Ultimately, Yoga is about you and your practice. Going to classes offers a way to start from the foundation and to continue to build your understanding in yoga.
Classes aim to give you new ways to see things in your body and in your poses. Classes help to set models for a sequence, the pace of a sequence, the points to focus on and how to build your capacity to know yourself better. They help us learn to concentrate, they take us away from life’s many distractions.
A home practice is based on a different model. It’s really what a class is teaching you to do. There you explore what you have learned and you start to find ways of doing yoga that work best for your particularly body and mind. Yoga gives you tools to work with, and practice enables you to use those tools to find a better balance, mentally and physically.
If you only come to a class one or two times each week, you will only be approaching the poses of that week’s emphasis once every month or 5 weeks. A good example of this is backbends. The only time we really bend our spine and use our muscles in that particular direction is at the one or two classes per term with backbends as a focus. Yet they are a group of poses that benefit from more regular practice. Each backbend week seems like a new undertaking. Our body tells us that the last session seems like it was half a century ago.
If you do some practice at home, you come to classes with some questions. These are questions that you have thought of consciously, as well as unconsciously. Even if only experienced on a muscular level inside your own body, you will often seek to explore new ways of moving after attempting poses at home and the class becomes more meaningful. This helps you to unravel the problems you found in those poses at home, to expand and extend your knowledge. As a result, new techniques and sequences become more interesting.
Without some home practice, doing yoga is a bit like learning a language but never getting to use it. It’s useful in theory, but the practical understanding of that culture or those phrases only comes from living inside them for a little while, and learning your own approach to them.
Even 15 minutes as a break during the day makes a big difference. And as with other forms of exercise, sometimes 15 minutes leads to more time as the initial barriers to physical activity start to break down.
Without underestimating the demands of our busy lives, we often have a little more time than we imagine ourselves to have. Yoga gives you something back, some new energy, some extra quietness, something that is just for you.