Yoga at Home vs. Class: Advice for Advanced Students

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One of the things we work on in yoga is getting rid of the idea that there is a logical progression in our physical practices. As anyone who has done yoga for a while knows, it's often one step forward, two (or three, or more) steps back. We try to let go of expectations, comparisons, and hierarchies on the mat so that we can begin to do the same off the mat. So why do we insist on clinging to the idea that a home practice is superior to a practice done in class?

As with many things in life, whatever works for you and gets you on your mat without feeling guilty is the right practice. 

You Can Go Your Own Way

After you've been doing asana for a while and feel very comfortable with basic alignment principles, where you do yoga really comes down to personal preference. If you love the convenience of being able to practice on your own schedule in your own space, a home practice will work best for you. There is an abundance of resources for home practitioners these days that go way beyond owning a few DVDs. You can also begin to sequence your own practices, either developing a daily routine or allowing something different to happen in response to what your body wants each time you roll out your mat. Many yoga video websites offer near-constant updates and classroom settings, making it almost like being at the studio.

Almost, because what you can't replicate at home is the community aspect of regularly going to a yoga studio where teachers and students support and encourage each other and everybody knows your name (just like Cheers but without the beer).

Some people like to do a little of both. It really is all good.

The "Whatever Works" Principle

When you get to a place in your practice where you might want to become a teacher, an expectation often arises that you should cultivate a rigorous home practice or else you're not qualified to teach others.

But that's really not the case. Haven't we learned not to project our own experiences onto another person? Practicing alone may offer something different from a group class, but why insist that the former is superior to the latter? Let's instead prioritize the elimination of guilt and the idea that one "should" do yoga any other way than what works for you right now, something that only you are in a position to decide.