Sometimes doing yoga at home feels like it's another thing on the 'thing to do' list for the day. I know that yoga at home is so much more convenient than going to a studio, so at least I know that I'm not needing to spend the 45 minutes getting to and from a studio, plus 30 minutes chatting and faffing time and then the hour long class. So really, an hour of home yoga takes an hour for once. But STILL - oh, rolling out that mat, the effort. It all is sometimes just too heavy, too difficult.
And then when I get on the mat, it often takes quite a bit of creaking and clicking before I start to feel the lightness that yoga brings to my body.
Why do I practice yoga to begin with? Because it makes me feel amazing in every way. It's not because I need my hamstrings to be super-long. It's not because I'm about to join cirque de soleil and need to impress the crowd with my backbends. No, I practice because it makes me feel incredibly light and spacious in mind and body.
I practise mostly at home because there is nobody to cheerlead me into a pose, I do a pose because I want to and because it feels great. And I hold it for exactly as long as feels amazing. There are many poses I don't do. Due to injuries, some poses just aren't suitable for me. And that's what it is to be human and have a body. We are each of us so beautifully unique, we really don't need to have a one-practice fits all yoga. And I practise at home because I don't want either people looking at me and thinking that's what they should be doing with their bodies, or me seeing from the corner of my eye a variation of the pose and wishing I could do that. I don't need that kind of heaviness in my life. I don't need to feel a community when I do yoga, because yoga to me is a very light and internal practice. I enjoy talking to others about it afterwards, but I'm an introvert, I don't feel group energy, it just feels like group sweat and the air pungent with students' unspoken words to each other. I often don't want teachers' adjustments to deepen my practice - all I need is a very calm, very smooth and deep focus on the breath. And bizarrely, my 'deepest' yoga classes haven't been after a two-hour long advanced intensives in workshops or on retreats. They have been very light, breath-focused classes, where my breath has opened up my body and mind to freedom and light in ways I never knew possible.
I somehow feel invincible, even after a short yoga practice, so light I could float, but also so grounded and somehow able to see the beauty of the minutiae of our world around us. But this isn't because I'm grunting and straining to dropback, or forcing my hands into a bind behind my back. My secret is in lightness. A lightness in attitude, because really there is absolutely no aim and no goal in the practice. It is simply a practice. And a lightness in body, somehow when the bandhas engage, it's impossible not to feel incredibly light. No, I don't look like a tiny gymnast, but I feel like a goddess.
My yoga practice is light. And I think it's more so because it's a home practice. I bespoke the class I choose to exactly which part of my body feels like it needs to open. How much time can I dedicate to my breath and movement. And how much movement versus steady breath work does my body need on that particular day, at that particular hour.
In order to keep a lightness, I start with a lightness. I don't care if I 'progress' or not, I don't care if I balance or not. I don't care about the way I look. I care about the way I feel during and after class. And lightness is my bench-mark for both before or after practice.
So are you ready to lighten up your yoga practice?
Kat Farrants is Founder of Movement for Modern Life, Movementformodernlife.com, the UK's online yoga site featuring 400 videos (with 3 new ones uploaded each week) of the top teachers from the UK and beyond.
This blog first appeared here