Home practice vs studio classes

I’ve been so busy lately that getting to the studio for a yoga class has been impossible. For ttwo weeks I’ve relied solely on my home practice, squeezing it in haphazardly around work, teaching, and myriad other responsibilities.

I’ll admit, after only a couple of weeks out of the habit, finding the motivation to gather up my mat and towel and drive the twenty minutes to the studio was hard. But I picked the day I’d go back, and committed to it.

And wow.

I’d forgotten just how much I LOVED being at the studio. The energy created afters years of classes, hundreds, maybe thousands of students, is palpable. It’s a mini-home-away-from-home, oasis of calm amidst the buzz of Prahran.

Driving home afterwards, aglow with an almighty yoga buzz, I started thinking more about home practice versus studio classes…and thus this post was born.

Home practice

I love, love, love my home practice! I practice more at home than I do a studio, always have. Not least because it’s free! Let’s face it, some of those yoga classes out there are getting pretty expensive. The studio I go to is very reasonably priced, but there are some out there that charge $25-30 per hour. I understand that teachers have to pay rent and eat like the rest of us, but really?! (Anyway, that’s a whole other blog post).

Then there’s the comfort factor. When I go to class I might wear my fancy Lulu tops, but when I’m at home, well, let’s just say I’ve been known to bust out a downdog in my pyjamas.

And, you know, we’re all so busy. It’s nice to be able to unroll my mat at a time that suits me, to practice for as long or as little as I want. I know a class might only be 90 minutes out of your day, but when you factor in travel time, finding parking, AND you want to be there a bit early to get your favourite spot (or is that just me?), not to mention getting home again, it can easily take up to a couple of hours.

But the main reason I love a home practice so much is the fact that I can do exactly the practice I need and want on the day. – sometimes a strong vinyasa, or a quiet, restorative practice if my energy is low. I can spend a bit more time on my “challenge” poses if I so choose, or focus on a particular theme for the whole session.

Of course, maintaining a regular home practice requires a fair degree of self-discipline and motivation. My secret is not giving myself time to think about it or talk myself out of it. The second I get home from work, I get changed and get on the mat. No hesitation. Just get on the mat and the practice will take care of itself.

Studio classes

Glorious as my home practice might be, there is nothing like the feeling of walking into my regular yoga studio. As I mentioned earlier, hundreds, thousands of students have walked through those doors, practiced together, created an energy that you feel the moment you step inside. It’s intoxicating.

Regular attendance at a studio also helps to make you feel like you belong to a community. I’m the lone yogini within my circle of friends, so talking with my teachers, catching up with old teacher trainee friends and just being surrounded by so many others who love yoga as much as I do, makes me feel like I’m part of something much bigger than myself.

One thing I noticed, on returning to studio classes after several years break, is how many bad habits I’d fallen into when only doing a home practice – hyperextension in my knees and elbows, over-arching into my lower back and sinking into my hips were the main ones. I had no one to pick me up on it, and so it took quite a while to train myself out of them – but with the help of my teachers, I got there!

Sometimes I find myself stuck in an asana rut, practicing the same poses day after day. Going to class gives me the opportunity to learn something new – a pose, a sequence, an entry or exit in/out of a pose, some words of wisdom – something that will inspire me to shake up my home practice.

Having kapha as my predominant dosha also means that sometimes I need my butt kicked.I know exactly which teachers will do that, who let me get away with taking the easy option, who’ll push me to go deeper – and while I may be silently cursing them, I also love the fact that they remind me that my body can do a lot more than what my mind tells me it can.

So, studio classes versus a home practice – which is better? All debate aside, I think it all comes down to whatever the best practice is for YOU. The main thing is just to get on the mat – do that, and everything else will fall into place.

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