When I first started doing yoga, I loved the new idea that everything the instructor said was meant to be taken as a suggestion—you could do it exactly as demonstrated, you could do an easier version, you could do a harder version, you could do something else entirely, or you could sit down and watch. All of that was fine and even encouraged. At the time I was also attending a couple of other exercise classes, but this concept of doing what was right for your body on that day was not really part of them. I soon got to the point where I hated being told what to do—and, worse, having encouragement shouted at me—so much that I stopped going to any other classes.
Years later, when I started doing yoga at home, rather than at the gym, it was mostly to save money. I figured I would miss my beloved instructor enough to pay to attend class occasionally, though, and handing over $10 to get into the gym two or three times a month was still cheaper than a membership. What happened instead is that I never set foot in the gym again. I became instantly enamored of the fact that, in addition to its many other advantages, my home practice had absolutely no peer pressure involved—no temptation at all to do something to impress others or to keep up with the class. (You’d like to think that a woman in her 40s would be over the whole peer pressure dynamic—and I believe I’m actually more resistant to it than most people—but when I took it away, it was unbelievable how much of a factor it had been.)
So now I’m all of two days into my experiment of doing home yoga without the video—in other words, with no one watching me or suggesting anything at all. I thought I might feel a bit confused or rudderless, but instead I feel like I’ve been set free. I don’t know that I’ll never go back to the videos, because I’m sure they still have some things to teach me, but man. Ask your doctor if the minimalistic bliss of doing your own thing is right for you.