A home practice is a great accompaniment to your studio practice. It helps you to learn the sequence a little bit better (if you are doing a set sequence like Ashtanga Primary). It helps you to learn yourself a little bit better and to discover a stronger sense of self awareness-it opens up the possibility for you to lead yourself, not just to listen to your teacher. It opens up the possibility of mistakes and your learning from them. It also helps your yoga practice to become more a part of your daily life as opposed to that class you go to every Wednesday evening for an hour. The more practice you do at home, the smaller that separation between your daily life and yoga becomes smaller and smaller, until you a practicing without even thinking about it!
‘Fantastic!’, you say. Amazing, I want to start NOW! But, I need to do the dishes, fold the clothes, cook dinner, vacuum…there are a million excuses one can come up with to not take care of ‘YOU’. And that is the most important in all of this-taking care of you. If you aren’t taken care of you can’t be a good wife, mother, partner, sister, daughter. (Or the male counterpart).
How the heck do I start creating this amazing at home practice??? It is as easy as a few steps:
Setting Up Your Space
- Set up a designated area and time for your practice. This helps to get into a routine. Make sure the space is optimal for you. Is it tidy? Is it the right temperature? Is the sunlight ample enough? If you live with someone, perhaps practice at a time when you are alone for the duration. Decorate your space how you’d like it-placing sacred images around you, flowers, statues, and anything else that you associate with your practice. I have my home mat rolled out next to my alter with flowers, stones, and Buddha on it.
- Before starting, turn off all phones, televisions, beepers, buzzers, children, anything distracting as possible-try to recreate the inaccessibility you would have if you were in a yoga class. *Tip for yogi mamas-if you don’t have the funds for a babysitter (and let’s be honest, not many of us do!), find a fellow yogi mama and swap babysitting services a few times a week.
- Choose a time and day and stick to it. You wouldn’t walk in to your studio class 20 minutes late? Don’t sell yourself short by cutting out your own practice time.
- This depends largely on your experience. I always suggest that my students either use YouTube or Ekhart Yoga. Online resources are invaluable to yogis of any level.
- If you can afford to attend classes weekly, do that. If not, look at private instruction once a month. Explain that you are looking to create a home practice. Any teacher would be honoured to go on that journey with you and help nourish your desire.
- Decide on the length of your practice. If you are a clock watcher, perhaps set a timer for 5 minutes before your desired finish time. This way you get a good 5 minute relaxation.
- Get still. Sit on your mat and focus in on your breathing. On your inhales and exhales. Try to keep them steady and even-breathe in for a count of 5 and breathe out for a count of 5. Fill your heart with gratitude. Remember, you are magical, free, and wise. Create a Sankalpa if you’d like. This is a positive affirmation that is said in the present tense. Say it 3 times to yourself. Example: “I am free”
- Start to move-Sun Salutes are a great way to do this. Typically, 3-5 Sun Salute A’s and 3 Sun Salute B’s, but do what your body feels like it needs/ More or less is fine.
- Challenge yourself. If you are practicing Ashtanga, you will already have a set sequence in mind. If you are following an online tutorial, you don’t have to think about it too much. If you are experimenting, play around with postures you aren’t comfortable with. This is the best way to get comfortable with them.
- Savasana. Don’t skip this-you deserve this time of rest and relaxation. I always like to have music playing softly in the background (a 5 minute or slightly less is perfect). I focus on my breath again, just like in the beginning. I will repeat my Sankalpa (mantra) three times if I created one at the beginning of the practice. I will just succumb to my body melting into the floor and truly relaxing for 5 minutes.
- Give thanks. I always end my practice with my hands in prayer, saying ‘Namaste’
As we develop our home practice, we begin to know and trust ourselves in a different and profound way. We can laugh at ourselves gently when we fall; give ourselves a little nudge when we realize we are resisting a pose. We come to treasure and look forward to this time as the time when we are at our most authentic and empowered.
There is always a place for skilled instruction. A home practice does not take that away and does not have to replace it. It does, however, give the practitioner a chance to become a more well rounded, grounded yogi.
The most important aspect, however, is the chance to truly discover yourself, to turn over the darkest parts of our soul and emerge from the other side a stronger person. A person who knows what’s hiding underneath their soul and how to find it. A person who knows his/her place, rhythm, and spirit. You become a person who has abundant gratitude for the life they lead.
I have just been contacted by Ekhart Yoga Online informing me that they have a signup special going on until May 6th!!! If you sign up before that date, you will get a whopping 75% off your first months subscription! All you need to do is use the following discount code and your in! The code is BATQTOP. Read more about it here. How can you go wrong?