Creating and maintaining a home yoga practice is hard. I own a yoga studio and am a yoga instructor and of all the things I have done, I would say this is the hardest.
Yep, I’ve said it.
Maintaining a home yoga practice is harder than the floor you have face-planted on over and over trying to nail Pincha Mayurasana.
Well, I get it. This post is going to be a little glimpse into my journey to create a successful home yoga practice and some tips or thoughts that have helped me along the way. I don’t have it all figured out. I don’t have a list of postures that you must do in order to succeed. I don’t have the perfect sequence. I don’t have “the secret”, but I am always trying to better this area of my training and my hope is that somewhere, maybe someone will take what I say and make it better for him or her!
So…here it goes.
- Create a regular space to practice. Since being away from my home, I have chosen a specific place in the living room of our temporary residence to be the permanent spot for my yoga mat. It’s next to a window with natural light, away from the “food area” and the “TV area”. It is my yoga area. My mat never leaves. When I’m at home, it’s the same way. I typically leave one mat at the studio and have another one that stays in my bedroom. I think that this is important. Find a space and make it a ‘sacred’ space. Bring a candle, a devotional, journal, crystals, malas, whatever you need to become completely present in that space. Turn it into the spot that you go to escape your craziness for a small amount of time each day. Since doing this, every time I even so much as glance in my mat’s direction, I crave it. I crave to move, stretch, sweat, and ground myself! This is the feeling you should get…so create it!
- Make the time. It’s easy to put my yoga time aside. I have school, businesses, blogging, cleaning, and any other random thing. These things that I could do anytime, seem to surface as extra important the exact moment I should be on my mat. MAKE. THE. TIME. We seem to make time for TV or shopping, which is not a terrible thing, but our yoga practice and health should surpass all of those. This is our health we’re talking about! If we don’t take care of ourselves, we are of no service to others. Plus, let’s just face the facts, without at least a little yoga every day, we go crazy and most likely drive other people crazy. 😉 So, do it. A little tip for this that I have been trying out lately is set a timer. I know that some of us don’t like to put a time limit on our practice, and honestly I don’t like to either, but hear me out. If I set my timer for 1 hour, and shut my phone off, like completely off, that next hour seems to become that much more justified in my mind. So, turn on some music that inspires, set a timer, shut the phone off and get on your mat!
- I love music. I’m that girl that knows all the songs after one listen and loves to sing/hum/dance along even if I don’t know all the words verbatim. Just ask my husband…..Anyways, because of this wonderful trait, I tend to stick to strictly acoustic music, with no words. This prevents me from starting to sing along and keeps my intention on my health of body and mind. It also helps to keep my focus and attention on my practice instead of wandering to “I love this song! I should buy it.” I love the ‘Calm Meditation’, ‘Acoustic Guitar’, and ‘The Piano Guys’ radio on Pandora. They are a beautiful mix of relaxing and upbeat songs that inspire for wonderful moves on the mat.
- Final thing…have fun with it! The biggest challenge I have is listening to my body and letting the movements flow. Don’t get me wrong, there are benefits to having a sequence of postures that the body works through to get warmed up, and I do them, but after that, I just have fun. If my hips are tight, I focus on them. Shoulders? Ok, I’ll focus on them today. I do have a tendency to shy away from backbends because of fear, so I always throw those in. Every. Single. Time. They don’t have to be dramatic, but I always work on strengthening and stretching my back. Maybe you have an ‘Achilles heel’? The point is, there are always going to be postures you feel you should be doing or achieving because someone you know can do it perfectly, or that ‘one person on Instagram’ is perfectly bendy and tone. But, that’s not the purpose of yoga. Yoga, especially YOUR yoga practice is completely and totally about YOU. So, let it be.
I’m including a mini sequence that I work through at the beginning of each practice. This helps to get my body warmed up in every area. Then I feel like I can move and bend to really play around or focus on that challenging posture. Unless specified in the sequence, hold the postures anywhere from 5-10 breaths. Enjoy!
Seated Meditation: 8-10 min
Seated Side Stretch -> Right Side/Left Side: Each side 8-10 breaths
Seated Cat/Cow Breath
Boat Pose Crunches: 10 times
Downward-Facing Dog (Stretch/Walk out your heels feeling hamstring stretch)
Surya Namaskar A (Sun Salutation A): 5 times
Walk to the top of mat-dangle in rag doll
Extended Triangle -> Side Angle -> Half-Bind or Full Bind: Right Leg
Wide-Legged Forward Fold -> Add in Shoulder rinse
Extended Triangle -> Side Angle -> Half-Bind or Full Bind: Left Leg
Sun Salutation A: 1 time
Dancing Warrior (1,2,Reverse) – Right Leg/Left Leg: 2 times each side
Bhujangasana (Cobra): 2 times
Salabhasana (Half-Locust): 2 times
Poorna Salabhasana (Full Locust): 2 times
Dhanurasana (Floor Bow): 2 Times
Ustrasana (Camel): 2 Times
Bridge -> Full Wheel: 2 Times
Lay on back -> Pull knees to chest
Happy Baby -> Savasana
Do this entire sequence as a workout on its own, or use it as a warm-up for your entire body before moving on to more advanced postures. Remember to always be aware of how your body is feeling. Recognize the difference between pain and growth in a posture.
I know that it’s easy to get caught up on little details like a space, music, sequences, and time. My hope is that you’ll practice these few tiny steps and continue on this beautiful journey of yoga and continue to CREATE and MAINTAIN a home yoga practice with me.