Yoga has a lot to offer all of us, but it takes commitment and dedication before the benefits begin to arrive. You will receive the most from yoga if you attend class on a regular basis and establish a consistent home practice. There are some important things you get out of yoga class that cannot be duplicated when practicing by yourself at home. At the same time, some aspects of a solo practice at home are crucial to a complete yoga experience.
Benefits of Yoga Class
The most obvious benefit of yoga class is the presence of a knowledgeable teacher to guide you and the other students through a sequence that will leave you feeling fresh and revitalized. A good teacher will offer clear adjustments and instructions to help you avoid injury while learning new poses and finding more depth in asanas that you already know. Both the yoga teacher and the presence of other students can serve as a source of inspiration.
It is often challenging, however, to have a complete mind/body experience in yoga class. By design, much of the class remains more outward than inward focused. This is great for learning, but keeps us from being completely present in the moment.
Practicing Yoga at Home
Going through a sequence of yoga postures at home will give a different experience than the same sequence in yoga class. As long as you have a comfortable practice space and enough time free of distractions, it’s an opportunity to remain focused within your body and your mind. Without needing to listen to outside instructions, you can “listen” to the inner movements of the body.
Using the soft, even movement of the breath is one way to tie your attention - your mind - to your body. It is difficult to sustain this focus from moment to moment - all of us lose it along the way - but even a partial experience of this type may result in a slightly different state of mind than the one you were left with at the end of yoga class. You may feel quieter, calmer and more in tune with yourself.
Both yoga class and home practice are valuable parts of a complete approach to yoga. They each offer something that the other does not have. Use yoga class for learning and inspiration; use home practice to go deeper within and fine tune your awareness. The fastest growth in yoga is likely to come if you do both of these on a regular basis. You may surprise yourself with what you achieve.