A home practice can be as variable as the weather, says Victoria Jackson
I’ve had a daily practice pretty much since I started yoga, a daily practice at home that is. I don’t usually say this out loud, unless someone asks explicitly about my yoga practice. My answer always provokes raised eyebrows and some incredulity. “What, every day?” Fellow students can’t understand why I don’t simply come to class to be guided by a teacher. My own students maybe feel they have a lot to live up to. And teachers often look a little shame-faced, perhaps reflecting on their own habits. In fact no-one is ever happy with the way this conversation goes!
I suspect I get this reaction because they’re all assuming that my home practice is much more than it actually is. When we attend class we’re led through a beautiful, well thought-out sequence that might run for more than an hour, so it can be easy to equate yoga with this sort of choreography. In reality, my home practice doesn’t often see me gliding my way through a strong 90 minute vinyasa flow, complete with a fancy outfit and perfect playlist.
Well, it might be like that, but really my practice is as variable as the weather. One day, physical practice might be athletic and adventurous, but just as often it’s short and simple, enough to get me comfortable and able to settle into some quiet reflection or meditation. And this is the real joy of a home practice – that it can be whatever I need it to be. Energising and dynamic, creative or quiet, physical or spiritual…there are no rules in my yoga, I get to choose how, when, and why. And what to wear (which is often pyjamas, by the way).
My yoga practice never appears on my to-do list when I’m planning my day, just as I never think to list out ‘eat breakfast, take shower, get dressed…’. Yoga is just one of those things I do and it’s almost always because I want to. But let’s be realistic, we all have those days…So when practice becomes difficult, I don’t give up, I just lower my expectations. A commitment of five minutes usually turns into something more and always leaves me feeling infinitely better than when I started.
Can you tell how much I love my home practice? But I also love going to class! Yoga is all about balance, after all. When I’m not at home rolling around in my PJs, I love meeting up with other students, being led by my teacher, exploring things I might not otherwise try on my own. The sense of community I get from class is really inspiring, and without them – the teachers and the students – there’d be nothing for me to come home to. It’s one of those yoga paradoxes perhaps. But as Patanjali certainly never said: “it’s all yoga, baby!”
Victoria Jackson lives and practices in Oxford. She is registered with Yoga Alliance as a vinyasa yoga teacher.