5 foolproof tips for starting a home Yoga practice
It’s the holy grail for Yoga lovers isn’t it? Bridging that gap between your weekly Yoga classes? Nailing that oft-repeated resolution to finally start practising at home?
Why is it so hard for so many of us? We KNOW our Yoga makes us feel good. We KNOW we want to do it. We KNOW it’ll help us in so many ways. And yet… It just somehow never happens.
Very often with aims like this, starting & maintaining a home Yoga practice, we unknowingly set ourselves up to fail. We feel like it has to be ‘all or nothing’; a full class-like practice; with perfect silence; with a special place just right for our home practice. At just the right time.
Some of these ideas seem like & actually can be good ideas. Unless they’re the very same ones that are holding us back!
Very often, I read well-meaning advice that we should have a ‘special’ place for our home Yoga practice; in fact, there’s lots of lovely ‘hygge’-like tips to set it up as a ‘sacred’ space with tokens & totems; our favourite shawl, blanket, blocks, straps, a stone Buddha - you get the picture. I must admit it sounds simply lovely. And it sure sounds like something out of a Vogue photo-shoot too!
How many of us have additional & unused space in our homes to set up such a space? Whether it’s kid-filled, book-filled, flat-mate-filled, home-office-filled or just plain life-filled, so many of our homes, even when clutter-free, are not spacious enough to grant us this extra Yoga ‘sanctuary’.
How about the ‘right time’ notion? Great & apt advice is often given to us to get our ‘stuff’ done in the morning so that the day doesn’t run away from us. So - get up at 6am & get that Yoga practice in! I do agree with this one in theory but much like the space point previously, our time first thing in the morning may not be ‘our own’. There might be a baby or kids to feed, a dog to walk, a long commute that’s only possible if it’s done pre-heavy traffic. Maybe the evening is the only time we can carve out some ‘me time’. And maybe it’s only 15 mins. So, we think - what's the point?
What CAN we do to make a home Yoga practice doable & doable more often?
Think 15 minutes, not an hour. That’s enough time for say:
1 minute lying in Savasana to focus on your breath; 2 minutes to warm-up in Cat-Cow & do some neck & shoulder rolls; 3 minutes to do some Sun Salutations; 3 minutes to do 3 Standing poses on L & R side, including a Balancing pose; 3 minutes to do a Forward Fold, a seated Twist & say Locust pose for your Back-Bend & then the final 3 minutes for a Massage of the Lower Back, a gentle Supine twist & the final minute or even 2 in closing Savasana. You can do the same sequence for a week or even a month & then vary the standing & seated poses the next week or month to keep your practice & body & mind fresh & interested.
2. Think Pyjamas.
Yes, really! Say you can practice first thing in the morning; then literally, roll out of bed, unroll your Yoga mat & do it right there & then. This is before your mind can start all its ‘oh but I’ll just shower, I’ll just get lunch packed, I’ll just make that call'. NO! Just roll outta the scratcher & start before the Monkey Mind begins its chatter.
Alternatively, do the same but in the evening. This could mean throwing on some sweats when you get in the door from work or later, when the kids are in bed, putting on those old Yoga pants that cannot be seen in public anymore but are perfect for home! Just ensure the practice is gentler, slower & not too ‘heart-pumping’ in the evening as you don’t want to get the heart or mind racing too close to bedtime.
3. Think Bedroom.
Related to the pyjamas point above, don’t pick a Yoga ‘spot’ in your home that’s going to mean having to shift furniture, move paperwork or any other barrier that your mind is going to naturally file in the ‘Too Hard, I’ll just watch Netflix” basket.
I keep my Yoga mat under my bed, not even fully rolled up but in a loose 3-way bend. It is a split second effort to reach under & lay it out. & I don’t have heaps of room beside my bed, maybe a few inches one side of the mat & even less on the other. I have to practice my Sun Salutations arms-forward, not wide & I have to get creative with my Supine twists. But I found practising in the living-room meant having to move at least two things & more importantly, I had to pass the kitchen where (as an Irish person) I couldn’t stop myself from putting the kettle on… You get the picture. Keep away from distractions & extra efforts.
4. Think Help.
If you find you can’t get a ‘flow’ together, that you can’t remember what kind of ‘way’ the poses nicely follow each other & feel ‘good’ then ask your Yoga teacher in class next time for a few pointers or go online. Really, do. Yes, ideally, we’d all be practising on a hilltop, with a mountain breeze blowing gently through our hair & a turtle dove fluttering around our head, far away from modernity & technology. Yes, unplugging can be one of the best things about Yoga, that removal from always being ‘available’ or online but again, if it's the difference between practicing or not, then find help online. There are so many great online Yoga resources now, with many short free sequences. Please bear in mind though that safety is key & you need to have learnt some good Yoga basics first, as taught in class, before attempting to follow anything shown online.
5. Think Kind.
Let’s drop the over-achieving aims & under-performing actuality. If we’re not doing ANY home practice at all right now, well then frankly, it’s a Lotto win to get to a place where we’re doing 15 minutes once a week. That can be built on; & it's a kinder way of approaching home practice;
breaking it down into doable, bite-sized & comfortable 'chunks'.
We ALL have 15 minutes somewhere in our schedule. Make a note on your mobile, your wall-chart or diary, wherever the best prompt is for YOU. Maybe even unroll the Yoga mat last thing before bed so that you have to walk on it when you get up! Ditto re. evening time; maybe come in home from work & unroll it as you get changed out of the work clothes. But please think kind baby-steps - no berating, no guilt, just a lil Yoga in a doable ‘everyday’ kind of way.
Climbing that mountaintop for that two-hour silent 'perfect' Yoga practice can wait…