetheless. Here are some of the benefits I’m discovering from practicing at home.
You don’t have to be perfect. You know how we sometimes strive for perfection when we’re in class? And of course there’s nothing wrong with that, but it can seem as though we’re always trying to be perfect; our relationships, work, family, life—it can get exhausting! Practicing at home gives us a little break from that, and takes a bit of the pressure off our expectations. At home, there’s no teacher to please and no particular clothes to wear, so we can simply be ourselves.
It builds discipline. So your iPhone is on the kitchen table, as is your computer—not to mention that pile of dishes calling you out in the sink. These distractions are actually great opportunities to practice non-reaction. Practicing at home takes some extra discipline, which can transform how we respond to those tempting objects that surround us, ready to divert our attention from ourselves.
It offers us freedom to choose. Often I find myself in an Ashtanga class when my body really needs to be doing Yin, or vice versa. With a home practice we have the freedom to choose what pose to do next based on what we need that day. We see that we actually know a lot more than we think we do. If we close our eyes and listen to our bodies for a few moments, the movement we truly crave can emerge.. Practicing at home offers us the option to make our practice more instinctual, without the constraints of a set agenda.
There’s no rushing out the door. Rushing to yoga can be maddening—trust me, I’ve done this. The beauty of practicing at home (especially in the morning) is that you don’t need to be anywhere—you literally can step out of bed and breathe into a forward fold.
It doesn’t cost a thing. Now I love to support anything related to yoga and do not hesitate spending money on it. That said, it’s not cheap, and for those of us on budgets who still want to practice every day, sustaining a yoga practice can be challenging. So, why not spend on a few less classes a week by doing it at home?
If you’re finding that you need more yoga than there is time for, try incorporating some home practices into your schedule, even if they are short. As Kripalu Yoga teacher Rudy Peirce says, “Having a home yoga practice is just convenient: location wise, time wise…not to mention economically. And convenience is critical when you have a busy life. The best yoga practice, for me, is a practice I will do—and can do—which means it’s better to have more frequent short practices than long infrequent ones. If I can start off my day with even five minutes of yoga, I have more realistic goals for my day, and these goals become obtainable.”
So go for it! Roll out your mat and see what happens.
Samantha Cullen is an actor and yoga teacher who writes a blog, The Yoga of Cake.
© Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. All rights reserved. To request permission to reprint, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.