If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that last year I got serious about fitness. I started exercising regularly and began my yoga practice. At the time, I was not working and our budget was seriously tight. There was no way I could afford to take a weekly yoga class and even the specials that many yoga studios offered were out of my league. But I knew I wanted to incorporate yoga into my fitness routine as a way to become more flexible and strong.
Yoga has become much more to me over these past few months and I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to be introduced to it by . . . a DVD. I can acknowledge that it would probably have been more ideal to have worked with a certified yoga instructor but I can also be honest and say that if I had waited to start practicing until I could afford it, I would probably still be waiting. Doing yoga DVDs at home was not only cheap but convenient since I didn't have to travel anywhere to do them. I'd simply wake up in the morning, toss on some comfortable clothes and get to it!
I know many recommend that you start practicing yoga under the guidance of a real instructor to avoid injury. A yoga teacher would know about alignment and help his/her student get his/her body into the proper form. That one-on-one is missing with yoga DVDs. But happily, many yoga DVDs today are actually very detailed and precise. One such DVD is Living Room Yoga Strengthen and Lengthen. Other DVDs while not as precise, are slow enough and simple enough as to be easily accessible to even the most rank beginner. One such routine is the Fat Burning Yoga program on Crunch: Perfect Yoga Workout.
I've read a number of times that sometimes yoga practicitioners struggle to develop a home practice. since they practice primarily under the guidance of teacher in a class setting. I think since I started at home, I really developed a love for my practice at home in solitude. Oh, I enjoy the energy of a class but I find home practice invigorating too. Another wonderful thing about practicing and studying on my own first is that when I first arrived at class, I had a pretty good idea of terminology and of what was going on in general.
I'm not advocating that people begin their yoga practice the way I did. But I will say that it worked for me. These DVDs gave me a way to start practicing. They made it accessible to me. I won't lament how expensive yoga classes can be now that yoga is a trend. I won't point out that only folks who are doing pretty well financially could swing unlimited yoga classes. I will point out that I can practice yoga as often as I want at home with my DVDs and not worry about breaking the bank. I will also say that there is a book out there that really helped me maximize my yoga DVDs and it's called 30 Essential Yoga Poses. The book offers detailed explanations as to what the body should be doing in each pose and why each pose is beneficial as well as warnings and contraindications. So I don't have to worry about breaking something.
I do want to deepen and extend my yoga practice (physical and spiritual) so I hope to one day soon be able to find an instructor who can help me. I actually want to find a guru. I'm not in the position now, but I want to take classes on a regular basis at some point. Certain poses I refuse to try at home on my own such as plow pose or headstand. But I want to get there with the help of a teacher. So please don't take this post as minimizing the importance of yoga instructors and yoga teachers.
So if asked which should come first, classes or at home, I'd say that's a very individual decision that is largely based on one's own personality (will you try to force your body into doing things it's not ready for or are you able to listen to your body), likes and dislikes (some folks don't like any form of solitary exercise), and last but not least, intuition (see the post below).