Why a Home Practice
Practicing in a group class is conducive for learning new ideas and poses. While practicing in a group, one is often inspired to try new poses. In a group class setting friendships are made bringing a social aspect to the yoga practice. That aside, developing home practice is essential for anyone desiring to teach yoga. A teacher is required to delve into the subject of yoga in order to understand the nuances of the yoga poses, both physiological and energetic. Only then can a teacher help his or her student advance. In the beginning a new teacher is encouraged to teach sequences developed under the guidance of a skilled teacher. Then, after proficiency and understanding in yoga poses is developed the student teacher may begin to provide their own sequencing when teaching a yoga class.
Developing a home practice will increase confidence, knowledge, and mastery of skillful action. Developing a home practice is also important for progress in providing teachers a venue for exploration to take the yoga practice even further. It is through consistency that teachers make a positive impact on lasting health of the body and mind. Consider of a droplet of water dripping in the same place for years. The result is an indentation, a permanent imprint in that surface. Similarly, with a dedicated home practice, teachers will steadily develop their skills.
Finding Space & Time
Designate a space in the home where there won’t be disturbance and where there is room. De-clutter the space of things and people. This may involve getting up earlier than others or going to bed later. It may also mean banning pets or partners out of the room. Create an environment for a minimum of five minutes a day to practice yoga. Whatever works best, but make a commitment.
To begin, create a prop kit of a minimum one mat, two blankets, one block, and one strap. Other challenges include fear of practicing a pose wrong or not being familiar with the yoga enough that you feel comfortable practicing on your own. One option is to practice to a DVD. You can also just practice just one or two poses that you're comfortable with in the beginning. Remember start small and be consistent. You don't have to do a full practice every single day.
What to Practice
For aspiring yoga teachers, it is recommended to begin with poses that will be used in teaching. For example, Supta Tadasana, Balasana, and Adho Mukha Svanasana. Consider the following while practicing the individual poses: what actions are beneficial for creating ease in the pose, what modifications are necessary, and what are the benefits of practicing the pose? Develop a language of how you would guide a student in the pose. While in Supta Tadasana, for example, “lengthen the back of the neck so that the muscles of the face flow towards the chest, relax the arms at the sides, lengthen the lower back towards the heels and relax the legs.” Modifications for Supta Tadasana include placing support below neck and head if head is tipped back and a support below knees if the low back is uncomfortable. Practice of Supta Tadasana calms the nervous system, directs the students awareness inward release tension in the body and mind.
Once, a student teacher gains understanding of individual yoga poses it is time to practice a sequence. There is an abundance of sources for sequences and poses to incorporate into one’s practice. Initially, practice writing down sequences of classes you take and practice the sequence. Another option is to practice to a DVD that contains sequences at the desired level of teaching. For beginner teachers it is essential to practice beginner sequences in order to develop proficiency in teaching beginner students. Then, when teaching advanced classes, a teacher is encouraged to practice those advanced yoga poses and develop proficiency in teaching higher-level classes.
Additional options include, practice an online class, or an audio of a favorite teacher. Moreover, practice sequences before teaching them to students. In this way, the home practice will support both health and teaching performance.
Stay consistent with practicing and make sure to allocate time for it whether it is daily, weekly, or monthly. It may be in the morning, afternoon or evening, but make sure that the minimum commitment is maintained. Remember to start small and be consistent. One doesn’t have to do a full practice every single day.
Recommended Yoga DVDs and online streaming services
· Yoga for Beginners – Patricia Walden
· Rodney Yee’s Yoga for Beginners