Starting a home practice will make the difference between stagnation and evolution both physically and mentally. I started a home practice out of necessity, I was living on the outskirts of Yellowstone National Park and yoga studios weren’t exactly around the corner. It’s hands down one of the most empowering, transformative habits I’ve ever developed. Truthfully, it can be a little intimidating, standing at the edge of your mat wondering where to begin. Even the act of rolling out your mat can be monumental at times. I genuinely can’t emphasize it enough, creating a routine around a home practice will change you on a cellular level. I promise, one day you will look down and realize that you are not the same— in the best way imaginable.
You might say, well, I have an amazing studio that I go to and I love my teachers and everything is wonderful, etc. I get it. But your teachers will never know your body, they will always be teaching to an audience in a studio setting. What you develop in a home practice is an incomprehensibly intimate relationship with your body and spirit. It forces you to start poking around in the cracks and crevices— in those little grooves is where all the magic happens.
Ask yourself why. Possibly the most crucial and overlooked ingredient in developing any discipline. What is your reason? Spiritual practice? Weight loss? Cross training? Preventative medicine? To feel good? When you start to fall off the wagon, and you lose the rhythm, reconnect to your why, this provides a higher purpose for grounding into a routine. You have to have a reason for doing what you’re doing, otherwise it’s an empty practice with no longevity.
Schedule time in the morning. The morning is when you are fresh, optimistic, and have the opportunity to set a tone for the day ahead. Plus, if you push it to the afternoon, chances are you’ll make the excuse, “I will start tomorrow.”
Utilize resources. We all have moments, or weeks, possibly months of lacking creativity and drive, periods of struggle, depression and decreased motivation. In these waning moments of darkness I usually turn to online resources. There are multiple online platforms with teachers from across the world leading hundreds of different types of classes. I started using CodyApp before it was bought out by AloMoves, but there is also YogaGlo, oneOeight and Gaia. It’s a great place to start training yourself how to get in motion of practicing from home without added pressure of figuring out how to take yourself through posture sequences.
Pick a posture. If you are free forming your home practice but don’t know where to begin, try choosing a posture you want to work towards. For example with heart openers, you’ll need to create flexibility in the spine, and space in the front body. This includes things such as quadricep openings, erector spinae + trapezius strengthening, etc. Essentially, find the peak posture and work backwards, what kind of movement is required to safely enter the pose? A great book to learn more about the anatomical aspects of the practice, check out Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff.
Start slow. Remember that developing any kind of practice or discipline requires time and patience. It’s about consistency over long periods of time. A big problem in our world today is people want immediate satisfaction with little effort. Yoga is a lifelong practice, and one that will inevitably leek into every aspect of your life. While this is beautiful, it can also be frustrating to feel like things aren’t happening as quickly as you imagined. Remember growth happens slowly, little bit by little bit. Maybe you do a home practice once a week, gradually that turns into twice, and then maybe more. Set the bar low, start with digestible chunks of time— 20 or 30 minutes once a week and progressively increasing from there. If you set the bar at an unrealistic level right away, most likely you’ll burn out. Keep in mind, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.