Every training I teach includes a module about home practice and personal studies. And, invariably, it includes a slow dirge-like conversation that reveals the students’ personal practices are not—how can I say this in yoga-speak—thriving. While my teachers were not so forgiving about a lackluster home-practice, I get it. Practicing at home is not always as easy as taking a class and, the truth is, there are a lot of good classes out there (and, some lousy ones). But, developing your home practice is essential for the development of your self-awareness and the cultivation of your voice as a teacher. So, whether you’re practicing a YogaGlo class or doing an old-school, offline home-practice, the following reasons should remind you of the value of your personal practice.
- Practicing at home helps you develop the skill of self-care:
Actively participating in the wellbeing of your body, mind and breath is essential for your health. No, it’s not always easy. And, yes, it is always important. It’s incredibly easy for our wellness to take a backseat to our countless daily responsibilities. Yet, when we take care of ourselves with our practice everything else falls into place with a little bit more ease—and, if not, at least we’re in a little better shape.
- To focus on specific needs such as shoulder opening, core strength, or deep relaxation:
Most of you know what your body needs in order to experience greater balance. Your home practice provides you with the opportunity to target specific areas of need—like shoulder opening and so on.
- To focus on specific postures such as backbends or inversions:
A friend of mine began practicing at home for the sole purpose of working on handstand. The one class a week that she went to didn’t provide enough repetition for her to develop the posture. As such, the posture went nowhere for months until she took matters into her own hands and started a daily practice focused around learning this inversion. Not only did she learn the posture by focusing on it more regularly, she fell in love with her home-practice and has been committed to it ever since.
- To do the poses you love:
Uggghhh and Arghhh. Those are the sounds I make when someone says they have to spend more time practicing poses that they loathe. I make the same sounds exponentially louder when someone says this is the advice that their teacher gave them. Why, the sounds? Simple: The advice is only partially logical and nearly impossible to enact. You will only white-knuckle yourself through things that you have an aversion to for so long—especially when those things are optional. And, since doing poses you don’t like is optional, very few people do actually do this. This is why people always say they should practice the poses they butt heads with instead of say do practice these postures. Instead, treat yourself! There are plenty of reasons you love the poses you love—one is that they are probably very good for you. So, dear ones, do some postures that you like and fall in love with them over and over.
- To deepen your experience of yoga:
Honing your skills in any subject matter requires repetition. Taking 1 or 2 classes per week probably wouldn’t be enough to learn a new language—not without doing some homework each day. Deepening your yoga practice also requires an immersive experience. At very least, it requires consistent repetition. Sure, 1 or 2 classes per week is absolutely reasonable for a more casual student—and, it may be all that someone can muster at various phases of their life. But, in order for teachers to feel honest, authentic and inspired you need to dive in to your personal practice with much greater frequency.
Jason Crandell was recently named one of the next generation of teachers shaping yoga’s future by Yoga Journal for his skillful, unique approach to vinyasa yoga. Jason’s steady pace, creative sequencing, and attention to detail encourage students to move slowly, deeply, and mindfully into their bodies. Jason credits his primary teacher, Rodney Yee, teachers in the Iyengar Yoga tradition such as Ramanand Patel, and ongoing studies in Eastern and Western philosophy for inspiring to him bring greater alignment and mindfulness to Vinyasa Yoga.
Jason is a contributing editor for Yoga Journal and has written over 13 articles for the magazine and website – many of which have been translated internationally (including Japan, China, Italy and Brazil). His integrative and accessible teachings support students of every background and lineage, helping them to find greater depth, awareness, and well-being in their practice – and in their lives. Follow Jason on Facebook and Twitter.