GO YOU! You’ve finally found a yoga class that you love and a teacher you connect with and have gotten into a routine of getting that cute butt on your mat as often as possible.
And then what? Your yoga teacher only goes and buggers off on holiday/yoga retreat/teacher training/insert other here.
How bloody annoying! Now what are you supposed to do? Sit on the sofa, twiddle one’s thumbs and maybe see what’s new on Netflix. Well here’s another idea… Roll out that mat and develop a wonderful self-practice of your own! Not only will you discover a new level of self-discipline but you will also find self-motivation in your home environment which can be challenging at first, but oh so rewarding if you keep at it.
I feel obliged to write this blog post as I myself am one of those yoga teachers. I’m often away from my students as I have another full time job (like most instructors), that often means I have to travel abroad. I am very fortunate though. The venues I teach at are always incredibly supportive, and the teachers that cover my classes are seriously brilliant, but I’m very aware that for some students they stay at home (not practising) keeping a close eye on my social media to check when I’m back in the country ready to teach.
Let’s not forget bank holidays and the Christmas break – it’s absolutely glorious to munch on Lebkuchen and wash it down with a mulled wine while watching Harry Potter, but neglecting a consistent practice can leave you stiff, unbalanced, and well, not quite right.
Your practice doesn’t have to stop because your teacher is away or poorly or if it’s Christmas or summer vacation. First of all, classes are usually covered rather than cancelled (unless it’s last minute or a holiday) and it gives you a beautiful opportunity to experience wisdom from another teacher. I personally love variety. I know what I like and what I don’t but I also love the chance to see how a different teacher operates and sequences a class.
BUT many of us are set in our ways and like our routine – especially us Brits. Therefore a missed class can have more of an impact than just a minor inconvenience. We can feel more stressed and bad tempered without our regular yoga fix.
In my own practice, I usually carve out 2 hours a day for asana and meditation, but when I travel for work this is often impossible. Depending on where I am going and what I am doing, I’m lucky to squeeze in a weekly class which of course massively disrupts my chi.
In my opinion, developing your own practice is essential if you attend classes regularly. Most yogis will practise yoga in some form every day. You only have to look to hard core Ashtangis who are so disciplined they practise 6 days a week.
For the average person who just wants to use yoga for an escape once a week this can be an absurd ask. I often give my students homework but know that less than 10% will actually practice at home.
So what do we do about it?
First of all, figure out realistically how much time you can dedicate to your own practice. Maybe it’s small pockets of time here and there, or maybe when you really think about it, there is a nice gap one day of the week where you can shut the door and devote that time completely to yourself for some yoga.
Work and family life can make this really challenging, but be honest with yourself and work out how much time you can carve out for you. Maybe it means waking up a little earlier to squeeze in a short practice, or hitting the hay a bit later if you need something more restorative.
If you need a little pick me up, even a few rounds of Sun Salutations can energise the body enough for the day ahead, so don’t be so hard on yourself if your free time for a yoga practice isn’t as much as you would like.
Once you have planned in some time for a practice, think about what you would like to work on. Maybe you use the time to work on some skills including more advanced asanas you want to eventually achieve. I personally like to spend more time in my own practice focusing on things that I find more challenging and after a good flow working on more advanced asana allows me to monitor my own progress in strength and flexibility.
If you need something more structured you can always look at the plethora of classes available online.
Now your thoughts might instantly be directed to YouTube but I would err on the side of caution here. While there are some amazing instructors on YouTube offering some awesome classes, there is also A LOT of rubbish out there. Quite often you have to trawl through a lot of irrelevant and disappointing classes to find the golden nuggets. I have spent hours finding some good classes on YouTube but to be honest, I only really use it for help with something specific and usually that’s a 5-10 minute tutorial that I use in addition not instead of my practice.
The attraction of YouTube is that it’s free. However, it drives me insane when the adverts pop up and like I said, for me finding a class I love is often like finding a needle in a haystack.
What is WAY more effective for me personally is on-demand yoga classes that are taught by my favourite teachers. Yoga teachers whose style I like and who are going to make me feel amazing afterwards. I apply the same attitude as I would when picking a regular yoga class – the teacher matters.
Therefore, if your regular teacher is away and unable to teach your regular class, why not see if they offer a class online? On-demand classes are usually the fraction of the cost of a regular yoga class and you can have them on your computer or smartphone whenever you want them.
For my own personal practice this is the way forward for me. I live in a remote part of the country where advanced classes are quite rare and often what I am personally looking for isn’t available and if it is, it’s at a time when I’m unable to make the class or workshop.
Online classes are also perfect if you are busy and work full time. Fitting in a class at home when it suits you is way more time efficient than hop footing it to class when you factor in how long it takes to get to and from the studio. For example, if I’m teaching a single one hour class it can easily take me two hours minimum and that’s not factoring in the time I like to allow myself before class to greet my students and the time after class to answer any questions. It really doesn’t take a mathematician to work out the time benefits of a home practice.
This is one of the main reasons I created my on-demand courses. As a teacher I want to reach out to as many people as possible sharing the benefits of my style of teaching as well as offer an alternative to those who, for whatever reason, cannot make it to class. As a student who loves a regular home practice, I wanted to produce classes online that I would want to do, that had enough varied content and useful information to encourage stay-at-home yogis to develop a regular practice wherever they may be.
These awesome online courses when taken together with your regular classes at the studio or the gym result in a beautiful well-rounded practice that will reap benefits of a solid, safe and strong practice which will help you to progress not only physically but mentally as well.
Another fantastic way to get your yoga fix or even in addition to your regular routine is to find a good yoga podcast.
There are so many incredible teachers who host podcasts full of help and advice on how to deepen your practice, yoga philosophy and even help on how to develop your own practice. When I don’t have some sci-fi fantasy novel playing on my audible app, I’m usually listening to a decent yoga podcast. Again, like YouTube some channels I connect with and some I really don’t, but the beauty of this is that you can expand your knowledge and understanding during your commute or doing daily tasks.
So rather than feel put out if your regular class gets cancelled, check out other options that might work for you. You may just find some online yoga gold, a new community and some awesome new teachers to practice with.
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