Is Yoga Without an Instructor Worth Doing?

Practicing yoga has many health benefits for your body and mind. It’s an excellent form of exercise that almost anyone can do. While some choose to practice in a studio with an instructor, others may find themselves unable to do that. But is yoga without an instructor worth doing?

Yoga without an instructor is worth doing. While practicing yoga with an instructor may, overall, be better to achieve a vast range of benefits, practicing without an instructor will still provide you with the many health and wellness benefits yoga is known for. 

For more than 5,000 years, people around the world have been practicing yoga because of the many health benefits it offers. It is an excellent way to strengthen the mind, body, and soul. Whether you’re looking to lose weight, gain flexibility, or lower your stress levels, practicing yoga either in a classroom setting with an instructor or at home without is extremely beneficial.

Reasons to Work with an Instructor

When deciding to start a yoga program, you have plenty of options. Some find it beneficial to work with an instructor rather than on their own, and there are several reasons to choose this option, especially if you are new to yoga.

  1. They will help you practice poses correctly. An instructor can watch you as you pose and correct even those minor adjustments that may need to be made. 
  2. They can help you do harder poses. Yoga poses can often look unattainable, but you just may need a little bit of work to get there. An excellent instructor can guide you in building a solid foundation and help you work your way up to those more challenging poses. 
  3. You can gain a better overall understanding of yoga. Not only can an instructor guide you to understand the poses and basic tenets of yoga, but they can also better explain terms, ideas, and lifestyle practices that many yogis find beneficial.

Other Benefits of Practicing with an Instructor

Many find going to in-person classes and working with an instructor to be extremely beneficial. Because you are working with someone who has trained specifically in the art of yoga, you may find some additional benefits you won’t find on your own.

  • Accountability. When you work with an instructor, you have set times and days you attend class, as well as someone who knows if you showed up and practiced your poses or not. If you’re not extremely disciplined enough to practice on your own, going to an instructor is a good choice.
  • Modifications. One of the most significant advantages of working with an instructor is the knowledge they have on how to adapt and modify poses for different bodies. This is extremely helpful if you’re dealing with an injury or other complications that make certain poses difficult.
  • More equipment. Most yoga instructors and studios have a good amount of equipment that you can use. It’s a great way to try something out before investing in it yourself. 
  • Community. When you go to a studio and take a class with an instructor, you can meet new people and build new relationships. This can open the door to a whole new community you can feel a part of. 
  • Atmosphere. Yoga is an excellent way to calm the mind and spirit. Part of that calming effect is the atmosphere in which you practice. Studios and instructors place great value on this and create amazing spaces. 

Reasons to Practice Yoga on Your Own

  1. You can practice on your own time. Whenever you have spare time, you can roll your mat out and get your workout done. 
  2. You can save money. One of the main reasons to practice yoga without an instructor is to save money. While many yoga classes are quite affordable, practicing at home costs nothing more than purchasing a yoga mat.
  3. You can set your own pace. Practicing at home without an instructor will allow you to choose the flow of poses you want to work on instead of depending on your instructor to choose the workout. This allows you to take as much time with the poses as you want. 
  4. You can explore new types of yoga. There are many different forms (anywhere from eight to 11 to be exact) of yoga, and most yoga instructors only focus on one. Depending on the area you live in, you may not have a wide array of instructors in your area to choose from. Working on your own means you can find online instructors and learn those new types of yoga from home. 

Other Benefits of Practicing without an Instructor

  • Privacy. Some people find yoga intimidating, and the thought of going to a studio causes them to run the other way out of fear of judgment. If you work without an instructor in the privacy of your own home, you’re free from watching eyes that may make you feel uncomfortable. 
  • Time-saver. Practicing at home without an instructor is a great way to stay healthy while saving time. You don’t have to commute to the studio; you can just roll out your mat and get to work. If you have a busy lifestyle, working on your own may be your best option.
  • Healthy lifestyle. Choosing to start, and continue, a yoga program is a right step on the path to a healthy lifestyle. When you work at home without an instructor and stick to your schedule, you still get the many health benefits yoga offers, such as strengthening muscles, increasing flexibility, and it can even help alleviate anxiety and stress. No yoga instructor required.

How to Start Practicing Yoga on Your Own

Starting your yoga practice at home without an instructor is fairly easy. In fact, you really don’t need more than yourself and a yoga mat to get started. But there are also plenty of tools and aids that you may find useful. Here’s a breakdown of what you need:

Yoga Mat 

A good yoga mat is a necessity for practicing on your own. It provides a non-slip surface to ground yourself in those poses. Mats will range in price, and while you may be tempted to just look for the cheapest, that’s not always the best move. You want to look for a yoga mat that has excellent grip and thickness

*Tip: Make sure you remember to clean your mat after use. While you can invest in actual mat cleaners, you can also mix soap and water in a spray bottle, spray the mat, and then wipe. Goodbye, germs!

Clothing 

While you don’t necessarily need specific workout gear to practice yoga, it is beneficial to invest in some clothing that won’t hinder your movement. Form-fitting clothes won’t hang or fall over your head when you bend down for a pose. You can even find yoga socks, complete with grip bottoms, that will help you from sliding on your mat.

Towel 

You’ll most likely want to keep a towel nearby while practicing yoga to wipe your mat if needed. It can also be rolled up and used as a bolster for your neck or back. 

Other Equipment 

There are many additional tools that you can use to help your yoga practice. Blocks are great to use if your flexibility is making poses hard to reach. Straps will also help those harder to reach poses such as touching your toes or connecting your arms behind your back. 

Choosing the Right Yoga Program

Whether you choose to work with or without an instructor, the first thing you need to decide on what type of yoga you would like to practice. The most popular types of yoga are Vinyasa and Hatha, but there are several others, and each provides unique benefits. 

Here are some of the commonly practiced types of yoga:

  • Hatha – Hatha is one of the most popular types of yoga. It is based on practicing yoga poses and is generally considered a more comfortable workout, which is excellent for beginners.
  • Vinyasa – Another popular style of yoga is Vinyasa. You’ll move a lot more in this style of yoga as the focus is on connecting poses through movement. The transitions through poses are also linked with breathing. If you’re looking for a more physical yoga workout, Vinyasa is a great option.
  • Bikram – Bikram yoga combines physical poses and breathing and turns up the heat. Many studios will practice at 105 degrees to get you to sweat out those impurities as you bend and twist. The routine is set at 26 poses and will always follow the same pattern. Hot yoga, which is almost the same as Bikram, is also practiced in a hot studio, but the pattern of poses will change according to the instructor. 
  • Ashtanga – One of the longest practiced (in the west) forms of yoga is Ashtanga. This style is similar to Vinyasa, but the same poses are performed each time, while Vinyasa workouts will vary. 
  • Restorative – The Restorative style of yoga focuses on offering a relaxing experience through slower movements. Poses are held for longer to provide deep stretches and time to relax. It’s a great pick-me-up for when you’re stressed.

Choosing a Program with an Instructor 

Yoga has grown exponentially over the years to the point where you can find a studio in almost any town. But if you’re looking to start practicing yoga and want to work with an instructor, how do you know what program and instructor are for you? 

  • Style – Try a few styles of yoga to find what you prefer. Once you decide, look for classes and an instructor that practices that style as well. 
  • Expertise – You should also look for a studio that offers classes for different levels of expertise and take the classes that match your level. If you’re a beginner, you’ll want to look for classes that are less rigorous and allow for more hands-on help from the instructor. 
  • Instructor Qualifications – If you choose to practice yoga with an instructor, it would be beneficial to do a little bit of research to find how long they’ve been teaching or if they are certified.

Once you’ve found a class you want to take here are a few tips to make your first visit go smoothly:

  • Bring the right equipment. While many studios do have mats you can borrow, you may want to bring your own. You may also want to grab a towel and a water bottle.
  • One of the biggest taboos in a yoga class is stepping on another yogi’s mat, so remember to keep your feet to your own mat.
  • Don’t eat before class. As yoga involves twisting and bending, you don’t want to practice on a full stomach.

Choosing a Program without an Instructor 

If you would prefer to practice at home and take advantage of the many health benefits of yoga, there are many great programs. But it can sometimes be challenging to know which of the many that are available is going to be best for you. Here are some of the top-rated programs to help get you started:

Apps 

Today we have a plethora of apps that will allow you to find or customize a yoga program to meet your needs. There are plenty of free apps, as well as some that come with a monthly subscription fee. Here are some of the top-rated yoga apps:

  1. Glo 
  2. Asana Rebel
  3. Alo Moves
  4. Peleton Digital
  5. Down Dog
  6. Daily Yoga
  7. 5 Minute Yoga
  8. Yoga Studio: Mind and Body
  9. Gaia
  10. Pocket Yoga

With an app, you do have the flexibility of viewing videos and yoga poses to match on any of your mobile devices. However, for those who prefer to see everything on the big screen, there’s also the option of using DVDs or videos on a computer. 

Videos

From DVDs to online videos, the number of yoga videos to choose from is endless. You can find great and free, yoga programs on streaming services like YouTube. 

There are also several yoga-dedicated websites that have some great videos for all stages. (Glo and Gaia are great places to start.) These sites do usually charge a monthly subscription fee to have access to their videos, so if you don’t want to spend money, try the free streaming services. 

If a DVD program is something you would prefer, there are a plethora of great options for you as well; here are some top-rated DVDs:

Books

If you’d like to do some more in-depth studying of yoga, there are plenty of books full of poses and helpful tips for you. Some even have sections on meditating to help guide you into a more profound connection of body and mind. Here are several top-rated books to get you started:

Once you have your equipment and know what program you plan to follow, all you need to do is start! Here are a few tips to get the most out of your work on your own program:

  • Set a schedule. To attain all the benefits from yoga, you need to set yourself up for success by creating a schedule. 
  • Set a place. Having a peaceful environment to practice yoga adds greater benefits to your practice. Find a quiet place where you have enough room to practice and add to the atmosphere with calming music, some aromatherapy, or maybe even a small water feature. 
  • Stick to it! A yoga program is only as good as your commitment to it. 

Creating a Hybrid Program

Of course, there’s no rule that says that you can’t practice alone and with an instructor! If you’re looking for a great way to stay consistent with your yoga practice, a hybrid program is a great option. A hybrid program combines the best of both instructor-led classes and practice at home. 

To create a well-structured hybrid program, remember the following:

  • Plan. Decide when you will take a class and which days and times you practice from home. You’ll be more likely to follow through when you have a set schedule.
  • Choose your programs. Decide if you will use a video or app for the days you are at home. You may also want to discuss and create a program with your instructor.
  • Commit. While an instructor can hold you accountable in class when you’re working on your own, your commitment to the program outside of class is essential to your success.

Final Thoughts

Yoga is extremely beneficial for your body, mind, and soul, and whether you choose to work with an instructor or on your own, the important thing is to practice. Take some time to figure out what exactly you want to get out of yoga and which approach will best get you results. Working with an instructor or your own is always worth it. So, grab your mat and get moving!

Sita

Mother of three and Yogi of 20+ years and 200 Hour Certified Yoga Teacher. I am also a Certified Thai massage therapist and I have taught Gymnastics for more than 10 years. In the last couple of years, I've been a big promotor of intermittent fasting.

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