Yoga Benefits: Home vs. Group Practice

My very first introduction to yoga was taking a class with a friend at a yoga studio in my neighborhood. While practicing in a studio is highly recommended for beginners, there is something to be said for practicing yoga at home, as well. But before attempting to wing it on your own, it’s important to learn the basics. Build your practice upon a strong foundation. Once you feel comfortable and have a set of poses under your belt, you can start to practice at home safely and properly.

Benefits of Practicing at Home

Practicing at home can be tremendously beneficial because it allows students to cater to their own needs. When you’re attending a class of twenty students, it’s challenging for a teacher to help every person. Your needs will be different from the person beside you. A teacher can only guide you so much in a class — to have the optimum yoga practice that is best suited for you, you will need to create your own practice. A home practice allows you to move at your own pace, and create a practice that best supports your needs at that moment; this is especially helpful for students practicing with injuries or physical limitations.

Yoga classes are not cheap, and for anyone who is trying to keep their expenses down, a home practice is a great alternative. Not only do you save money, you also save time. For those of us who are very busy and have schedules that do not permit us to get to a yoga class, a home practice is perfect. There isn’t any traveling time to or from a yoga studio, or waiting time for a class — you decide when to start and how long your practice will be. Anywhere you can find a quiet space to place your yoga mat, you can do a yoga practice. I’ve practiced at the office, in a hotel room and outside at the park. The possibilities are really endless.

How Do You Create Your Own Practice?

Listen to your body. How often do we listen to our bodies? Doing your own practice at home forces you to really tune in. Our bodies are constantly changing, and therefore so are our needs. If you don’t have an idea of where to begin, try drawing inspiration from a yoga class. If you are someone that is living with an injury or physical limitation, I suggest a private one-on-one yoga practice with a teacher who can help you devise a yoga practice that is specific to you.

The Benefits of a Group Class

While I’ve just outlined the many benefits of a home yoga practice, it’s important not to overlook the benefits that group yoga can bring to our lives. Here in the west, we work long hours throughout the week, leaving us without a lot of spare time for family, friends and tending to our own needs. Many people begin to feel disconnected. Yoga classes are a wonderful way for people to socialize and be amongst other like-minded people, creating a sense of community. In a yoga class, people feel connected to one another, as they tap into the energy of the whole group.

Being in a class with a knowledgeable and encouraging teacher can really enhance our yoga practice. I’ve been in a yoga class where the teacher has said something inspirational or insightful that has really helped me move forward in life, or just put a smile on my face. Teachers also offer guidance, and sometimes, fabulous adjustments. I know it’s been helpful in my own practice to be adjusted correctly in a pose, so that my muscles can memorize the feeling. The next time I go into the same pose, my muscles know exactly what to do.

Lately, it seems like yoga studios have been popping up on every corner; I take it as a sign of the great need for yoga in our society. If anything, I love to support yoga studios because I love to support community. Yoga studios bring people together to connect, to grow, and to heal. As each person physically, mentally, and spiritually transforms on their mat, they also bring their transformation out into the world.

Written by Michelle Uy who is a Certified Yoga Teacher and Owner of LoveActionYoga.