Meeting the Challenge of Personal Practice

One of the more gratifying points of feedback from my recent mentoring course for yoga teachers was how many of the students enjoyed deepening their personal practice over the course of six weeks. With the support of sequences to practice, a forum for Q&A and short video tutorials, to their surprise they were able to practice for longer and approach more challenging postures than they had previously when practicing alone.

At the risk of sounding nostalgic, when I first started practicing asana on my own, there were no “remote” options for taking yoga classes. I had my blue mat and a book or two. If I wanted to have a coherent, edifying session it was up to me to create it. This shaped my approach to personal practice as the time and energy I dedicated to investigating, exploring, testing out and solidifying the input I received from teachers.

All of this work is no less important now, though it is perhaps harder to choose over the myriad options for at-home practice.

The ease of a monthly subscription to an online studio offering unlimited classes with renowned yoga teachers is hard to ignore, for example. These are valuable opportunities, for sure.  They also challenge our ability to be alone, on our mats, face to face with the practice and ourselves. Why would we choose to garner the focus, discipline and willpower needed for a 90-minute practice on our own when we can listen to a skilled voice that tells us what to do?

The short answer is that the level of interaction with the subject is different when we are by ourselves. It is in there, and only there, that we can take true ownership of our practice and engage with it on the level of sadhana, spiritual practice.

It is easy to equate home practice with personal practice. The availability of the former makes the latter harder than ever to sustain.