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Doing yoga without a teacher

I hope you are doing well wherever you’re joining me from. Today I wanted to talk to you about practicing yoga at home without a teacher. One of my lifelines during this pandemic has been my self-guided yoga asana, pranayama, and meditation practice, but I realize that many people haven’t ever practiced yoga on their own! I hope this note inspires you to give it a try.

I’ve been practicing yoga from home since 2005 when I used to do Alanna Kaivalya’s Jiva Diva Yoga Jam podcast every afternoon after school. This set a foundation for me to start practicing yoga without a podcast or teacher, and to roll out my mat on my own.

Why Do a Self-Guided Yoga Practice

My teachers and the classes I attend teach me new poses, alignment cues, and safe sequencing. Then I take these lessons home, where I get to try poses again, adjust them to my body, and explore deeper. A yoga teacher I greatly admire, Jason Crandall, says that you need consistency to build capacity. If you tried to learn piano and played a different song each day, you wouldn’t get that far. But if you practice some of the same songs again and again, you gain proficiency and get better. The same is true for your yoga shapes. I’m amazed at how doing a pose for the 2nd, 5th, or 50th time can suddenly bring new insights. 

So your self-guided practice is an opportunity to repattern the body as you consistently do specific shapes and sequences.

I also find that the self-guided practice becomes a body maintenance practice. By that I mean that your self-guided practice is exactly tailored to you and your specific needs, so it becomes a practice that helps you rehabilitate injuries, prevent new ones, support strengths, and reduce weaknesses. I’ve found this particularly true in my postpartum body: I now see how these daily shapes that I take keep my body functioning well and feeling strong. 

I’ve been thinking about how much I’ve come to rely on my home practice as an anchor in my daily routine and to balance my body and energy for the day. Yes, these shapes affect my physical body, but I also feel the energy move through my body to create balance, calm, or whatever else it is I need that day. 

Remember…

You don’t have to practice for exactly 60 minutes. You don’t need the perfect playlist or order of poses. You just need to show up with a sincere desire to move energy in the body and learn more about yourself.

How to Get Started With Your Self-Guided Yoga Practice

The best way to get started is to get started! Roll out your mat, set a timer for 15 minutes, and then start to move. Do any shapes you remember from class. Don’t worry about the order. 

After you finish, ask yourself how you feel. What did that set of shapes do to your body and energy? The first day is the hardest. So get started – and then make sure you show up for day two! 

Here are three questions that can help you get (and keep) a self-guided yoga practice:

  1. Why do you want to start a self-guided yoga practice? 
  2. What are the qualities or yoga shapes you most enjoy in your current yoga or movement practice? (Hint: do more of these!)
  3. What do you need in your practice to be set up for success. For example – have music playing, setting a timer, wearing earphones, or writing out the sequence beforehand.

You can find more details about these questions here.

Getting Extra Support and Accountability

If you’re needing a little more guidance to figure out what to do in your practice and how to stick with it consistently, enlist a little help! In fact, I do just that. Clients and I will set an hour to discuss your goals, and we’ll do some yoga and design a practice that you can do on your own. It can be just the right level of structure you need to help you stick with your self-guided practice consistently. (And if you’re interested in doing that – sign up for a free consult here!)

Another way to get started with your home practice is to check out my Learning Library over on Patreon. There you’ll find 5- to 15-minute videos that share pose tutorials, breathing practices, and directed sequences that can serve as a launching board for exploration in your yoga practice. Learn more over on Patreon.com and check out the Sangha membership level for full access to the Learning Library. 

I’d love to hear from you. Do you practice yoga on your own? Have you been hesitant to try it out? Let me know what your experience is and let me know how I can help support you in creating a home yoga practice.

 

  Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day,   Sam

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