A guide to starting a home practice

Home Practice, its not always easy and not always serene! Essentially we would love to be practicing in a very romantic and spa like setting, but often we find ourselves in weird positions close to our couch with a puppy in our face! Knowing where or how to begin can seem exhausting but once you understand how to get started you will never regret it.

But first a few myth busters:

1) Home Practice does not have to be hours long

2) Home practice does not have to be done alone (pets/kids are allowed)

3) Home practice does not look the same as it does in a studio

Now that our myths have been busted, lets move on to the good stuff!

When you decide to take on a yoga practice you figure out quickly that once a week is not nearly enough to sustain wellness. Yoga is like dance, you can’t just do it an hour a week and expect to be amazing! You really have to commit a bit more time during the week to really feel like you are getting the benefits. No matter what you practice for, it is not sufficient to your progression or your mental stability to only practice once a week! So here are a few mindful tips to get started on your journey past the studio.

1) Set a time based on your schedule.

You can chose between 15-45 minutes daily for your practice, and it doesn’t always have to be the same amount of time each day. When I practice it could be 20 min one day and 45min the next, and so on. It depends on what I have going on and how loud or in my face my puppies decide to be! If you have children this too will determine how long you practice. Whatever the time might be, don’t be frustrated about it, the last thing you want to do is yoga while frustrated! Instead, allow yourself to be flexible and enjoy your allocated time to yourself.

2) Pick a spot that is the least interrupted.

This might mean the living room is out of bounds! It might also mean you will be practicing in a smaller part of the house or outdoors. Personally I get very distracted practicing asana outside but love to sit in silence or savasana outdoors, so you need to know what will be more conducive mentally to what you wish to gain. If you are going for a restorative practice then you definitely don’t want to pick a time when everyone is home! If you are practicing and loud noises are bothering you try putting on music to drown it out, or better yet learn to be accepting of it and transform your practice to one of equanimity. For a long time my dogs bothered me to the point of absolute irritation! Then one day I learned that I needed to be more accepting of them and now include them in my practice. Now, ironically enough, they nap next to my mat when they see me on it and only occasionally join me!

3) Make it as calm a setting as possible

If you like candles, light some. If you have an altar, put it in front of your mat. If you need soothing music, turn it on. I often light my dry sage or palo santo and wave it around the space as a sign that my practice is beginning, its in ritual to clear the air of any negativity or loudness that I might feel is hanging around. This doesn’t mean it will always be calm at all! It means the intention is there to set aside a space that is as tranquil as possible. In the times when I am feeling emotional I allow myself to feel like its a safe enough place to cry or laugh or be silly. That wouldn’t be possible though if I felt like I hadn’t initiated that to be the case in the first place. Your mat alone should bring a sense of calm mentally and then you adjust your surroundings to match what is already inside.

4) Plan your asanas or wing it!

You can deliberately pick what you want to practice or do whatever comes to your head at the moment. I don’t personally have a preference, sometimes one method works better than the other. Sometimes you can plan and then change your mind depending on how the body is reacting. The beauty of home practice is that no one is there to tell you what to do! However you do need to pick things that you are able to accomplish without injury. For example if you have never done a headstand or shoulder stand with proper alignment instruction, your house is not the place to start! Only do a practice you feel 100% secure about and can safely accomplish. If you find yourself really wanting to practice something in particular that you don’t know how to do then pull up a video tutorial on youtube or another service and have yourself a guided practice. I sometimes use YogaGlo for their experienced teachers, and meditation and philosophy options as well.

5) Always start and end in meditation

Yoga is not yoga without Yoga! What I mean is if you are not practicing mindfully and meditatively then it is not a yoga practice, it is a workout. Even if the practice time itself is short, always allow at least 2 min of reflection and intention before and after. Thats only 4 min, even the busiest person has 4 min to spare! I often meditate for 5-10min at the beginning and 15min at the end. This I find works for me, but for you it might be the opposite, shorter or longer. Whatever the case, don’t sell your practice short by skipping the most important part. Yoga is a meditation, anything other than that is a poor translation 😉

I hope this helps to open the door to your daily practice. Remember it is totally yours and is as diverse as the flowers in a shop! Do it with the intent to be more mindful, less irritated, and more open hearted. Happy practicing!

photo 4-12

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