How To Create a Home Yoga Practice

HomeYoga660For many people, it’s really hard to practice yoga at home.

I struggled with my home practice for years, even after I earned my teacher training certification in 2002, and especially after I had kids. Every time I got on my mat, I would remember the laundry that needed to be put in the dryer…and the snack I forgot to prepare for my kids…and the trash I should have taken out…and on and on.

I finally realized that staying on my mat is difficult by design. The poses aren’t the work in yoga. They might stretch and tone my muscles, but the real yoga happens when I arrive on my mat, and surrender to the experience.

If you think you might be ready to practice yoga at home, remember that you don’t necessarily need books, DVDs, or podcasts. All you need to practice yoga at home is a quiet space, a mat, your breath, and a willingness to listen to your body. You can add a little music, too, if you feel moved to do so.

Here’s an easy way to think about sequencing your practice:

1) Warm Up

Sun salutations are a great way to begin a home practice (I recommend starting with 3-5 rounds). Move through the first round slowly, holding each pose for several breaths. Add in some stretches as you see fit. For additional sun salutations, listen to your body, and decide whether it is best to transition between poses with every breath, or every few breaths. There are benefits to both applications (read more about that here). Remember to always keep your mouth closed, and breathe through your nose.

2) Build Strength and Awareness

Next, pick 3-5 standing poses, such as side angle pose, triangle pose, chair pose, or any others you remember from previous experiences. Hold each pose for 5-10 full breaths. Find your drishti (focused gaze in front of you, or looking up) in each pose, and hold steady. Practice each pose 2-3 times.

3) Balance

Afterward, challenge your balance in tree pose, and dancer pose for 10 breaths each. Again, focus on your drishti.

4) Stretch

Hip openers, such as pigeon pose, and backbends, such as bridge pose, are best saved for the end of practice. Hold each for at least twenty breaths (and don’t squeeze your butt).

5) Twist and Reconcile

Finally, it’s always best to finish with a twist and savasana.

This is an introductory approach to practicing at home, so of course you can substitute more challenging poses as you feel prepared. You can also add more sun salutations, to increase the intensity of the experience. As you grow in your home practice, you may also feel called to play with arm balances, inversions, and maybe even the poses on the cover of Yoga Journal magazine. Take your time easing into more challenging poses, and trust the process.

Before you know it, magic will happen, and you will look forward to your home practice more than you ever imagined.

Photo: http://www.mindbodygreen.com

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7 thoughts on “How To Create a Home Yoga Practice

  1. MK says:

    Since promising myself to do yoga every day, my home practice has become pretty much my only practice. I prefer to watch videos or listen to podcasts (yogadownload.com is awesome). When I follow my own practice I tend to stop after 20 minutes and I always skip balancing poses!

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    • Thanks, MK! A few thoughts about your response:

      1) Have you asked yourself why you skip balance poses? This kind of questioning helped me overcome a lot of barriers in my practice.

      2) Have you tried using music to keep you on your mat? This is what helped me the most in the beginning. I made playlist of songs that made me happy, and it kept me motivated to practice. If you don’t already have Spotify, I highly recommend it for playlists on the go.

      3) Have your tried meditating in the poses? I find that the more I meditate in each pose, the longer I can practice. I hold standing poses for 10-20 breaths, with focus on the breath and drishti. It builds a lot of strength, and gives me time to “drop in” with each pose.

      Good luck with your practice! ॐ

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  2. You have a very similar style/format as I. I’m YogaFit trained. Nice class suggestion. I guess, I would add that if one’s home allows, maybe create a yoga space or room. That may help tramendously towards having a successful practice. ~ Kristen

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