One question that I’m often asked is, “I love yoga but I want to be able to practice at home instead of going to a yoga studio all the time. What are some tips to start and maintain a home yoga practice?” It seems like a relatively simple thing to do, right? Just roll out your mat and start moving through yoga postures, right?
But for many (myself included), keeping up with a home yoga practice can be difficult and challenging. I’m convinced that one of the reasons that it can be difficult to practice at home is because we expect our home practice to look and feel like our practice in a yoga studio. But it’s not the same. It’s going to be different, and once we let go of this expectation, it might be easier for us to start building a home yoga practice.
Why is a home yoga practice important?
While going to classes at a yoga studio is always a treat, sometimes, you can’t make it to class. It might be because of your schedule or because you’re traveling or because of financial reasons. Building a home practice allows you to get on your mat while also deepening your connection to yoga.
You see, when you go to class at a studio, it’s easy to just zone out, let your teacher take over and not really pay attention to what’s going on around you. OK, maybe that’s just me. But getting on your mat at home is a different dynamic. You are in charge, not only for moving your body through your practice but getting yourself (and your mind) to your mat in the first place.
A home yoga practice is really a mental practice. More than anything, it’s often our thoughts that keep us off our mat. If we can master those thoughts and nurture our home practice, then we are working towards mastering out mind – which is what yoga is all about.
- What’s keeping your from getting on your mat?
- What’s driving you to your practice?
- What do you expect to happen when you get there?
And, if you’re a yoga teacher, it’s critical that you have a home practice. It’s key to maintaining your inspiration as a teacher and to developing creative sequences that feel good on the body (versus looks good on paper).
5 Home Yoga Practice Tips
Here are few tips that will help you start and maintain your home practice.
1. Let Go of Expectations
Like I mentioned above, your home yoga practice will not look like your regular group yoga class. You don’t have to practice for 60-90 minutes. Start slow with 5-10 minutes. At the end of that time, see how you feel. Do you want to continue. If yes, continue for another five minutes and then check in with yourself again. If not, end your practice.
2. Move in a Way That Feels Good to You
Just like you don’t have to practice for an hour, you don’t have to do a set series of yoga postures. You know your body and you know what your body needs. You can pick a few postures (like 3) and work on those. One of those poses can be a posture that’s “challenging” to you – which often means that you should practice it more often
If you’re a runner, you’ll likely have tight hips and hamstrings so focus on hip and hamstring openers. If you work at a desk all day, heart openers will help open up your chest and counteract rounded shoulders and slouching.
Here are some general poses that you can incorporate into your home yoga practice:
- Standing forward fold
- Downward facing dog
- Standing postures (i.e. tree pose, high lunge, Warrior poses, triangle pose)
- Backbends (i.e. Bridge pose or salabhasana)
- Seated spinal twist
- Seated forward folds (i.e. janu sirsasana, paschimottanasana or baddha konasana)
Remember that yoga is more than just the physical postures. You could also spend the time on your mat meditating or working on your pranayama or breathing practice.
3. Make it a Habit
Note the times of day that are ideal for your home yoga practice. Maybe it’s first thing in the morning or maybe it’s after work. Whenever it is, try to commit to practicing at that time and make it a priority. It doesn’t have to be every day but try to make it a habit i.e. every Tuesday morning I will wake up and practice 15 minutes of yoga. Just like your daily run or workout, soon your home yoga practice will become a habit.
4. Clear Space
Find a space in your home that where you’ll be able to practice yoga. You just need enough space for your mat and for you to move around. Having a wall nearby is nice as it can help you balance and serve as a support for inversions or legs up the wall. Once you’ve decided on your space, gather up your supplies (yoga mat, props) and set them nearby. When you have a dedicated space, you don’t have to waver trying to decide where to practice.
5. Ask for Help
Practicing yoga at home can be overwhelming but you can always ask for help. You could ask your yoga teacher (if you have one) for advice or suggestions.