Doing a little bit of yoga often can make a huge difference to you. It doesn't take a lot to start a home yoga practice but it does take discipline. You just need a small space and a little bit of time. Just 5 minutes a day will make a big difference.
As a yoga teacher who makes their living from teaching yoga in a yoga studio, why am I encouraging you to practice at home? Well because it will help your practice and make you feel great - and I want you to feel great, simple as that! Home practice is different to coming to a studio and being with others, the sense of community and the environment to learn, and I still recommend you come to a class each week for so many reasons. But inbetween try some yoga at home too. So here I'm sharing some advice on ways to start practicing a little yoga at home. Try it out for a week and see how you feel.
1. Get into the habit
Whether you are a beginner to yoga or a weathered student, starting a yoga practice at home can be challenging. There are many distractions and a whole list of things to do. If you're anything like me, you'll come up with excuses why you can't do the practice. Believe me, the mind will throw up some very good 'stories' to keep you off the mat. Yogi's believe it's the ego feeling threatened. Be persistent.
Create some discipline at the beginning to get on your mat every day and you'll notice how quickly it becomes an easy part of your routine. Take note of how you feel on the days you do it. That should inspire you to do it more frequently, I hope.
2. Set yourself up for success
First things first, don't set yourself unrealistic expectations. Some days you are going to have time to do one pose, others you might find yourself being able to practice for a really long time.
Whatever it is, just get into the habit. Carve out 5 minutes each morning (yes, before you get distracted by everything else). Do a few rounds of slow, steady sun salutations.
That's all, just get into the habit of coming to your mat and marking out a part of your day for yoga.
I know that you might be saying 'but I've got kids' or 'I don't have enough time' but everyone can find 5 minutes. Plus, its going to make you feel a whole lot better. Think of this as your cleansing practices for the build up of stress in every day life.
3. Make space
Dedicate a space in your home that you can use for your practice, don't worry if it has other uses. Not all of us have the luxury of spare rooms for yoga so just make sure there is enough space for the mat.
In a bedroom will do, hallway, living room, kitchen, garden. Anywhere will do. Just as long as the mat or towel can be laid out flat.
Roll it out the night before so you're ready to step onto it as soon as you wake up. No mat, no problem, just choose a spot and go directly there when you wake up.
I find that if I roll my mat out the night before its much easier to hop onto the mat first thing and enjoy greeting my breath and day with some practice. Remember start with 5 minutes. That's all. Every day. Remember, this is going to do you the world of good and everyone else around you so its worth it.
4. Setting up an altar
This is not a prerequisite to starting your home practice but since I've set one up I feel so inspired by it. Make it personal. On it place things that you love and inspire you. It can include pictures of people you love, flowers, candles, aromatherapy oils. Set your altar up in the corner of a room or near where your yoga space is. You can create some wonderful rituals around this. More on that in another post.
5. How long?
I've suggested 5 minutes if you're just starting out. By all means do more. If you're a more seasoned practitioner in the classroom, I'd recommend setting yourself a 20 minute practice.
You are bound to come up against resistance but KEEP GOING, this is where you make breakthroughs in your practice and in your life. When you don't feel like it then just go and sit on your mat for those chosen minutes, this is precious YOU time or lie in savasana or start with one of your favourite poses and see where it takes you. I find that if I don't THINK about it and just get on the mat it all flows effortlessly.
If you're really coming up against resistance, change your mindset. Why not change your approach to how you practice, maybe make it more of a ritual and make a lovely cup of herbal tea, light your candles, write in your journal, pick an inspiration card. Whatever it takes to get your interest going and for you to enjoy it. This is your time, enjoy it, savour it, its precious.
The mind and your life will come up with lots of distractions and excuses, the challenging part is overcoming the mind chatter and committing to yourself and your practice. You'll notice a difference in how you deal with your life once you start committing to your yoga.
7. What do I do?
I remember when I first started I got all tied up in what sequence to do, how long and so on. I suggest to have some fun with it.
Pick a couple of poses you love (I recommend breathwork first and warming up with gentle opening seated practices) and a couple of poses you find more challenging.
See if you can approach the challenging ones with the mindset of 'how can I enjoy this more', see what adjustments you can make, minor or major, to make it more enjoyable to stay in and breathe in it. Enjoy curiosity and playfulness in your home practice.
Always finish with relaxation (savasana), a chance for your body, mind and soul to calibrate all you've done.
This is one of the many joys of a home practice, you can really start to shape the way you approach your yoga.
8. What does my daily practice look like?
My daily practice varies but to give you an idea of what I do – if I have time on my side then I'll light my candle, make a tea, sit on my mat and write in my gratitude journal or maybe just write down how I'm feeling that day, my intention for the practice etc.
Then I sit on my mat and close my eyes to still the mind and focus on my breath. At this point my dog usually bounds in... then when I feel connected to my breath I doing some seated side stretches, forwards folds and lengthening, then move into all fours and do cat- cow pose warming up the spine and linking the breath with movement. And then I let my intuition take over, sometimes I want to focus on core work to play with some balances, maybe some sun salutations and variations, or I might take a slower softer approach just to warm up the body or I will just sit doing breath work, particularly when I'm feeling stressed or extremely tired.
If I don't have time on my side I will connect to the breath and then do a few rounds of sun salutes, a couple of standing poses, some seated forward folds and then relaxation. Or just be in a restorative shape for 10 minutes and so some breathing and meditation. I do what I FEEL I need in that moment.
I have a couple of videos you could try over on my YouTube channel - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRKPlMKRKU3vOi6yIB831hQ
9. If at first you don't succeed
I'd say the biggest challenge is discipline so don't be disheartened and cross with yourself if you skip a day (or week), just get back on the mat.
Whatever it is, your practice is personal to you, enjoy it and savour the time out for yourself each and every day. There are no right and wrongs in how you do your yoga practice, just be safe and when questions arise, note them down and ask your teacher or go online to find the answers.
Good luck and let me know how you get on. I'm always here for questions.