Thursday, January 23, 2014

Discovering the Home Practice

When first starting my yoga practice, I would hear about the mysterious home practice from my teachers.  My mind would slip away to images of my instructors standing in some pristine bamboo room or poised on a sun rising bluff in a graceful expansive pose.  This went on for some time, actually for years while I came in and out of yoga; my imagination always running wild with the thought of a personal practice outside the classroom setting and what that might look like in context.
Then, after a time, I found a consistency in my yoga story and begin to approach the idea with a little more grounding.

Finally, I asked my patient teachers,  "Ok, so what's the deal with this home practice thing?"

The answers were legion and varied depending on who I asked.  The one consistent element was that they all had personal practice.  A few listened to pod casts, some watched videos, others has particular poses and sequences that they came to every day in an evolving pattern.  I was amazed!  For me, yoga was the classroom setting with the teacher leading me through the asanas.  This was challenging in itself, not only the actual class but making the commitment to attend on a regular basis.  How could one actually commit every day and do it on there own?  Awe!

All things in good time.

Shortly after this inquiry, I moved across the continent and landed in Alaska far away from my familiar studio.  Before my girlfriend came to join me in a couple of months, I would find a temporary place to  stay while getting us set up in Anchorage.  Alone in a unfurnished rented room with only a duffle bag, bedroll and my yoga mat, it seemed like the right time to start this home practice thing. This was further confirmed by the fact that almost one whole wall of the room was a closet with mirrored sliding doors.  It was like living in my own small yoga studio.

So it began, while looking for a permanent place to live as well as checking out the local studios, I would try to piece together  a home practice.  At first, I would poorly perform parts of my former teachers' flows in the morning or before bed.    This was furthered by the regular class attendance developing in Anchorage at a local studio.  It was still tricky and hardly satisfying even with the new class exposure.  Honestly, I just didn't know what I was doing, I stumbled forward without grace and probably without the best form.  But, the important thing is that I had started!

The more I reflect on this experience the more I am convinced that an earnest intent followed by action is the beginning of a home practice.  The initial confusion and lack of confidence is only what we think to be the limit of our abilities.  My teachers (past and present) continuously  declare that the edge of our practice is only an illusion that will extend out beyond us if we walk towards it.  Starting the home practice is the edge of our inner journey of yoga and when we make that decision to walk to its boundary a whole new personal universe opens up   Our poses don't need to be correct or beautiful as we move forward just that we keep breathing and keep practicing.

Maybe you are starting a home practice? Don't worry about whether its right or wrong just keep moving and it will come. If I can develop one, you can for sure.