Many yoga students are wary of going it alone, but you can learn yoga at home — even without a teacher.
I always tell my students that their body is the real yoga teacher, and that I am their guide. What I mean by this is that a certified yoga teacher can describe and demonstrate yoga poses, but only your body can tell you how to wiggle into the perfect expression of that pose, which pose is best to practice at any given time, and what the particular effects of each one will be.
Trust Your Teacher
As your yoga practice evolves, on and off of your yoga mat, the next logical step is to start practising at home. The essence of a home-based yoga practice is trusting your body to be the teacher. To bring your yoga practice home you need to trust that your body has ingrained within it enough muscle memory to know how to move in and out of poses without the verbal queues of a yoga teacher. You also need to trust that, if you listen deep enough, your body will tell you which poses and movements it needs. Listen carefully, and it will tell you.
Learn From Your Body
Once you have been practising yoga for long enough, your body will know and tell you what it needs. It will also let you know how to adjust and adapt the poses to what feels best for you on any given day or at any moment in your practice. Always be ready to learn from your body, and it will surprise you by teaching you something new. The best way to do this is not to think, but to feel. Go with what feels best, and you will be rewarded with an authentic practice.
Keep Your Mat Clean
To begin your home-based yoga practice, you need to establish a space in your home that is exclusively for yoga. Keep this space clean and tidy, so that it will always be appealing to practice — nothing deters you more from practising yoga than a cluttered space and a dusty yoga mat.
Commit to Your Class
Establish a regular time for your home-based yoga practice. Treat it as you would a pre-paid yoga session at your studio; commit to a time and regularity, regardless of how busy you might be. Also, make sure your space is removed from distractions, like a TV or your computer, and make sure it is isolated, not in the middle of high traffic areas where you will easily be drawn away.
Leap of Faith
If you are not quite ready to let your body guide your practice, you may want to start by following a yoga video. This is a perfect way to start your home practice by first committing to a schedule without the extra pressure of leading your own class. After you establish your yoga groove at home, try alternating your yoga practices between video-led and solitary sessions. Take a leap of faith and you will feel empowered by the innate knowledge of your own body!
Mara Munro is a Toronto-based freelance writer and yoga teacher.