When I moved from Sacramento to Washington, D.C. last spring, I wrote about creating space in my studio apartment for a yoga home practice.
Since then, I’ve happily started teaching students in their own spaces. We may set up in the foyer or the living room. Sometimes we have to roll up a rug or push a coffee table out of the way. Often, furniture becomes a prop. My students see that they have on hand what they need to make an asana practice: a sturdy stool stands in for yoga blocks during a forward fold; a rolled towel serves as a bolster for the knees. Last week, during a breath awareness flow, I noticed a student tensing her hands as her arms extended overhead. I grabbed two tomatoes from a basket on the kitchen counter and asked her to hold them in her palms. No more squeezing!
The greatest value of a home practice, whether practicing yoga, meditation or poetry, is focused attention. Working privately with a teacher, of course, provides you with a set of eyes: it can be challenging to see yourself, even in a mirror.
But practice any art alone and you become your own teacher, training yourself to notice and to trust what you notice. I practice alone and with teachers. I love to teach my students privately…and I assign them homework.
On Real Simple my yoga teacher Cyndi Lee offers advice on on how to keep a home practice steady. She points out if you have a pet you won’t likely be practicing alone. I know my dog Tucker will come from wherever he’s resting to join me on the mat for yoga or beside the folded blanket for meditation. Good company.