Everyone who does yoga can benefit from a home practice. There is something wonderful about moving through space in your own space. Be it mental space. Emotional space. Or physical space.
Have you noticed how the light bathes a room in the morning? Or how serene it is?
What a great way to start the day – with yoga at home.
What is a Home Practice
With so many distractions, work deadlines, and other demands, sitting down for even a few minutes for many people is no small task. We may find scheduling a regular yoga class challenging, finding the self-discipline to show up on the mat is a whole different level. Because a home practice is on our schedule, there goes the excuse of not doing a class because it conflicts with another appointment. Or “oops, I slept in”.
Whether we keep our promises to ourselves reflects and illuminates our self-esteem and the untruths we tell ourselves. Meeting this resistance is a discomfort and a treasured lesson nonetheless.
In my own practice, it’s finding the authentic human expression and learning to do things my own way.
Leah Kim, Nike Global Yoga Ambassador and Spokesperson
A home practice is a space you create for yourself, to show up as you are. Taking a yoga class is a wonderful way to learn from different teachers and to connect with other people and the yoga community. Following a teacher, however, is not the free practice that makes a home practice exactly what we need. In a class, someone else has put together the sequencing, the music, and the flow. In a home practice, that someone is you. That means listening to yourself in a deeper way, a skill, a discipline, and a practice we can all benefit from. This listening on the mat reinforces the same off the mat, out in the world.
In a home practice, we decide how we want to spend it and for how long. It is not only an hour-long hatha class or 90 minutes of yin yoga. We show up, and we allow it to unfold, with no expectations and no judgment. Yoga is about being gentle with ourselves, getting to know and accept who we are.
Perhaps we want to open up our hips, sink more deeply into our child’s pose, surrender more completely in savasana. We can do a whole practice of just one asana – that’s not a conventional class you get in a studio!
In our own private space, we can allow the vulnerable to step through that may not feel as safe in a public class. The releases that can come from heart-opening poses, for example, appear in all forms. Being home physically may be easier to allow the unstuckness to unfold, gently, explosively, tearfully, and however that is natural and healing.
Yoga is a journey. It is not about the asanas, the pranayama, the mudras… It is what happens when we are in union, when we can honestly, with detachment, witness all our inner fluctuations and how we are within the outer rhythms. It is always listening and being there for ourselves, in our most sincerest ways, no matter what.
In meditation, I can let go of everything. I’m not Hugh Jackman. I’m not a dad. I’m not a husband. I’m just dipping into that powerful source that creates everything. I take a little bath in it.
Why Start with a Good Teacher
With its mass appeal outside of India, many modern-day yoga practitioners do not come from yoga traditions and years of disciplined practice. Studying privately with one teacher has many benefits, including receiving the transmissions passed down through the lineage. Perhaps more importantly as a beginner yogi is studying with a good teacher to ensure that we build a strong foundation to build our own practice. Otherwise there are also foundation courses or small-sized classes just for beginners. It is more difficult for a teacher to check on everyone’s alignment in a large class and injuries are more common than we’d like it to be.
Many students often mistake the process of getting into a pose as being purely physical. Because of flexibility and strength, it is easy for them to get into these poses, even the advanced ones, without necessarily understanding the subtleties. There is a difference between striking a pose and moving into one, with mind, body, and spirit aligned. Even in the most seemingly simple poses, there is more than meets the untrained eye.
Starting Your Own Practice
Start your home practice with a commitment. Drop all the glorifications and expectations you may have about what a home practice is. It is much better to have a daily practice of 15 to 20 minutes than an hour that feels more like a chore. Over time it will organically grow into a sustained and longer one. If you use a calendar, schedule it in. Set a timer for 15 minutes. In the beginner, it may feel more structured, before it becomes a habit, then a ritual, then just a lovely part of your life that you treasure and look forward to.
If you are new and feel uncomfortable about sequencing your own practice, try an online class. Or book in with a teacher to co-create a sequence for your current needs and level of experience. The Sun Salutation is a great series to start with. You can choose the pace and different variations.
I strive for a sincere yoga practice rather than a perfect one.
What will you do when life gets busy, or busier? For when you travel?
Life yields both expected and unexpected “disruptions”. Sometimes you find your dog or your cat waiting for you in the middle of the mat, or they decide to make you their jungle gym. A home practice deepens our inner awareness, as well as distilling discipline, and unleashing our cosmic sense of humour.
We don’t need a mat to do yoga. We can forward bend to relax when we feel tensions rising. 10 minutes of breathing or standing pose can be very grounding. The more we incorporate the asanas, pranayama, and other aspects of yoga, including ahimsa, the more the mat is the world for us.
Have you downloaded the meditation + yoga music created by Moby? He’s giving it away – download from his website.
Over the last couple of years I’ve been making really, really, really quiet music to listen to when I do yoga or sleep or meditate or panic. I ended up with four hours of music and have decided to give it away.