Students often ask me how often they should ideally practice yoga. My answer is usually something along the lines of ‘If you’re planning on coming to a yoga class at my Stellenbosch yoga studio, try to come at least once or twice a week. However, the ideal would be to rather spend 5-10 minutes each day on your mat, or even just practicing breath awareness, rather than waiting for one 75 minute class once per week’.
One of the beautiful things about yoga is it’s accessibility – you don’t have to be on your mat, in a yoga studio, in a tranquil environment or ‘in a good space’ before you ‘do’ yoga. Yoga can be done lying in your bed before you get up in the morning – some gentle stretches, setting an intention for your day, focusing on your breathing. It can be practiced in a shopping queue, with a focus on patience, acceptance and maybe even a bit of gentle pranayama or tree (although your fellow shoppers may look at you strangely if your ujjayi breath is particularly hissy or if you dive into a deep and resonating ‘om‘ at the checkout).
That said, a home practice, however simple, can often be quite daunting, even for seasoned yogis, so I wanted to share this link to free online yoga videos for when you can’t get to class. It can also be helpful if you’re a beginner and want to get a taste for what it’s all about before you actually set foot in a studio.
But remember, even for experienced practitioners, the teachers in these videos may seem a bit threatening in that they all seem so perfectly formed, graceful and super-flexible.
The point of our yoga practice is not to be stunningly beautiful on the mat, have the perfect yoga outfit, or do the yoga poses flawlessly. The point is to keep learning, evolving, and flowing with our experience.
Some days, we’ll be in flow; we won’t fall over in Tree Pose, we won’t struggle to do yet another sun salutation. Some days, we’ll feel grumpy and stiff and our bodies won’t do what they could do perfectly well the day before.
Yoga is a practice, a way to keep present, and to connect with our bodies and minds. There is no ‘goal’ in yoga, no place where you can end up and can then go no further. When we get too good at a particular sequence, when we don’t even have to think about it, it’s time to change things up, to add poses that challenge us to keep growing. That’s why it’s called a yoga practice, not yoga perfect.