When you picture yoga do you visualise a bright, airy yoga studio with a gathering of people all practicing in unison? Does your train of thought then proceed to worries of limitations? Maybe you live in a rural area, without convenient classes nearby. Or you work odd hours and can’t attend your local yoga studio. Perhaps you are caring for children or a parent and can’t spare a couple of hours on a weekday evening. Possibly you are under financial strain and yoga classes are a luxury item that you cannot afford right now. Another scenario might be that you are very passionate and involved in a sport, organisation or activity and there’s no way of fitting a yoga class into your tight schedule. Maybe feelings of anxiety or poor mental health mean that finding and attending a yoga class with other people is not possible or wanted at this time. These are all valid concerns, but they are not complete barriers. They shouldn’t stop you from starting or maintaining a yoga practice altogether.
A studio is a lovely space to practice yoga. There is an experienced teacher to lead the practice, nice aromas and a calming aesthetic, and of course there is something magic about the sound of people breathing in harmony with one another. A shared place to let go of tension and appreciate the simple details of our movement and being. Not to mention that the necessary self-motivation mostly starts and ends with booking your class and showing up. Once you’re there, you will likely follow the sequence instructed even if it involves core-strengthening drills.
Yes, a good yoga class is amazing, a beautiful and positive resource. However, if participating in a class is not accessible to you, I am here to reassure you that it is not the only way. There is a simple joy of practicing yoga by oneself, in a familiar and comfortable environment.
The time that you set aside for yourself can be anything you want it to be. You can follow a traditional ashtanga sequence, do push-ups, sit in silence, dance, perform only sun salutations or a handful of yoga postures of your choosing. It can be the same ritual every day, or change depending on your physical or emotional needs. You might allocate 5 minutes, or 105 minutes, at 5am or 10pm. Yoga in your kitchen, bedroom, hallway or garden. It is entirely your own. Conveniently fitting into your life and around other commitments.
It could be that a self-practice at home complements a weekly yoga class that you currently attend. You have time to digest and apply teachings, try newer yoga poses again in your own time and reinforce your memory of the sequence that you have learned. When it comes to gaining strength and flexibility through yoga, three or four sessions per week is ideal therefore practising at home may help you to achieve these goals.
Committing to a ritual like a yoga practice also helps us to develop our self-discipline. It might be a struggle to find the motivation, but once you’re on the mat its likely that you’ll enjoy yourself. Some days it will be easier, or more difficult to get there. What matters is showing up, finding that self-motivation, committing to the ritual.
You can wear whatever you like, or nothing at all. No judgement, just feeling comfortable in your body and your skin. Personally, I don’t think yoga in pyjamas can be beaten for comfort and cosiness. On that note, you can be as weird and out there as you like, nobody is watching. This might manifest in your movements, chanting or song choice. The sky is the limit. You do you.
Perhaps the social value of going to a class with other humans is occasionally, or always, an undesirable aspect of yoga for you. And by this I don’t mean that you’re a hermit, although its completely acceptable if you are, but perhaps you have a job interacting with people all day and you don’t feel like putting on a smile. In which case allowing some alone time for silence and introspection might be exactly what you need.
It is also worth mentioning that a home practice doesn’t have to mean alone, your family and friends can take part. Have a yoga party in your living room with your loved ones for some good clean fun. Home life sometimes involves separation of every house mate or family member, everyone in a different room, doing their own thing. Yoga can be a great way to get everybody together, communicating and being present with one another.
During my home practice, I have found that without having anyone to compare myself to, it is easier to do the yoga poses without self-judgement or pushing myself beyond my limitations. I notice the sensations I am experiencing and move into a version of the pose where I can breathe fully and easily.
If you are wondering how to get started, I recommend setting the same time and space for you practice. In that way it becomes a habit. Create a nice atmosphere with candles, incense, and flowers. Consider creating an altar of considered personal objects to focus your attention on. It also helps to leave this space ready to go as its harder to find the motivation if you have to find your yoga mat and move furniture to roll it out. Lastly, if you feel like you need some guidance there are a plethora of online yoga classes available, both free and subscription based. While you won’t get personal adjustments, it can be helpful to be led through a balanced sequence of poses. If you don’t want the distraction, I recommend moving in a way that feels natural and comfortable, exploring your range of motion and observing your breath.