Wednesday, August 22, 2012

yoga is my church

as some of you know, i am a strong advocate for the practice of yoga and its physical and emotional health benefits. i've been practicing yoga for 10 years, and i started doing it at home. i had gone to a few classes here and there, and when i was living in Chicago i began my home practice. i had a tiny little TV with the built-in VCR, and i watched Rodney Yee's videos (if you don't know about Rodney Yee, Google him. he wears awesome tiny black yoga shorts that always made me giggle.). it was a great way to start my home yoga practice, in a comfortable, non-competitive environment.

when i first moved to Minneapolis in 2006, i practiced and studied yoga with my teacher Ben Vincent, from One Yoga. as i delved deeper into my practice, i learned more and more about myself and the practice of yoga itself. it is manifested in different ways for different people, and we all have different abilities. i rarely practiced at home, since the studio was a half block from my apartment. in Truckee, i became close to my friend and teacher Ann Marie Sheridan, who now owns Namaste studio and utilizes a similar teaching style to Ben. this consistency in teaching improved my practice and my understanding of yoga. as some of you read previously, i found a great spot at my most recent house in Truckee to practice, outside in the backyard among giant pine trees. it was magnificent.

Warrior 1 pose

now i am back in Minneapolis getting ready for grad school in a few weeks and my yoga practice has become grounding for me, during a time of readjustment and new beginnings. i'm living with my parents (you can laugh but its FREE) and they have an awesome Midwestern rec-room, multi-purpose basement. with a huge space sometimes used for the grandkids' playspace, i am also able to use it as a yoga space when i want to practice at home. this week i am house and dogsitting for my sister while she and the family are in Seattle, and once again i was able to find a small space to lay my mat. she has a massive walk-in closet (filled with lawyer-y clothes, amazing vintage pieces and tons of beautiful shoes) with a small wood floor space just big enough for my mat and some standing poses.

Tree pose - a practice in balance
some of you are probably thinking, "how the heck can i practice at home if i'm not that 'good' at yoga?" well first of all, there's no such thing as being 'good' or not at yoga. it is a practice and should be viewed that way. i may be able to do advanced poses, but i don't think of myself as being 'good' at it. it may be easier to begin a home practice after you become more familiar with poses and are not fearful of injuring yourself. for beginners, i recommend attending at least a few classes to gain some ideas about what their home practice could look like, and to learn proper alignment for those poses.

you may also be wondering how you can cultivate a home practice if you are not a trained teacher. how will you know which poses to do and when? for me, this is the beauty of the home practice. i generally don't start my home practice with a specific idea for the poses i'll do, but i naturally fall into a routine that i've gotten used to through different classes and teachers. if i start to feel lost as to what to do next, i take a minute to breathe deeply and check in with how my body feels. this will usually tell me what i'd like to do. sometimes i only practice for 20-30 minutes, other times i practice for an hour or more at home. without a specific agenda in mind, the home practice allows me to be fully aware of my body's needs, and to practice without any distractions.

i encourage everyone to consider a home practice of yoga and/or meditation at either a regularly scheduled time or sporadically. everyone's needs are different. for more ideas about poses and a home practice, check out these online resources:

10 tips for practicing yoga at home
Yoga for beginners at home (video)
A home practice

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