I was 7 years old when my Dad taught me how to ride a bike. It had a yellow banana seat, yellow tassels on the handlebars, and to brake you just pedaled backwards. I started out with training wheels, then one day Dad decided it was time to take the training wheels off. He held the back of the bike seat and I got on the bike, balanced, and started pedaling. He did that a few times as I pedaled up and down our street, until one time he let go. Now I was pedaling on my own! There was an amazing sense of freedom to be able to take off on my bike all on my own.
Taking off the training wheels
Yoga is not so very different. It’s very helpful, and for most practitioners it’s necessary, to have a teacher to get started. It’s good to have the training wheels and somebody to hold the back of seat when you’re first getting started with the basics of a yoga practice. At some point though, if you want to explore farther down the road, it’s time to take the training wheels off, maybe take a deep breath, and try pedaling on your own.
For sure, there are many wonderful benefits of practicing yoga in community, but if you’ve never practiced alone, I’d suggest you’re missing out on a different kind of a beautiful experience. If you haven’t tried doing your yoga practice on your own, then now is the time. While circumstances dictate that we spend time physically apart from the spiritual community (sangha), I’d encourage you to take this as an opportunity to practice on your own.
You are already empowered to practice
If you’ve been practicing Mysore style Ashtanga, you already have all the tools you need. You are already empowered to practice. While it may feel different at first if you have only practiced in a group, there are many wonderful things about practicing on your own.
- There is a deep sense on internal quiet that you can access when you remove more of the external stimulus, like other people practicing or teachers talking
- A more continuous flow of concentration is often possible without the interruptions of people coming and going
- Your own internal voice may be clearer and easier to hear
- And solo practice can sometimes keep you honest, in that there are no distractions to allow you to avoid being aware of the state of your own mind
“You’ve always had the power Dorothy. Just tap your heels together three times and say there’s no place like home…”
Steps for getting started with home practice:
- Pick a time to practice. It’s best if you practice at about the same time every day.
- Set an alarm and put out your yoga clothes the night before
- Get up when your alarm goes off. Take a shower to warm your muscles. It will also help wake you up.
- Put your mat down. Stand at the front of your mat. Set an intention for your practice or do the Ashtanga opening chant. Inhale, raise your arms and begin sun salutation A. Continue with your asana series as you’ve learned it, or as it makes sense for the time you have.
- When you’re done, be sure to finish the closing postures appropriate for you and REST at least 5 minutes. A little longer in rest is better. Rest is never optional. When you’re done, get up and begin the rest of your day.
If you struggle with motivation to begin practice at home, start small and be consistent. These two things will take you farther than anything else. Try committing to 5 sun salutation A plus rest for the next 30 days. You’ll likely find that once you get started each day, you may want to do more than 5 sun salutation A. If that’s true, then continue on. If you don’t, then give yourself permission to stop, lay down, and rest. Come back again the next day and repeat the process.
If you need accountability, find a virtual practice accountability partner. Check in and send each other a text like, “starting practice now”, or “just finished practice”.
Most of all, believe in yourself! You can do this! Take those training wheels off and discover the beauty and depth of personal yoga practice.
If you feel uncertain about how to approach something that’s coming up in your practice at home, just ask us. We’re here to support your home practice now and in the future.