The practice of yoga has really grown in popularity in the West in recent decades. Its origins, of course, are in the East, but its healing benefits are universal and have been translated across many cultures. There are a number of different styles and schools of yoga — some ancient and some relatively new. Certain yoga schools are definitely more suited to specific body types, constitutions and personalities than others.
The practice of yoga can emerge from various disciplines and approaches, and some people choose a course of self-study. With the great variety of books, instructional DVDs and online resources available about yoga today, this is certainly a viable option. It is more possible than ever before to learn just about anything via free online resources available on demand over the internet. The internet has certainly revolutionised learning and has made access to information on any topic widely and instantaneously available.
However, there are some things that a book, video or online resource just can’t quite convey. This is where taking a yoga class with an experienced instructor can be invaluable. Here the five top reasons for augmenting your home yoga study and practice with yoga classes led by an instructor:
1. Avoid injury and perfect your form. If you’re new to yoga or are trying out new asanas or positions, even the best photos and illustrations can’t guarantee that your form will be ideal for your body. Receiving immediate feedback from an instructor in a classroom setting can be invaluable in creating good habits of form and execution of each pose. It will also minimise and reduce the risk of injury so that you can continue doing yoga for years to come.
2. Learn about yoga’s history. While a yoga class may not provide a formal yoga history lesson, often yoga instructors will dispense pearls of relevant yoga history and gems of spiritual wisdom before, during or after the yoga class. These will often be spontaneous inspirations right in the moment, relevant to the group of yoginis and yogis assembled at that time. Again, you can’t receive this sort of personalised attention from DVD instruction, which will be the same every time.
3. Structure and accountability. If you are committed to attending a yoga class that meets regularly, you are far more likely to stay on top of a regular yoga practice. It’s more difficult to put off practicing, quit halfway through a class or just not do it all if you’re on your own. Classes and instructors provide the structure and accountability that can lead to long term success and benefits.
4. Receive feedback about your progress. Another benefit of seeing a yoga instructor on a regular practice is that they can watch and report on your progress as your practice unfolds. An objective observer can often give more valuable feedback than we can give ourselves, and an instructor will offer pointers and suggestions at every step of the path.
5. Connect with like-minded people. Finally, a yoga class affords you the opportunity to connect with other people interested in yoga. You simply cannot get this while in your living room alone doing asanas to a DVD, or with your nose in a book.
While self-study definitely has its place and benefits in a yoga practice, there is nothing quite like receiving professional instruction from an experienced practitioner. Consider augmenting your yoga practice with at least one structured class per week, and you’ll be reaping the rewards in no time.
See you in class!
Namaste ~ Amanda