I love going to a yoga class. Or on retreat. I really enjoy the community that exists around practising yoga. But ultimately, yoga is about your own journey, the connection with your body and your breath. If you really to feel the benefits of yoga, whatever they are for you, you are going to want to step (bravely) away from a class and into self-practice at some point.
I’m going to talk about how you can do that in a later post; firstly, here are a few reasons why you should practise on your own.
You don’t need much to practise yoga. There is only one essential: you! A mat is a nice-to-have but not a requirement; you don’t even need a lot of space. This means you can practise whenever and wherever you like, so no need to fit your life around a class schedule. Find a time and place that works for you and go for it!
No time limits
In a similar vein, you can practise for as long or as little as you want. Regular practice is the key to improving at anything; it doesn’t need to be an hour long class, even 10 minutes every day will help you start to feel the benefits of yoga. I am already feeling better from practising every day over the last week; it’s easier to get up in the morning, I ache less at work, I have more energy throughout the day.
Practise how you feel
I think it’s great to be challenged in a class, especially if you’re lacking energy, but the beauty of a self-practice is that you can tailor your practice around how you are feeling. Want to really push yourself today? Go for it with a fast-flowing vinyasa practice. Maybe you’re feeling run-down and just want to relax with some restorative yoga – I’ve been doing this a lot over the past week. Or perhaps you’re working towards a challenging posture and want to focus on postures to help you reach your goal. You can do anything you want in self-practice because you are the only person that matters.
Let’s face it – yoga can be an expensive business these days. The average price of a class in London seems to be about £15 and that’s before you’ve thought about travel or having the “right” clothes. Practising on your own is free and who cares what you’re wearing!
Discover what yoga really means for you
People practise yoga for all sorts of reasons: to be more flexible, to get stronger, to feel more grounded. Maybe all of those things apply to you; maybe you haven’t quite worked that out yet. Yoga teachers can guide you through your journey but they can’t do it for you. I would really recommend going to classes and learning from as many different teachers as you can but you are the one who needs to put the work in and discover what ignites your passion for yoga. For me, it’s those little moments of peace and quiet in my head, where the rest of the world and all my worries just back off for a while; I just feel a sense of space and lightness after practising.
There is no right or wrong way to practise yoga (as long as you are staying safe and listening to our body) so play around with the practice. Have fun. Enjoy it! Put on loud music; laugh; experiment with postures and flow. Whatever you want – it’s your practice.
I’m now a week into my challenge of practising yoga every day. It was a rather inauspicious start but I’ve managed to keep it up so far. It’s not always easy, even finding 10 minutes can be tricky on some days – I practised in bed this morning as I was staying with my sister and I know I will be home late tonight. I’ve been doing short sessions so far but am planning a couple of longer practices over the weekend when I have a bit more time.
So over to you. Do you have a self-practice? How do you find it? What do you think the benefits are?