Practicing yoga with other like-minded people can be the highlight of my week. We form bonds through our practice. laughing through our mistakes and efforts then we meet peace together in our meditation. When we are away from our group classes, we miss the familiarity and the challenge of vulnerability that comes from practicing yoga in public, but there are also plenty of benefits to explore while practicing at home. Here are three of my favorites.
1. Getting on the mat at home can unite your self-care and the challenge of responsibility.
We often think of our lives in blocks of time related to task of responsibility or self-care (if you're lucky to get any). Practicing at home unites those areas, reminding you that there isn't a separation between them. Yoga is both self-care and the responsibility of taking care of the only body you have. Bringing your practice home can open up your post-savasana peace to the other areas of your life.
Sometimes while dipping into Downward Facing Dog, I find myself facing wisps of white dog hair scattered around my mat and boxes. Practicing outside the studio has taught me to not only breathe into Sun Salutations but to relax into other pressures at home.
2. Practicing with a friend or partner can deepen your connection to them and your practice.
All kinds of relationships can benefit from setting up a meditation, yoga or fitness practice together. When we share our interest in our physical, emotional or intellectual goals with the people, we open ourselves up to be influenced and inspired by their support. When we set up gym dates, yoga picnics or daily meditation check ins, we inspire their goal setting practices too. We make each other accountable for the action it takes in order to commit to a goal. Connecting to people who want us to succeed and being that person to inspire success in others is a rewarding practice on and off the yoga mat.
3. Yoga at home allows you to explore practices at your own pace.
When holding poses, you can use the breath to explore how each part of your body feels in the asana. Practicing yoga is a controlled stress. You step into a pose, your muscles are tense, you let your body shake and it gets harder and harder to breathe. In a studio, you are practicing on the pace of the whole class. Practicing at home allows you the time to expand your breath deeper in each position of the body.
Get into Chair Pose
Feet are together
Knees bent over the big toes
Abs engaged so that the ribs and hip bones squeeze towards each other
Arms are overhead in a V-shape and bring the corner of the shoulders together
Now BREATHE. That's it. The body is in battle and all you have to do is take a breath, let it out and repeat. The breath expands the muscles that need to be opened. The deeper and slower the breath, the more the muscles can expand, allowing to stretch whatever tension is there. All it takes is shifting the brain's attention to the rhythms of the breath. This intention of a slower breath brings you back into the body, back to how it moves and feels and helps you focus on the moment directly in front of you.