Creating a Personal Home Yoga Practice, it’s all about balance…
I am sure everyone can relate to life getting in the way of putting our own health & wellness first. I have had numerous family and work commitments, injuries, overindulgences and any other excuse you would like to throw in the mix that have taken me off course in my own personal path to self-care, and when I falter I feel like shit, quickly, if not immediately. Then there are the times that I am so focused on that next yoga pose or clean meal that I can lose sight of what’s really important, balance. Of course, everyone is in a different place with diet and exercise, some are just beginning to eat healthier, others are the hardcore workout warriors that could use a break from the discipline, some are getting back onto their mats after childbirth, an injury, a lapse, or maybe trying yoga for the first time. But, we begin at the beginning, wherever that is, and when we falter we begin again and again and again…
From an Ayurvedic perspective we are taught to live in harmony with nature. Nature is always in a state of flux and needs its’ opposing force to bring it into balance. (ie: hot/cold, inertia/frenetic energy, light/dark) The farther something goes in one direction the more effort is needed to bring it back into balance. This theory is simple, albeit not easy if we let things go too far astray. This is where the home practice stands out above all others. When done properly and consistently the home practice shines the light into our darkness and shows us what we really need, if we are prepared to listen.
1) Establish an uninterrupted space for your practice. If you share your space with others, creating boundaries is beneficial to all involved.
2) Your personal practice is time for you. Do it ALONE.
3) Make your space special by surrounding yourself with things that are important and or beautiful to you. Flowers, a picture of a loved one, incense, a deity, etc.
4) Show up every day, even if for just 5 minutes to just sit and breathe and check-in with yourself.
5) Play your favorite music to set the mood.
6) Keep a journal. Log the time and date. Write about how you feel before and after your personal practice. If something bothers you sit with it and explore why. Celebrate your challenges and your successes and write about them. If keeping a journal bothers you, sit with that and explore why…
FAQ’s for beginning a home yoga practice:
- I want to start a home yoga practice, should I buy a dvd or stream a yoga class?
Those are great tools, however, they are not YOUR practice and do not belong in the creation of your personal home practice. In addition, if you are completely new to yoga, please take a class with a qualified teacher live and in-person. Learning from a dvd or stream can set you up for injury and improper alignment. Best not to create any bad habits from the beginning.
2) I don’t have time for a home practice can’t I just catch one or two classes a week at a studio?
Showing up everyday for 5-15 minutes on your mat at home is more powerful than just showing up for one or two sweaty yoga classes a week at a studio. By all means please take those studio classes. But, supplement with showing up on your mat at home, even if at first all you do is literally show up and do nothing else but breathe.
3) I don’t know what to do or how to sequence a yoga session for myself, where do I begin?
Begin by beginning. Show up on your mat every day. Sit and center yourself by connecting to your breath. Take an internal inventory and observe your mood, your body, and ask yourself what your needs are today. Play music conducive to your mood if it supports you. Do whatever feels right and good for your body and mind and do it for as long as you have time.
4) I have never done yoga before, is a personal practice right for me?
A daily personal practice is the ultimate barometer for the yogi. A little bit everyday will take you farther than a lot of yoga once in a while. Take a class, private lesson or workshop for beginners to gain some basics for your personal practice.
5) What poses do you recommend daily?
There are many answers to this question. It depends on how much time you can give to your personal practice on that day, how you are feeling, what time of the month it is, etc. etc. However, here are few guidelines you can use to establish your home practice. There are of course, exceptions to every rule.
- Always get centered and connect to the breath for a few moments, whether from a seated or standing posture, no exceptions.
- Always warm up whatever part of the body you will be working. This could mean spine warm ups like cat/cow or a few simple sun salutations for vinyasa and for yin it may mean hip flexors before backbends.
- Standing Postures
- Standing balances
- Cool down with appropriate counter-poses like forward bending and twists after backbending
- Always practice Shavasana (deep relaxation) after an asana (posture) practice. It is also possible that Shavasana is your home practice that day.
6) I am a Yoga warrior. I practice at a studio 5-6 days a week. Do I really need a home practice?
Everyone will benefit from a home practice. Perhaps balance for the type A’s is a seated meditation practice at home. For others, practicing alone and bringing our intention truly inward teaches us a lot about ourselves. Ask yourself what you really need on that day and listen. Some of my biggest transformations have happened in my personal yoga practice. Try swapping out one of your studio classes for an at home or outside yoga practice. Revisit the 6 “TIPS” above.
We all know how difficult it can be to start or change any program. Often times we are drawn to the things that do not serve us and bring us out of harmony. Wherever you are in your yoga practice a home practice can help bring you into balance. Good luck and let us know how incorporating these tips are working or not working for establishing your home practice. It is after all a practice. Om, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti, Om…
Stacy & the Y3 team