My personal yoga practice started as a home practice before I ever made my way into a class. It was at times tedious. I'll admit I had no clue what I was doing...but once I got into a groove my daily practice became the routine I looked forward to most. I will admit I experienced a lot of frustration, some boredom, and endless distractions but I also have experienced some amazing break-throughs, which for 7 years have kept my coming back to my mat. At 17 this was huge. Like anyone else at that age I was immature, insecure, unsure of who I was or what exactly my place was in the world. I was going through high school and experiencing everything that goes with it. I was by no means unhappy with myself or my life at the time but I was a little lost and felt like something was missing. When I finally came to my yoga practice it was like finding the missing piece of the puzzle; it was something I really loved and something I looked forward to every evening. After school I'd go for a run, babysit, and before bed I'd pick a sequence, or a few sequences from Tara Stiles' Slim, Calm, Sexy Yoga and practice anywhere from half an hour to two hours at a time in my bedroom. It sounds silly but it worked for me. I did this for months before I even stepped into a yoga class. And even then it was close to a year into my practice before I went to classes regularly.
Since then my home practice has evolved...A LOT. I practice anywhere from 10 min to an hour and a half, maybe 2 if I'm lucky. My yoga practice isn't simply asana (postures) anymore. It's asana, meditation, journaling (self reflection), studying, and teaching. And to this day I still look forward to my yoga practice, if it's my practice as a whole, or only a small piece of it. It's my daily ritual, my sacred time that I make for me, which is the greatest gift that I can give to myself each and everyday.
I truly believe everyone should spend a minimum of 10 minutes a day doing something they love. Whether it's painting, writing, running, whatever. Whether you've been praticing yoga for awhile or are completely new to yoga and would like to start from the comfort of your own home I've complied some tips and advice to help you start your own home practice into gear. You don't need props (they sometimes are helpful), a lot of space, or any expensive gear to start a home practice. All you need is some floor space and an open mind.
Set aside the time. First things first, make time for yourself and your practice. I find that The easiest way to get into a routine with meditating or practicing is to designate a small amount of time everyday, either first thing you get up or the morning or right before bed to practice. Or even if it means setting a reminder on your phone to practice yoga or meditate every day for a given amount of time, whatever it takes, you'll be happy you set aside the time to do something for yourself. Start small and slowly work to progress the time you spend practicing, whether it's meditating, asana practice, journaling, whatever.
Set aside the space. Grab a mat and clear some floor space for yourself. Ideally you're gonna wanna tidy up before you hit the mat. I know from experience that once I sit down to meditate or practice yoga my attention turns away from myself to everything that needs dusting or to be put away. Do your best to make the space in which you choose to practice distraction free. While distractions are inevitable do your very best to minimize them. Turn your cellphone to silent and unplug completely, even if it's just for 10 minutes at a time.
Set the mood. Seriously. Light a candle, dim the lights, whatever makes your practice space cozy and comfortable. Maybe even play some nice music to go along with your yoga practice. If you're not a fan of the cold and have a space heater crank it up. I have a client I work with in the comfort of his home and he sets up two space heaters so we can practice "hot" yoga. In my personal practice I usually light a candle for evening practice and always practice with my IKEA flower lights on. It sounds silly but it's how I separate my yoga practice from everything else. As you can see from the above photos I practice in my bedroom between my desk and my bed. My bed is for rest, my desk is for work, and the space in between (literally) is for me and my yoga practice. Your set up and space is unique to you and your preferences. Know that setting aside the space and setting the mood is what will help you to distinguish your home yoga practice from the rest of your day. It will set it apart and make the time on your mat special and sacred to you. Your Jon yoga practice will feel a lot more like a haven, an escape, or a break from your day, rather than a chore.
Keep it simple. If you're just starting a home practice keep it simple. You don't necessarily need to know how to sequence a complicated 90 min vinyasa flow with handstands and challenging postures. Start off with some simple poses to warm the body up like child's pose or cat cow. Then move on to some sun salutations, and maybe a couple of standing postures like Warrior 1 or 2 or Crescent lunge. Try a balancing posture, and then cool down with a few stretches with longer holds like pigeon or spinal twists. End your practice with a short savasana; and there you have it! A 15 to 30 minute practice at your fingertips. If that doesn't seem so simple or you're not familiar with sun salutations or the poses, no need to fear. There is no right or wrong when it comes to yoga and you don't always need to practice with a plan. Just getting to your mat for a minimum of 10 minutes everyday is maintaining a home practice, even if all you do is a little bit of down dog and a couple of stretches, or if all you do is lay there and breathe! Something is better than nothing.
It's okay to get a little bit a help. A home practice doesn't necessarily mean you have to practice at home all alone all the time! Make sure you switch things up when you get bored. Recruit a friend or family member to practice yoga with you once or twice a week outside the studio space. It will hold you accountable to your yoga practice and it will be a nice way to spend time with your loved ones. Also, don't be afraid to use the help of technology...the internet is filled with yoga videos. If you're feeling less-than creative, or suffering a lack of motivation, look up a Youtube video and get practicing. The are also endless apps both free and some that come at a small cost that offer recorded yoga practices, and also both guided and silent meditations. These are great options especially if you're feeling uninspired and/or short on time.
Remember your home practice does not need to be advanced, or complicated, or anything close to perfect. You'll have good days and bad. You'll experience your fair share of distractions, frustrations and break throughs. They're all apart of the process. The most important thing is that you take the time to make it to your mat. The more times you get to your mat the easier it'll be to spend more time on it, and the easier your practice will come to you.