Balancing home practice with classes

I started off doing yoga 4 and half years ago solely as a home practitioner. I liked it, I did exactly what I needed to do for my body and I learnt many invaluable lessons about my body and mind during that time. It was what I needed during a very low point in my depression and from that I could begin to heal. A year after I started I was brave enough to start going to 1 class a week. I was so incredibly nervous going to that class but by then yoga was such an ingrained part of my life that taking the class wasn’t much different from following a DVD. Plus I was in a room with people (not that anyone talked to me much)  and it gave me a boost to “come out” as a yogi.

I went to that class for a year and a half before the limitations of the teacher got too much and I left for a different studio. It got to a point where the class was something I dreaded and it put me in a bad mood for the rest of the day.

The new studio has a monthly fee for unlimited classes, so I feel it is worth my while to go to more than one class a week. The problem is I find taking classes quite draining. I’m so stubborn I find it hard to give control of my beloved practice to someone else, who may not sequence the poses I want, when I want. I am working on some quite “advanced” backbends in my home practice, among other things, and time at a class is time that I can’t be working on those. Plus what if I want to rest, or go faster, or just stop altogether?

On the other hand I have met a load of people at those yoga classes, no bosom buddies yet but a few I can small talk with. This is huge for me and would be impossible in my little lonesome attic studio. I have started work on poses- mainly inversions- after doing them in classes. I get new ideas and encouragement from classes. Plus going means I will get my 90 minute practice in guaranteed. That is fantastic, especially on days when I can’t be bothered sequencing myself.

I know that I am in a tiny minority (some of the teachers publicly admit to not having a home practice which I find quite shocking), to most of the people there that room where they go to do yoga is the only place in the world where they do yoga. Yoga is in that room and nowhere else. I do find it strange, if I’m honest with my judgmental self.

So my dilemma is, do I schedule days when I go to classes, and days when I home practice? Do I go with the flow (risking the classes getting the most of energy and the home days being when I have to rest, thus being the “dregs practices”)? Or do I say I will do 30 minutes home practice on days when I go to classes?

At the root of it, my yoga practice IS my home practice. Any classes I take are just to feed my home practice. That is where the value is for me, it’s my laboratory and my sanctuary.

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4 thoughts on “Balancing home practice with classes

  1. You bring up some very good issues in this post. Some of them are the reasons that I became a yoga instructor. I think that a good instructor gives lots of options for everyone, so that if people want, they CAN “rest, go faster, or just stop altogether”. I like to give several different levels/options for most poses, so that students can do what is right for them at that time, and I invite them to rest when they need to. And, yes, I have had classes where someone chose to rest the entire time. That was what they needed that day.

    The fact that you are identifying these issues, and that you have such a solid home practice makes me think that you will be an excellent instructor. 🙂

    As for your dilemma, I have always found going to a class beneficial, especially for the poses that I tend to avoid. Often those poses are the very ones that I need the most. But as you say, your yoga practice IS your home practice, so I think you are right to keep most of your energy for that. Maybe only one class a week?

    • You sound like a good instructor if people feel comfortable enough to rest through your classes! I have never been to a class where that would be encouraged, I think it would be the subject of gossip for them. I would love for students in my classes to do that if they needed to. Do you find that students just tend to go for the “hardest” variation even if it’s not suitable for them? I’ve found that in classes there’s much straining and inappropriate effort expended and the teachers do just let them get on with it. I wonder how you could help people without bruising their egos?
      One class a week sounds good to me, in that case since I went last night that’s me done for the week!

      • I talk a lot about listening to your body, and letting go of judgement, competition and expectations. Students in my yoga class were pretty good about doing what was appropriate for them. I had more of a problem in my muscle toning classes, but only with new students (who wanted to get fit, fast!). If they stuck around, eventually they would understand the philosophy of doing what works for your body.

      • Yes I need to remember to teach to the students who are receptive to what you’re trying to say. I do think that unfortunately there are a lot of people who go to the studio I go to who are using it as a gym substitute so I will have to remember that.

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