How to Develop a Home Yoga Practice
...And why you should have one in the first place.
I hear it all the time: "I wish I could start a home yoga practice, but I just don't know how." I completely understand that feeling; even as a studio practitioner, before I started my own home practice, the idea seemed totally foreign and unattainable to me. However, I worked my way through the kinks and with consistency and commitment to my cause, I slowly developed a private yoga practice that changed my life in more ways than I had imagined it could. Having your own space and time to explore your practice and yourself is an incredible tool for self discovery, but also creates a sort of sanctuary or safe place to decompress when life gets crazy.
Before I go on, I should make the disclaimer that I'm not trashing studio or group yoga practice whatsoever; there are things you can get from that approach (the community vibe and lifelong friendships, hands-on adjustments and verbal corrections from a professional teacher, the ease of having someone else direct the sequence) that solo practice can't give you. Ideally, it's wonderful to have both options, but for some of us, a studio practice simply isn't available.
So, on that note, where do you begin? Once you've determined that you'd like to try a home yoga practice, the next question is always how, exactly, to get started.
| COMMITMENT |
This one is at the top of the list for a good reason: you won't be successful in maintaining a home yoga practice if you don't instil in yourself an unwavering sense of commitment to your cause. Once you've determined that you want it, ask yourself why, and really listen to that response. When you get on your mat, remind yourself of that commitment and intention, every time. (*Be sure to keep it positive; don't motivate yourself with negatives or by highlighting your perceived shortcomings. Instead of saying to yourself, "I'm doing this because I hate my body", try saying "I'm doing this so I can love my body the way it deserves.")
| SPACE |
This is an important consideration, but you don't need a huge space for a yoga practice. You need enough room to move freely on a yoga mat (which we will get to shortly!) , or if you don't have/aren't using a mat, just ensure you're on a comfortable, sturdy surface. Your yoga space should be limited to only that - if possible, try to keep the mat always rolled out, inviting you for a practice whenever you're ready.
| TIME |
This is, by far, the biggest complaint I hear in regard to home practice. The truth is, almost all of us feel busy and pressured by other obligations and responsibilities in our lives, and for most, it can be very challenging to find the time to commit to a home yoga practice, or any fitness routine, for that matter. You have to make time for your yoga practice, just like you make time for your job, your kids, your partner, your team, etc. Decide that this is essential self care and your practice is mandatory, whenever it's booked. On that note, if you struggle to consistently make time for your practice, start actually scheduling it in your calendar. Set a reminder on your phone, if that works for you, or use a big wall or table calendar that's difficult to ignore.
| EQUIPMENT |
Most people like using a yoga mat to cushion the joints for floor postures and to provide extra grip underfoot for standing postures. There are a lot of options out there, and the thickness and design just depends on what you're looking for. Thicker mats provide more support but sometimes less stability than their thinner counterparts (often travel mats or lightweight versions). If you're practising on carpeted floor, you might prefer to use a yoga towel instead. You don't have to spring for a super pricey one, either: there are some awesome towels in the $25 range that work just as well. I like the no-slip Gaiam towel, because it sort of sticks to the carpet and doesn't move around too terribly during standing sequences. You don't necessarily need other yoga props for your practice, but they're nice to have around, especially for beginners who might need to modify postures for a while. The best, most versatile options are foam blocks and yoga straps, which can be used for a variety of modifications and also to advance certain poses, and best of all, won't break the bank! Instead of buying pricey yoga bolsters, I use various pillows from around the house. Mirrors are a HUGE advantage for checking your form and alignment, but if you don't have them, you'll just have to develop a deeper connection to your physical body. ;)
| DESIGNING A PROGRAM |
Now that you're all set up, what do you do?! This is certainly the biggest hurdle for most, as people without any yoga experience generally aren't sure what they're supposed to be doing. Fortunately, there are now a ton of options on the internet for online yoga classes, some of them totally free. If you're not ready to invest in a yoga plan on a platform like Cody, try browsing YouTube for class-length yoga videos by professional yogis. If you still feel like you're lacking direction or simply need the assistance of a teacher, seek out a professionally trained and certified instructor whose values and style appear to align with your own, and discuss working on a plan together that will enable you to continue a safe and effective home yoga practice.
For my private yoga clients who are interested in developing their own home practice in addition to their sessions with me, I design sequences around their particular needs and unique circumstances to create a plan that will help them reach their goals. I provide them with reference materials to stay on track while they practice at home, which are complete with posture name and instructions/tips along with an image of the pose. Most of my clients express to me the immense benefit they get from one-on-one instruction, and while this is an ideal approach, it is still possible to develop a very successful home practice with little direction. My private yoga schedule is currently full. However, if you're interested in starting private yoga lessons when time becomes available, please contact me to be added to the waiting list.
Enjoy your yoga journey! Remember that we all have to start somewhere, and practice makes progress.
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