It took years for me to feel motivated and confident enough to practice yoga at home.
I remember getting on my mat, practicing a few postures, but then feeling stumped…that ”okay, what now?” feeling. I didn’t feel like I knew enough about alignment or sequencing to go it alone. So I kept going to classes, learning more, and falling in love with this powerful practice.
Eventually I DID feel confident about my knowledge of physical postures, yet I unearthed another barrier: straight up lack of MOTIVATION.
One thing I really appreciate about going to a yoga class: Somebody else tells me what to do for 90 minutes! Hallelujah, no decision fatigue, I just get to follow along, occasionally modifying to suit my body and energy level.
At home, however, I had to contend not only with the nuts and bolts of planning my own practice and actually doing it...But also with all the other distractions of home life (laundry, computer screens, text messages, my partner, pets, the endless to-do list!).
ver the years, I’ve learned some useful tricks for committing to a home yoga practice. I’ll be sharing 3 crucial aspects of a committed home practice over the next 3 weeks, breaking it down with the topics of Space, Sequencing, and Staying the Course.
I also created a FREE Yoga @ Home Practice Guide PDF to help you on your way. It includes worksheets for you to plan your practice, tips and reminders, and two bonus sequences to get you started. Get your free Guide here.
Now for Week One's Discussion...SPACE.
Sometimes it’s difficult just to create the actual physical space to practice.
My advice: do the best you can to create a clean, clear practice space AND don’t let an “imperfect” space be a barrier to practicing. In other words, work with what you got.
Sometimes that imposing piece of furniture or too-close wall can even be used as a prop! Even if it’s not perfect, making a special little spot to begin cultivating your home practice will help build resolve and continuity.
It's like establishing a path through the woods over time by walking in the same area: "Oh yeah, this is where I practice yoga."
This can also be a great way to explore the philosophy of yoga, particularly the Niyamas of Saucha (cleanliness and order) and Santosha (contentment).
When our physical spaces are clean and orderly, it helps make internal space for contemplation and peace. As a counterbalance, we can also cultivate a sense of contentment with what we have and the present circumstances we’re in, without wishing things were different or "better".
For many of us busy folks, if it’s not scheduled, it’s not gonna happen. So, schedule in yoga practice, just like you would any important appointment!
You don’t need to commit to practicing at the same time every day, or even practicing every single day--it’s much more valuable to do what’s reasonable and sustainable than to set yourself up for failure by taking too much on.
As a yoga teacher, my schedule is totally unconventional, so my practice schedule is also. For instance, I teach at 7am two days a week. I don’t practice in the mornings those days. Instead, I fit in a short practice midday. On days when I teach in the evenings, I always try to do a few restorative postures and pranayama before getting into bed.
Find the balance point between stretching a bit to establish this healthy habit while also making it work for your specific life circumstances. Small incremental change will build healthier habits over time than trying to make huge shifts all at once (research keeps confirming this!).
Creating sacred space doesn’t have to be elaborate, but sometimes it can feel daunting to shift the energy of your home space.
A note about sound: Most of us are inundated with sounds all the time. If you can find some quiet moments in your house, I highly recommend you soak them up and revel in that spaciousness.
If not, playing music that is soothing or shifts your mood can also be effective. I have a student who often uses the same playlist for home practice so he can judge when it’s time to start heading toward savasana by what song is playing.
Chanting to begin and end your practice is another way to bring in the sacred with sound--think of it as energetically “dusting” the space with the vibrations of your voice.
The most important aspect of creating sacred space is simply your intention.
A prayer, a deep breath--this can be enough to shift your awareness. Another simple ritual is to light a candle for the duration of your practice. Or you may have an altar of objects, photos, and mementos that represent the sacred to you.
In the end it’s not about what you do, but how you do it. Again, if this feels daunting, don't let it stop you from practicing. Jump on your mat and begin. Sometimes what creates a feeling or shift into sacred space IS THE PRACTICE ITSELF. How beautiful.
Okay, next week I'll get into the specifics of creating yoga sequences to support your home practice. Until then, get started by downloading my free Yoga @ Home Guide for more info, worksheets, and sequences. It's an awesome resource to get you going.
Big love and happy practice,