Many folks who describe themselves as dedicated yogis never actually roll out their mats inside the walls of their own home. Sure, yoga studios have become our homes away from home, filled with people we know and who “get us.” Our yoga instructors manage to say just the right thing at the right time – that thing that makes us break down into tears in child’s pose or stay strong just a few more seconds longer in warrior two. Even those who have practiced for years sometimes feel unsure about our ability to guide our own practice at home.
The difference with engaging in a home yoga practice is that you get to decide what you want to do on your mat. More importantly, you get to decide what you need on your mat.
This is the time to free yourself of the notion that your yoga practice has to be a good workout, or has to include specific poses, or whatever other ideas you have about what your practice “should” entail. This is more difficult than it sounds, and will bring up a lot of feelings that you might have about yoga and your time on the mat – like why are you there and what you are getting out of your practice.
All that aside, allowing yourself to flow into poses – the first ones that come to mind; the ones that feel nicest; the ones your body is craving – and staying there as long as you want, is a practice in following your intuition and listening to your body. I have had home practices that have felt quite rigorous and energizing, where I have done lots of strong, long-held poses, and others that I have spent just breathing alongside simple movement, or laying in savasana, because that is what I felt like doing. When you take away your preconceived notions and expectations, yoga without external guidance can become a way to flex the muscles of your intuition, and I would argue that that may be the most powerful way in which yoga can impact your off-the-mat life.
Listening to your intuition is indeed a practice, just like yoga and meditation are. When you don’t find ways, on a regular basis, to quiet the noise and hear to what your gut instincts are telling you, you lose touch with how gut feelings feel, and you find yourself increasingly lost, looking for outside indicators, rather than those deeply-felt internal ones, to tell you if you’re headed in the right direction. Cultivating self-awareness and instinct can be as simple as taking half an hour once or twice a week to listen deeply to what your body needs on your yoga mat. You may indeed find yourself more able to tune in and know what you need in other areas of your life as well.
How about you? Do you practice yoga at home regularly? What do you like about it? If not, what makes it challenging to do a home practice?
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