photo by ashley flaig photography
Creating a home practice is imperative for not only growing in a physical sense, but also tuning into our our needs so that we can reflect, refine and renew ourselves. It may be a scary idea to think of setting even more time aside for this form of self care, but it really is extremely rewarding, and eventually addicting.
A home practice can be really anything that you want it to be. Everyone is different, therefore, our exact needs in life vary however everyone truly requires some sort of self attention. This may come in the form of physical movement, heart or mind space work or spiritual deepening. Whatever forms of practice and care that you need in order to come out the other side more refreshed and ready to conquer your day.
To start, I would recommend making a list of things that you like to do that make you feel at peace, grounded and available + open to receive.
Divide it into 3 categories. Physical, Mental (emotional) + Spiritual.
Diving into yoga asana on your own takes bold courage and discipline. Jason Crandell, a San Francisco based yoga instructor, found at jasonyoga.com says, "Practicing on your own helps you learn to self-regulate and self-soothe." This is because it requires you to be present with yourself, listening to the sensations that arise within the body, observe their presence and act accordingly allowing your breath to guide your next movement. Practicing at home gives you the freedom to self indulge. You are not on anyone else's clock but your own. You can take as little or as much time as you want. You can choose whatever poses, pace, intensity that you desire. All that is required is your presence. And with time, it becomes a habit that will only continue to multiply the benefits you receive from the amount of time you dedicate.
This may be in the form of breath (pranayama) work, meditation or quiet time. You may find journaling, intention setting, reading or just sitting in observation mode to the world around you. This is where we dive in to who we are-reflection- identifying our truths- strengths + weaknesses and use this time to evolve as beings. Maybe you listen to TED talks, or inspirational speeches, or read the Yoga Sutras. Maybe you JUST read. We are expanding our knowledge, growing our wisdom, and applying these moments of reflection to our NOW.
You find your purpose here. It can be in any form of "ritual" that you like. There is no right or wrong. You are simply looking in and listening. Maybe you sit in silence with nature and feel the vibration of this earth below you. Maybe you chant or hum or pray and you feel the frequency of the energy you're outputting. This can be as deep as you desire, written by your own heart. Simply agree to show up and be present so that you can be available to receive whatever it is that your core is trying to show you. those "aha" moments.
So now what? Here are a few tips to help you start.
SET SACRED SPACE
First and foremost you have to carve out time and space for a home practice. Find a time in the day that consistently is available for you to set aside. Now this doesn't mean that every day you absolutely must practice at that time- life happens. But, it is important to implement consistency. So, go through your week in advance and block out time, anywhere from 10-75 minutes that you can carve out and be fully present and available. This is such an important aspect. Think of this time as giving back to yourself. Even if it is only 10 minutes of mindfulness and movement, it is 10 minutes of self care. You are finding balance and inspiration for the rest of your day. Its almost like logging of from responsibilities, removing the weight upon your shoulders so you can reset, refresh, and recharge. When you check back in to your day, you will have more balanced energy and a fresh perspective.
Find an area in your home that you wish to practice and create a conducive environment. Clear the space of clutter so that you are less likely to notice the chaos during your practice. Turn off your phone and shut down the TV in the other room. Maybe light a candle or turn the lights down to a lower setting. If pure, stark silence makes you uncomfortable, you can always turn a sound machine on to something like waves, or even light instrumental music, but make it extremely faint o that it isnt drawing your attention out of your practice. This is YOUR space, so you want it to be familiar and comfortable. Arrange your space however you need to so that YOU feel the most at ease and peace and present.
Whatever part of the day that you choose to practice, try to block out a bit of time that will remain uninterrupted. Start with stillness. Either sitting in sukasana (easy seated pose) or lying in savasana (corpse pose) allow yourself to arrive. Transitioning from the outside stimulation onto your mat may take a little time so be patient and compassionate with yourself as you ease deeper into observation mode. Feel the sensations of the body. Notice where tension may lie. Observe the pattern of your breath. These are great ways to help you ease into the moment and be available and open to hear what the body is telling you so that you can honor those sensations.
SETTING THE DIRECTION
This is about listening to your body. When we arrive on our mat, we are not always a full ball of energy. And that is ok. Whats important is that you listen to what your body is telling you. If you are feeling tired, then honor that by choosing a slower pace, and perhaps more restorative like (seated or supine) combination of poses. If you are feeling energized, allow the pace to move slightly faster and include standing poses. If you are pressed for time, then honor that by picking just a few key poses to get in and allow the breath to just lead whatever feels good in between. There is no right or wrong here as you are honoring your body with what YOU need.
If you have ever taken a public yoga class, or even watched a video online, you will find that most instructors encourage setting an intention or dedication for practice. This is simply a way of directing your attention throughout the time you set aside for practice to a certain focal point. Now this can be as simple as breath. Whenever the mind wanders, which it will, you have that focal point (intention) to continually draw your attention back to. Now this can also be letting go of expectations or judgements during practice, giving yourself compassion and patience or even just simply returning to the present moment to feel where you are creating space within the mind and body.
DIVING IN (to poses)
This is rather open. You can choose any poses in the world that you want to include in your home practice but when we are first starting out, we want to be encouraged and motivated to continually show up day after day. So think of a situation or even that you love. It typically includes activities or people that you want to see right? Well that's kind of like our home practice. Start with choosing poses that you love and that make you feel good. You want to be excited and look forward to practicing. Like when you think of getting in your home practice your more like, hell yes! than hell no! You can eventually start to broaden your horizons once you have a regular home practice to include poses that are more challenging.
HOW TO STAY AT IT
The only way to grow is to continue practicing. That means applying yoga to all areas of your life. Again, yoga is not just a practice of physical movement, it is a practice of our mind and our spirit too. Amy Pearce-Hayden, RYT, founder of The YogaScape and Spa in Carmel, New York, and youyoga.me—a website geared toward yogis practicing on their own at home. says, "At heart, a yoga practice is an intention to observe your actions and reactions." To anything. To everything. Its about mindfulness and presence. So maybe you're having an off day or feeling under the weather, your practice of yoga that day can be the concept of observation. How does the hot tea make you feel? Is it soothing to your throat? What are the scents? What comes to mind when you smell the honey or lemon? Maybe you gently tune into your breath or meditate while lying in bed. and so on.
Or maybe you have an extra busy day filled with events and activities and physical practice is near impossible. Instead, practice mindfulness. How are you feeling during this chaos? Are you caught up in the high intensity of your day that you react chaotically of differently to others around you? Maybe you have conference call that only requires your attendance. Can you incorporate breathing mindfulness while taking notes?
The practice of yoga ca be applied to anything. At any time. What really matters is your determination and dedication.
Anything that’s a practice takes commitment, patience, and a certain level of generosity to yourself. With time, it will become more natural and involuntary. You will begin observing your actions. You will begin reacting mindfully. You will begin carving out time and creating space for movement. It will all become so much more fluid as you continue practicing it all. Over time, the privacy and familiar surroundings that once were extremely terrifying for you will become natural and effortless. You will come to know yourself better. What you need. What you fear. What you react to. What soothes you. And coming to know ourselves better helps us evolve into the best version of ourselves so that we can then present that person to those around us.
We may not notice the changes at first. Don't be discouraged. Over time, these very small changes that are occurring within begin to develop and mold into larger more monumental successes. Our self growth begins to multiply exponentially and we feel lighter. Happier. More balanced and aware. More in tune with who we are and what ignites us. What our purpose is. And that, my friends, is what it is all about. Yoga helps me notice, process, and release the inevitable physical and emotional kinks that build up during the course of daily living. It helps me to be a better mom. A more open and receptive teacher. A more loving friend. A being with purpose and fire in my belly. I don't want to know the human i would be without yoga.