Home practice doesn’t have to be anywhere near as long as a weekly class to be effective.
So here are some guidelines to help overcome the three biggest hurdles we all face in establishing a regular home practice (meaning we do it more days than we don’t):
- Complacency (how to make yourself actually do it)
- Fear (what to do when you actually start)
- Busyness (how to find the time)
Benefits of home practice
Self-knowledge – practicing on your own helps you learn to self-regulate and self-soothe. It’s like driving your own car versus being chauffeured – more attention to what you’re doing, and choice etc. (Jason Crandell again)
Self-help – the more you practice, the better you’ll become at assessing how you feel, so when you first come to the mat, you can choose a practice that counterbalances whatever’s going on – mentally, physically and emotionally.
Self-indulgence – you can do whatever you feel like, take anywhere from 2 to 90 minutes and do what you want at the pace, tone and intensity you choose.
Exponential growth – The consistency of a regular practice offers benefits that double and then double again.
Tips for designing your own practice
- Start with quiet, seated or savasana, to see how you feel and decide what you need
- Pick a direction
- if tired and pressed for time, a short restorative practice;
- If full of energy, opt for a more vigorous routine
- If you need grounding & stability, focus on standing asanas
- If you need energy, incorporate back bends
- Set a practice intention: e.g. creating a sense of spaciousness in a specific part of the body; working on a specific practice or asana; or noticing and letting go of any emotions that arise, without judgement
- Choose asanas you love – carrot, not stick
- Pay attention in class –maybe even make mental notes of aspects you enjoy
- Move in all directions: forward bends, backbends, side bends, twisting and inverted (parvatasana the mountain counts as an inversion)
The when and the where
- Give yourself permission to spend 10 or 15 minutes as an investment in becoming more focused and productive.
- Choosing a dedicated space in your house, if possible, can help create a space in your psyche for a practice to take root. It only needs to be the size of a yoga mat.
How to keep going, no matter what
When life piles up, get creative. “At its heart, a yoga practice is an intention to observe your actions and reactions. It doesn’t necessarily have to take a certain form.” “If you can breathe, you can do yoga: practice gentle pranayama exercises, or meditate, when you’re laid up in bed…..what really matters is your dedication”