The Importance of Practicing in a Community
There’s something electric about moving and breathing with a group of people that you don’t know. Sharing energy, sharing space, and sharing the love of an asana practice. Finding new practices and teachers that sang my heart song. I practiced consistently in a studio setting for many years before I began a home practice.
My home practice began after one of my favorite Iyengar teachers talked about having a practice at home and doing some of these poses at home with props. I thought to myself, “Well, isn’t that why I come here, to practice? Now, my yoga teacher is telling me to do home work, too?” I felt like a little kid whose coach just told them showing up for the game wasn’t enough. So, I purchased a bolster, a strap, two blocks, and two blankets; the standard props for most of my classes. I practiced here and there at home. Nothing consistent. I was still attending classes at the studio, but finding it difficult to make time for a home practice. So, I would occasionally make videos of my headstand practice and proudly share them on my Facebook page.
At the end of 2013, I had developed tendonitis in my right wrist. I was doing too many chaturangas with shitty form and trying to compete with my surrounding practitioners. I wasn’t following one of the basic rules of yoga; Ahimsa, which is non-violence (to self and others.) I was not listening to my body and I would push through despite the pain and discomfort. Cause you know, that damn ego had to win. I already had a pretty bad start to 2013 and to end the year with tendonitis was just the icing on the cake. My wrist was in such bad condition that even when I put even the slightest amount of pressure on it; it made me want to throw up from the pain. I saw a specialist and he said the standard, “rest, ice, and ibuprofen.” So, my practice came to a halt.
It took about two months before I started a home practice. I wanted to do all the things I could do before, but I couldn’t. I just wasn’t there yet. I began to log onto myyogaworks online for classes I could do at home. I did them a couple times of week, but would find myself wandering off my mat to fetch some water or go to the bathroom. It wasn’t the same. I didn’t feel as disciplined. The class felt too slow, I had no connection to the teacher, even if the videos were of my teachers from the studio. I had no real motivation and no one really challenging me. I didn’t feel the electricity and energy from my fellow practitioners. I didn’t know all of the other practitioner’s names, but I knew their faces. I saw them 3-4 times a week. We would share a smile or laugh at something the teacher said. We practiced in a room that held 50 people, mat to mat. I missed the occasional neighbor’s foot in my face for supta padangusthasana. There was nothing sweeter than that. I missed my yoga community.
I went back to the studio and started with Hatha and Gentle Yoga classes, eventually building back up to a more vigorous practice. I had come back with a renewed love and respect for my practice and this yoga community.
Fast forward a few years, I have a home practice, but it's much different than before. I occasionally use online yoga videos, but mostly I do what feels good and what I need that day. But I make sure to attend community classes. It’s important as a student of yoga and as a yoga teacher to have my own consistent practice. It keeps me curious. It keeps me fresh. And most importantly, it keeps me connected to my yoga community.