Against the common belief, we don’t have to take yoga classes to practice yoga. While it’s helpful to take classes guided by a teacher in the beginning, it is actually far more effective to also practice on your own.
When you have already learned some yoga poses and techniques, you can easily practice them at home too (Just be careful to not hurt yourself in the process okay?). I’m not saying that you shouldn’t go to yoga classes at all anymore, no, Yoga classes are a wonderful way to learn and to connect and definitely worth visiting, but in my opinion self practice just gets yoga to a completely different level.
There are many advantages to self practice and these are the most important ones:
- You can do it everywhere
As you don’t need a teacher for your self practice you can easily do it at home, outside in the garden or in your office chair. You don’t even need a lot of space. Just the space of your mat is enough (even though you have to be aware of the surrounding objects so that you don’t hurt yourself, of course). Alternatively, you can also be creative and do little flows on your bed or using the wall as a prop. Try out different things and you’ll have a lot of fun.
- It’s good for the busy ones amongst us
As you don’t need to drive to a studio or visit a teacher, you safe a lot of time. In addition to that you can vary the length of your practice to just what you feel like or have the time for. Some days I will do practice for hours, staying in stretches for what feels like a thousand breaths, other times I just do some 10 minutes of sun salutations and stretches. It all depends on how I feel.
- Your practice is directly suited for you
In a class you have to go along with the instructions of a teacher, in your practice you just listen to yourself. That means you can work on exactly those areas that you would like to work on, stay in the asanas as long as you like and go with your own pace. All of this is immensely beneficial for your wellbeing and can be a lot of fun because you can do whatever you like. Furthermore you really learn to listen to your body and to respect how you feel.
- It saves money
Let’s admit it yoga can be expensive. While it’s recommended to start out with a teacher so that you protect yourself from injuries, it’s definitely less expensive to just do it on your own.
- It’s just fun!
As I already said, you can do whatever you want. Want to make it more of a dance-party-style flow with your favorite music on? Do it! Want to stay in that hip-opener for an hour? Okay! (Just be careful please.) You can really do everything because your self practice belongs to you and only you.
In the begging it may feel awkward to stand on your mat completely without the guidance of your teacher, so here are some tips to help you through that first confusion:
1. Start with warming up your joints
Do some joint movements, roll out your neck, do some cat and cow movements, just free up every joint that you are going to use during the practice.
2. Warm-up your body with a flow
Do some sun salutations or similar flows to get your body moving and increase the heart rate. It is really important to be properly warmed up before attempting more difficult poses as you risk injury if you just hop into them.
3. Include stretching as well as. strengthening poses
Yoga is all about creating balance so you have to work your body in all areas. Naturally we tend to do more of what’s easier for us but to really get all the benefit it is important challenge ourselves and balance our body. That’s of course easier said than done and I also fall into that trap a lot (That’s why after 3 years of Yoga I can easily drop into a split without being warmed up but still can’t do a proper chaduranga. It’s just human.).
You don’t have to go along the beaten path. You can just make up your own rhythm and style. It is up to you. I for example love to do really fluid, kind of dance inspired flows that just feel good.
5. Challenge yourself (but be careful)
In self practice it’s all about evolving your Yoga practice. So of course we need to challenge ourselves. Maybe you should set yourself a goal for that special pose you want to learn? Or maybe you want to try a completely ne one? You can do it! Just make sure that you don’t overdue it, too much ambition can easily result in injury.
6. Always end with shavasana
Always, always,always finish off your practice with shavasana. Even though just like on the floor may seem unproductive, it’s really the most important asana. In this pose you calm your body down and give it a chance to really absorb the benefit of all the wonderful things you just did. So relax and take this time to be grateful for having shown up for your practice today
Bonus feature: Include some breathing exercises and meditation at the beggining or end of your practice.
Even if you don’t meditate, just try it out. It will enhance the benefit of your practice, will leave you calmer and more centered.
❗️And most importantly: Stay aware during your practice and focus on your breath to move according to it.
This is the most essential part of your yoga practice. Awareness of the breath will make you feel relaxed, refreshed and with more mental clarity. In this way you get the most out of your practice and earn all the wonderful benefits yoga offers.
If you stay consistent with your practice I promise you will see great changes in your body and mind. It’s an easy, fun and cheap way to grow and evolve your practice. So why don’t you just try it out now?