Five Steps to Your Home Yoga Practice
Anybody can practice yoga at home. Over the years of practicing yoga I have experienced with various styles and teachers and still really enjoy going to a class. I love to be challenged in a new way that I do not always get from my own practice. However, my home practice has been the constant in the last two years and has enabled me to continue to teach and keep a sense of why I do this practice. I have just recently started a new full time job which means I have less time to get to a class. I made a commitment to myself to get on my mat every day and here are some things that may help you to cultivate a home practice:
1) Make a commitment to yourself
I've been hearing a lot about 'self-care' and 'self-love' in the last number of years. One of the things I struggled with was knowing what this looked like. For me, I realized it meant get on the mat. I practice not because I want to achieve a specific pose but because it's self-care. We find it easier to give to others but not too easy to care for ourselves. It's like the safety talk on an airplane – put your own oxygen mask on first. If you are not breathing then you can not give in the same way to others. Put yourself first and make a commitment to yourself.
2) Remember that the body knows what to do
Students tell me all the time that they do not know what to do at home. The body knows. All you have to do is show up on the mat. Yoga is just natural movement. We are moving the body in ways that feel good and the intention is not to over-stretch, tense or stress the body but in fact, the opposite. Think of a baby learning to crawl. Nobody has to show them what to do, it's natural and it's instinct. When come out of you head and into your body you will know what to do.
3) Discover your style
My practice has moved from a very masculine, structured sequence to a feminine, floaty dance. Sometimes with music. Sometimes in silence paying real attention to my breath. I read a lot of articles on yoga that pop up on social media feeds and I find that there is almost a competition on what 'real yoga' is. This just causes more separation in this practice that extremely is supposed to unite us. So I say find your own style. Do what feels intuitively right for you and do not worry what a posture looks like or if your alignment is 100%. Keep listening to your body and have fun.
4) Create a ritual
A convenient time and a comfortable space are important when practicing at home. You do not need much to create your home practice but making it work for you is important. I put my hands up and admit I find it so hard to get up early enough to do a full practice. So I now get on the mat for a few minutes. I may do some sun salutations or just stay in child's poses following my breath. Sometimes it's more or less but it helps me start the day right. And then I often find myself coming back to the mat in the evening for a longer practice. Do what works for you. Create a space. Light a candle or some sage.
5) Go to classes
Find a teacher that you like and go to regular classes. This will help you with all of the above and your home practice. You will learn sequences that you can recreate at home and hopefully be inspired to continue your practice outside of class. A teacher will help you with alignment and hopefully help you access your own intuitive knowledge about how your body works.