Each yoga student probably has a broad spectrum of emotions when it comes to “Home Practice”. It varies from interest and excitement to guilt and even fear. But if you type “practicing yoga at home” in the google search bar, you will probably find tones of articles on “ease and beauty” of home practice but only few on “potential problems” and even fewer on how to solve them.
The truth is, to make home practice easy you have to work damn hard. But writing about hard work doesn’t make one hugely popular. Recently, one student of mine told me the he is starting to develop home practice. That’s when I got an idea to write down how my relationships with home practice developed over time. To make it easier to read and use, I will split the topic into several parts. This one will be dedicated to the complications you might face while developing your home practice and how to overcome them.
However, at this blog post you will not find a “magic pill” on how to make yoga at home enjoyable instantly. Instead, I will share with you tools which are working for me. Things which helped me to move from sad and confusing home practices to grounded and in some way enjoyable.
I will start from describing shortly my practice. It will make it easier for you to understand where my experience comes from and how my advices could be helpful in your case.
I am practicing Ashtanga yoga. It means that 6 days per week I have to unroll my mat and do a part of the sequence currently assigned to me by my teacher. Usually, 5 days per week I go to practice in the studio under the thoughtful guidance of my teacher. The 6th day is Sunday and often I dedicate it to home practice. I also love to travel a lot and try to escape the city at least for a weekend once per month. It means that I have in average 2-3 practices to do outside of both my home and my studi
My first attempts of home practice could be described in three words - painful, confusing and depressing. Now I can say that I am quite looking forward to it and observe with excitement whatever it brings up.
Analysing my own experience, I highlighted 4 main blocks which you might consider to make your home practice as resultful and peaceful as possible.
Spend 15-20 min before practice doing something what inspires and cheers you up. It's called purposeful procrastination and it works.
Make a cup of your favourite morning drink - tea, coffee, water with lemon - cucumber - berries etc. Use a "special occasion" mug or even buy yourself a special before-yoga-drink cup.
Spend a bit of time on social media. I love to scroll through Instagram or Pinterest but choose the one which boost you up. Your favourite magazine or exciting book can serve the same purpose.
Treat yourself with a teaspoon of honey if you feel particularly low or a square of high quality dark chocolate.
You got an idea, do something you really enjoy but not longer than 20 min.
Think about the place at home where you feel the best. Go and put your mat there. If it feels good, practice next to the fridge - no problem. Your practice - your rules.
Use a high quality yoga mat. Believe me it impacts not only physical part of your practice but emotional too. If you are not sure which mat to choose, check a post on My Yoga Mats.
Yoga practice often brings out uncomfortable thoughts and memories.
Light up candles, use incense, place flower pots in sight. These simple things make us feel more protected and relaxed.
3. Imagine vividly how will it feel if you don’t practice...
... and practice.
You don't have to do the whole sequence. But the fact that you did unroll your mat will make you feel much better. And who knows, once you've started maybe you will finish it all.
Quite often it will be physically harder to get into posture at home than in the studio. You might not even manage some of the postures at the beginning. Both beginners and advanced practitioners experience it from time to time. Get comfortable with this fact and “forgive yourself” from the very beginning. I found two main reasons of why are we stiffer while practicing at home:
You are not warmed up enough.
In the yoga studio you have to follow teacher’s count. You also know that someone is always watching and it motivates to do your best. At home you tend to rush through especially in case of postures which you find too hard or too easy (boring).
Try to spend longer in the standing sequence (ashtanga yoga) or first 5-6 asanas. Work on your breath, don't exaggerate it and try to equalise inhale with exhale. It will make your body ready to the more complicated stuff to come.
Mind is playing tricks with you.
When you practice among others, there is always something to blame for disturbing your practice.
Incense smell horrible, it's cold, people are breathing too loud, it's hot, teacher is talking too much, you don't like your space. This is to name a few.
Home practice eliminates all these factors. But annoyance often stays. Realisation that its reason lies within you rather then the world around is tough. But it promotes the inner work and that's when the real yoga happens.
These are the main things which were extremely hard for me to address when I started to practice at home. Did you experience anything of it? let me know in the comments below.
In the next part I will share my favourite internet resources for home practitioners. Stay tuned.