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Home Practice 101

If you can't afford to take a class, what is the best path to take in beginning a practice at home?
—Janet from Lawrence, Kansas

Natasha Rizopolous

Natasha's reply:

Dear Janet,

Establishing a home practice is a wonderful way to create a very direct and personal connection to your yoga. The downside is that, without a teacher who can make hands-on adjustments, you are in danger of developing habits that may not be beneficial. This is why I think it is crucial to find a tape, DVD, or CD that provides a wealth of information, and to be sure that the information is delivered in a variety of forms that complement each other.

The good news is that there is a wealth of fine products to choose from when developing a home practice. Go to your local library or video store and check out a handful of videos by different instructors. Shop around until you find someone with whom you connect, the way you would if you were trying to find the teachers that you liked at a new studio. As you try different tapes or DVDs, try to find a teacher who instructs in a way that makes sense to you. This may sound self-evident, but what I mean is that he or she communicates information in a way that helps you understand the form, structure, and spirit of the practice, and that provides additional material to support your understanding of his or her explanations and directions.

Sometimes we can hear an instruction over and over again and it doesn't register, but if we see a picture or read something that emphasizes the same instruction, it suddenly clicks.

Finally, I recommend that you do periodically try to take a class, just because it is always useful to be around a live person who can give feedback about alignment and make specific suggestions about ways to enhance your practice.

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Reader Comments


Unless you find a teacher who provide the caring, enthusiasm, and energy you would be better off doing a home practice. Most instructures I find very good but the bottom line is you have to develop the motivation yourself to do a posture properly.

My home practice of DVD's, printout copies of postures from books and online, visual you tube demonstrations have improved my performance a great deal.

When I do go to a studio I notice how strong my practice is, and how much more endurance I have.
Practice does make perfect.

Sara Alexander MFT

I can't say enough about the power of doing a home practice. I've been a psychotherapist in SF for more than 30 years, and a yoga student (and more recently, teacher...) for about 8. Doing a home practice requires what therapists sometimes call 'self activation' i.e. focussing on yourself, putting yourself first, carving out time and space to take care of you! Just the act of 'going to the mat' is very powerful. I have found my home practice to be life altering. It makes a big difference to how I feel the rest of the day. Its also fun to do the poses that I feel like doing, at the speed that I like doing them, rather than keeping up with the group.

Aaron Bono

I would recommend a practitioner start by looking online and checking out short sample videos on YouTube. This way they can find instructors they connect with before they spend a lot on videos. Then, once they have found the people and style that appeals to them, look into getting the videos which are more in depth and often allow you to build your own practice by combining mini-sessions together.

Another advantage of going to a class is that you gain from the energy and sense of community in the classes. This goes beyond just the physical as it lends energetic and emotional support to your practice.

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