Working with FearMarch 10, 2020
Many of us are brought together by a love of practicing yoga in group classes. When practicing in community, we encounter a sense of invigoration, inspiration, and support that is more difficult to cultivate on our own. Isn’t there such empowerment in turning inwards, alongside others doing the same?
By comparison, yoga at home may just not feel the same… but when we shift our perspective from what we’re missing to what we’re gaining, the heart softens enough to allow for new outcomes to bloom.
When practicing at home….
1. You might be braver about trying elements of the practice that you’ve shied away from in the past. Does it feel silly to breathe like Darth Vader, though you’re intrigued by the ujayii breath that others seem to love? Perhaps this is the time to try… perhaps a moment to seed a new habit and see if it sprouts.
2. With the added privacy, you might practice in a fashion that better serves you, such as resting when you need, and modifying poses as your body calls. The ego may be quieter when no one’s around to see what you’re doing. This is a significant gift of a home practice – a beautiful leg-up to meet the body and the mind where they are, right now. In solitude, it may be easier to yoke the body and mind together, rather than have them be at odds.
3. That being said, you may get distracted, discouraged, or disinterested without the structure of a traditional group class. Aversion and sloth are extremely powerful (and wholly natural) forces that are significant barriers to a regular home practice for most of us. Discipline is built slowly, but it is built with every effort placed, especially when done against the current of emotion.
4. You can pause, and play! As you practice, either on your own or with (video/audio) guidance, you can pause when it feels sticky, when it feels good, or when it feels interesting to keep playing. There is an opportunity to nurture curiosity and inquisitiveness within your practice.
5. A physical yoga practice will not only tap into your physical body, but also your emotional, energetic, and spiritual states. Many of us will subconsciously resist the full effect of a practice when we’re in public because there’s fear of fully letting go; but at home, maybe you can finally, deeply… fart! or cry! or sigh! or sink deeply into an insight. You can be fully yourself.
When practicing at home, you have more responsibility to follow through with your practice, but you also have more freedom to delve into yourself. Play and curiosity are elements of a strong practice; but, so are discipline and a reckoning with your weaknesses.
In yogic philosophy, the niyamas are five ethical guidelines that invite us to live with integrity, so as to deepen our relationship with ourselves. Broadly generalized, they entreat us to: (1) feed our body, mind, and heart with wholesome, nourishing content (saucha); (2) meet the present moment with acceptance and gratitude (santosha); (3) continually apply vigor and resolve to our efforts (tapas); (4) remain alert to ourselves (svadhyaya); and (5) let go with trust that a greater force will carry us through (ishvara pranidhana).
Is our mat not a perfect place to practice this?