By Kimaya Singh
Practicing at home might be the only choice Yoga practitioners have during a pandemic or a lock down. While practicing yoga in one’s home is typically a safe choice for the general population, it is a good option to take a yoga class before beginning at-home yoga training sessions. Yoga is designed to stretch muscles, loosen joints, and relax the body, and although it can be practiced by the healthy, injured, young or elderly, there are some risks involved.
Practicing at home can be safe, if you are patient and research the risks. Many flows, such as the sun salutation series, are achieved by moving through a sequence of preparation postures. Some are not easy to perform, and others can cause harm when performed quickly or incorrectly. Another problem with not attending a yoga class first is working without an instructor. Teachers help students throughout the session. Many teachers carefully observe their students to keep them out of harm’s way. A beginner who is practicing at home should research the risks of each posture and should have medical clearance before starting a new physical activity.
Especially as beginners, yogis need instruction on correct postures, ways of breathing, and methods of relaxation and focus. A person who begins yoga at home will not have the benefit of feedback on form or technique. Not only can this add up to a difficult learning curve, but it also means the beginner will need to research videos, contraindications, and alignment. This is not entirely a bad thing, because beginners will find some great teachers online, but learning always requires patience with one’s self. That said, Yoga is a journey of patience throughout one’s life.
Yoga Class Atmosphere
An additional reason to attend a yoga class before practicing at home is that taking part in a class also gets a person out of the house and into a new atmosphere. It can be very difficult for someone doing yoga at home to fully relax; at home, the intentionally-structured calm and quiet atmosphere of a yoga class is missing. Even attending a yoga class one time can help practitioners prepare their space for a relaxing, at-home yoga session.
Although most yoga experiences are individualized, attending a class with other participants and seeing their satisfaction or progress tends to provide a separate, though just as satisfying, characteristic of yoga practice. Being around yogis who are highly energized and passionate about yoga can be the motivation a person needs to continue practicing. If, on the other hand, that person begins yoga at home, it can be easy to discontinue practice because the motivation of a support group is not part of the at home experience, unless the practitioner joins an online yoga support group.
Yoga At Home
Practicing at home can still be a very safe activity. Beginners should take care to find a video with a complete session designed by a knowledgeable instructor, and should ensure they have all the proper equipment suggested by the video’s producers. New students should watch a video first and take notes. Work with 15-minute sections of the video and note any parts that need further research. Practicing with an experienced friend who can help with pose instruction is also a smart choice. If a student pays attention to the natural limits of his or her body, that is the most important part of student safety. No teacher can feel your pain and pain is a signal from the body to stop and find another way.
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