5 Tips for Beginning and Maintaining a Home Yoga Practice
We all have days we can’t make it to class, and days when we would rather be at home. Perhaps the best reason to develop a home practice is that it can teach you how to listen and respond to your body. Proprioception, or body intelligence is a skill that requires awareness, practice, and repetition. Each time you step onto your mat you sharpen that skill. Tuning in and moving on your own requires that you dive a bit deeper. A home practice is a special form of svadhyaya or self-study. Knowing how and where to start can feel overwhelming. Follow these tips to get started and stay on track.
- Eliminate distractions. This sounds simple enough but distractions can throw a wrench in a home practice. Dedicate a space to practice in and keep it free of clutter. You don't need to convert an entire room - just a piece of real estate that will fit your mat. When the weather is nice, an outdoor practice is a treat. Turn off your screens, set aside some alone time, and expect that it won't be like practicing at a studio. Things will come up. Allow the stuff you can't control to slip into the background.
- Keep it simple. When I first began practicing at home I set unrealistic expectations. I thought the practice needed to be at least an hour and I tried to fit way too much in. It took some time to realize that my fixation with duration and quantity had me totally missing the point. I practice yoga because it clears my head and it makes me feel more alive. The time it takes to get there doesn't matter, nor do the poses. Next time you're in a class and the teacher guides you through a sequence that you enjoy, jot it down. You don't have to remember the entire class, just a few pieces. Make sure your body is warm if you plan to do a more dynamic practice, and include a portion at the end for seated / supine postures and savasana. Like any story, include a beginning, middle, and end.
- Set a time to practice and follow through. This is where tapas, or discipline comes in. If you are a planner, schedule the practice into your day. Sometimes starting at the top of the hour gives me the motivation and accountability to show up. Set a timer or have a clock nearby if you're worried about going over. A 20-minute practice is a great place to start. Follow through even if you're bored or distracted. With consistency you will learn to love and look forward to practicing at home.
- Respond to your body's needs. This is why practicing at home is so great! You can pick and choose what to do and how to move. What is your body saying? Do you have areas that are tense, sore, achy? What's your energy level? Sometimes a vigorous practice can boost energy levels, and sometimes it's depleting. Move in a way that supports your current state.
- Be consistent. Consistency is key when it comes to maintaining a home practice. Keep showing up and it will become a lifestyle.