Comparing an at-home vs. studio-based yoga practice
No matter your mat, mood, or setting, all good yogis know that the real work of yoga takes place within. So why is it that where we’re practicing can make such a difference?
Recent events have led many to adopt a diligent home yoga practice. While it’s hard to estimate just how many local studios have closed their doors, the overwhelming rise in demand for online classes, whether from local teachers or big names like Adriene Mischler, is proof that students will continue on their yogic journey come what may.
A diligent home practice is not without its benefits.
See yourself with svadhyaya.
Svadhyaya, the fourth niyama, is Sanskrit for self-study. When you practice yoga at home, you choose the style, the music, the vinyasa, and every last bit of your practice. It’s a great opportunity to recognize exactly what you and your body are craving over a long period of time.
Tap into tapas.
Another Sanskrit term, tapas means diligence. Without a set time for class or a real live teacher to hold you accountable, it can sometimes be difficult to find the motivation to roll out the mat. Making the conscious decision to practice when there are plenty of distractions throughout your home is significant, and doing so regularly takes serious dedication.
Speaking of distractions…
You may be familiar with the concept of drishti, or focus point, that you’ve put into play during a tough balancing asana. But when the time comes to claim a drishti in the same place you’re living, working, and playing, perhaps that yogic gaze starts to wander. Finding your focus at home may be more challenging than doing so at the studio. At home, you’re used to thinking about a million things other than yoga, whereas the studio might be your solace – mentally and physically. Finding your focus in your self-led practice will indeed take practice, but is no doubt worth it in the long term.
Studios, on the other hand, offer their own advantages.
In both Hindu and Buddhist religions, Kula is a word used to describe godly families, appearing in the Hindu religious law text, Dharmashastra. In Sanskrit, the word can be translated to “clan” or “community.” As Yogapedia puts it well, “The notion of kula embraces the shared values, experiences and sense of connection that many yoga communities strive to create. The adoption of the term within the yoga sphere highlights the idea that those who practice together tend to inspire, motivate and support one another.” A studio offers students a chance to grow in their practice together.
Thank a teacher.
The relationship between teacher and student is a sacred yet nuanced one. Teachers have more knowledge when it comes to proper asana, which can play a key role in practicing safely and preventing injury. As yoga is more than just a physical practice, a teacher can also be helpful when it comes to navigating the spiritual side of yoga. The Bhagavad Gita advises that anyone who wants spiritual knowledge should approach, serve, and sincerely inquire from a qualified acharya, or spiritual teacher.
Get your karma fix.
Behind every local studio is a collective of yogis and yoginis on a mission to help others discover yoga. Giving back to your local community and fostering a smaller one of likeminded yoga students can not only help you build a stronger practice, but it can help others with their dharma, or purpose, as well.
No matter where you roll your mat, your yoga practice is your yoga practice. Ultimately, yoga isn’t about looking outward at your surroundings, but inward at yourself.