One of the most important parts in a yogi’s life is when a regular home practice is created and held. During busy times and summer holidays, it’s difficult to make it to the studio as often as the cooler months. Carving out an hour or more to practice with your community and factoring in travel time and getting ready can really leave us feeling overwhelmed, especially when there are so many other things going on in our lives. That’s why, taking the time to practice at home can be much more of a relief as it is so accessible and accommodating. Below are some tips for starting up a home yoga practice and sticking to it.
Start small – Dedicate just a few minutes a day to start. From there grow your practice to something well-rounded. Allow yourself that hour or hour and a half to breath and move. When the day gets away from you and you feel like there are no hours left in the day for you to take time for yourself, well, that’s when you really need to make it happen. But don’t beat yourself up if some days you just can’t make the 60 or 90 minute practice happen. Allow yourself the space to have a small 20 minute session if that’s all you can do. Even if you only roll out your mat for a 5 minute Savasana, at least you are keeping up with the practice and listening to what your body needs.
Create space – It’s important to create a space that you can go to for your practice. This might be somewhere that has a door that closes and that is the quiet part of your home. Maybe you need to have a conversation with family to let them know that when you are there, it’s your you time. Perhaps having a “Do not disturb” sign up is something else you will need to maintain your space. Whatever you need to do, allow yourself to be selfish and do it. Add in some items that make you happy and help to relax you and get you in the yoga mood. Some great ideas are essential oils, flowers, plants, crystals, candles, and incense. Some people find that having some yoga books, or putting up some yoga pictures in their space helps them to get inspired. Get the right mood lighting too so you can relax the eye muscles.
Equip yourself – Of course you will need the basics item to get started at home: a yoga mat. It’s not necessary to go all out with home props and equipment, but consider putting a few things aside in your space so that they are always accessible and available in case you need a bit of support. A block, or large book can help with forward folds and balancing in a Half Moon, and a strap or scarf can assist with shoulder openings and seated leg stretches. Other items that are nice to have around are cushions, pillows, and blankets to get comfy and golf balls, tennis balls, or dowels, for self-massage. It’s also important to keep your home mat clean so invest in a natural mat spray or make your own with distilled water and tea tree oil.
Find a routine – There will be days where you won’t feel like practising, but having a go-to set routine that you can always turn to will make those days so much easier. The routine can be the simple foundation poses like Cat-Cow, Down-Dog, Warriors, Forward Folds, and Twists. This can be your rock in your home practice by always being there to stabilize and maintain you. Memorize it or better yet, write it out with pictures and put it up in your space to inspire you. That way, when you have uninspiring, long, tough days, you won’t even have to think about what kind of practice you will have to come up with. No excuses!
Switch it up – Having a go-to routine is great, but try not to always fall back onto it. Consider having a practice where you just move intuitively . Check in with yourself and ask what your body and mind need today and then use that as a guide to creating the perfect practice personally catered to you. Some people have trouble guiding themselves through a practice but it is a great exercise for intuition and direction. Otherwise, there are plenty of resources for yoga videos, sequences, and poses. Explore and find something that works for you and enjoy how your needs change from day to day. Doing something different with each one of your self-taught classes brings more excitement and joy to your home practice.
Be safe – Know the importance of safety when practising at home. You don’t have a teacher watching out for correct alignment and checking that you are not hyper-extending or over-doing it. As well, you don’t have someone reminding you to breathe, and check in on how you are doing. It’s extra important to be aware of any pain or discomfort when you are practising on your own, so really be sure you are listening to your body and backing off when needed.
How do you practice at home? Let us know in the comments below!