I love yoga. In fact, I even wrote yoga a thank you note after a much-needed class recently. It went something like this:
Thank you. . .
Always & forever,
and it got 9 “likes” on my Facebook page, so clearly others feel the same way.
The class that inspired the note was on a day that was particularly stressful. Now, I lead a pretty chill life, and despite the fact that my husband is in Afghanistan, I don’t really have much to be stressed about. However, sometimes things creep up, and sometimes I take on the stress of others around me more so than I should allow, so that day I found myself a little too wound up, clutter-brained, and negative, which are all feelings I don’t do too well with. Usually, when I find myself in that state, the last thing I want to do is yoga. I know, I know, most people go to yoga primarily for the stress reduction aspect of it, but I find that a long run, a boxing class, or a really tough WOD clear my mind more efficiently than a yoga class does.
Or so I had thought!
I had been dealing with a lot of stress this past winter, with the upcoming deployment plus the unknown of where I’d be and when over the next few months, year, two years. . . . and I was stressed because I didn’t have a good outlet. I wasn’t running much because I was having some funky foot pain, and I wasn’t doing much CrossFit because I was working at the gym and teaching yoga there, so any other time I had, I didn’t really want to be at the gym! I was trying to keep up with my home yoga practice, but I would find that I wouldn’t find my flow, I would get distracted, or I would find another reason to stop.
The dogs need to go out,
I should make more almond butter,
My internet connection is slow so the streamed class is freezing and it’s not helping me get zen,
Dave’s home, I should spend as much time with him as I can before he leaves,
Is that dust under the table? I should probably clean my whole house instead of do this,
I don’t like this teacher/class/DVD/website,
I don’t like thinking up my own practice,
I wish this room was heated,
. . . . and last but not least, I wouldn’t like where my mind would go sometimes when it would be working toward getting quiet. All of my thoughts that I would push down all day long – my fears, my worries, my stress – they would all of a sudden come to the forefront of my consciousness and they were uncomfortable to confront.
So, I bailed on my home practice.
Once or twice I did make the trek to a studio that was over a half hour away from me, because it had heat, an instructor, and a community of fellow yogis.
It made a world of difference. . .
Now that I am up north, I have had more convenient opportunities to practice in studios, and I don’t know if it is the sweat, the group environment, or having an instructor right there leading you through a class, but I am completely able to drop in and receive all of the awesomeness that is a yoga class. I would chose a studio class over a home practice ANY day.
However, there are many benefits to a home practice, and some may do better on their own than in a class environment. Here are a few examples of someone who might want to give a home practice a try.
-Do you push yourself beyond limitations to “show off” or just because you are inspired by the group setting? To be honest, I’m a sucker for this is in any other setting, but for some reason I do alright in a yoga class. Maybe it’s because yoga for me is to heal my body from the beat-downs I give it elsewhere, but I don’t feel the need to push or compete in yoga. In CrossFit on the other hand, I need to learn how to listen to my body better, and not worry about how much weight is on the other girl’s bar. If you can’t help but glance at the person on the mat next to you and if she’s standing on her head, you bet your butt you’re going to give it a try. . .a home practice might be a safer environment, because you won’t feel that need to go above and beyond and potentially hurt yourself.
-Are you a dude? Sometimes, guys don’t feel comfortable in a class setting because they might be the only guy, or they are worried about how much they are sweating, or the teacher might be super cute and they don’t want them touching their sweaty, smelly feet. If THAT is what is holding you back from taking a yoga class, PLEASE try some home practices, because you shouldn’t feel intimidated by yoga just because of the people around you. However, once you feel comfortable, please come take a yoga class at a studio. Guys doing yoga makes me so happy, and as an instructor, I promise you that no one cares how sweaty you are, or will think any less of you because you can’t touch your toes.
-Is there something you hate about typical yoga studios, such as the music, incense, chanting, being touched/adjusted, hearing other people’s loud breathing, etc.? Maybe incense give you a headache, or the music distracts you, or maybe you’ve had a bad experience where you passed gas in class, or fell onto your neighbor trying to do a headstand. At home, you can be as flatulent as you want, and topple over without fear of injuring anyone around you. You can also chose your own tunes, light your own candles, Om or not Om. You can make up your own practice, watch your favorite DVD, or maybe stream an online class where you can pick from a 15-minute slow flow to a 90-minute challenging sequence. Maybe you just want to meditate, or lay down with your legs up the wall for 20 minutes? With a home practice, you have more freedom.
Now, at different times of my life, a home practice has been wonderful. When I can’t afford to go to a studio, or my schedule doesn’t allow me the time, or maybe I’m just not feeling like being around other people but still want to do yoga. I love that the option is always there to practice at home if I chose to.
So what do you prefer? What have been your experiences with home practice vs. studio classes (or even classes at the gym, which have a totally different list of pros and cons!)? If you are new to yoga or have never tried, which do you think you would feel more comfortable doing?
Whether you are getting on your mat in your living room or at your favorite studio. . . . keep it up! Namaste