I had been purposely avoiding writing about my own Yoga Practice at home because, frankly, it was something that was very personal to me and I figured that if anyone wanted to gather information about starting a Yoga Practice there are so many resources already on the Internet.
Especially regarding Yoga, there is so much out there on the world wide web that I sometimes feel I’d be repeating the same information. But at the same time I can relate my own experience about Yoga, being that I have developed my own home practice, as opposed to working out in the gym.
Yoga in the Gym
Most people learn Yoga by going to the gym, and attending guided classes in which the Yoga Instructor guides the students through a series of yogic poses. And there are also Yoga Shalas that exclusively teach Yoga at a deeper level, and bring more of the spiritual aspects of Yoga into the classes.
What students are getting at the gym or at classes is the physical version of Yoga called Hatha Yoga. Hatha Yoga is just one of eight limbs of Yoga. The benefits of Hatha Yoga are numerous, but mainly, one can become more physically fit, limber, flexible and develop a sense of well-being when practicing Yoga regularly.
Many people in America treat Yoga as a workout that helps one get into better shape, and at the same time alleviate stress and give one a sense of well-being. Of course, one usually is at peace following a Yoga Routine.
About My Own Home Practice
I prefer to treat Yoga as a Spiritual Practice, and that includes all 8 limbs of Yoga (the physical postures or asanas is just one limb of Yoga). Dhyana, or meditation, is yet another limb of Yoga, and the eight limbs can be further explained in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
I prefer to practice at home as opposed to going to the gym. I look at the gym as just another location to teach Yoga in a class structure. But in Ancient India, Yoga’s origins have a long history of being passed down from Spiritual Master to Disciple or Student. Back in those ancient times it was considered more of an esoteric form of Spiritual practice.
Yes, Yoga has always been considered a spiritual practice, and I think that what attracts people to Yoga is the fact that you can do the physical part of it, the asanas, and get very healthy, strong, lose weight and have a greater sense of well-being. But, the initial purpose was to do all that in order to prepare body, mind and spirit to be at one with God, or the divine.
But the fact remains, in order to learn Yoga it is important to learn from a teacher. If it is a one-on-one relationship then it is to learn Yoga from a Spiritual Master, and for many Americans it is readily accessible to learn Yoga from a teacher that’s available at a gym or at a Yoga Shala that offers classes.
The Benefits of a Home Practice
I just feel more comfortable going at my own pace with my home practice. Everyone is different. If you’re more serious about doing it right and perhaps teaching later on, then it’s best to attend classes with a certified Yoga instructor. I personally have done my own personal study, and have studied many poses and developed my own routines. But they are not far off from the routines taught at classes.
Here are some benefits of doing your own home practice:
- You can go at your own pace.
- You can develop your own style and take your time with certain poses.
- You will have more peace and quiet to go deeper into your practice.
- You can control the time and place where you want to do your Yoga routine.
- You can play your own music, or choose to not play any music at all.
Getting Started With Classes
I would recommend anyone to first attend classes so that the instructor can see you performing each pose and making sure you are doing it right.
Once you get to a point where you are familiar with the poses and routines, then you can take your Yoga practice home and practice on your own.
Even if you are taking classes, it’s important to continue practicing at home. Like anything, practice makes perfect.
I know many people prefer the guided classes because then, one doesn’t have to be concerned about knowing which pose to do next.
Of course, there are many books and videos that can help cultivate a nice home practice. And there are books that go deeper into the specific poses and their benefits. There are even Yoga anatomy books that cover the physiological effects and benefits of Yoga.
As long as one has the determination and inspiration to begin a Yoga practice, whether at home or in classes, it becomes a Life journey which can take you deeper into understanding yourself and the very nature of your being.