While it is true that nothing can replace the guidance and instruction from an experienced teacher, it is also highly valuable to have your own Yoga practice at home. What we learn in class, we can improve on in our own time. Furthermore, we have the wonderful opportunity to explore our bodies, find our own rhythm and personalise the practice to whatever is needed on a particular day.
Here are some of our favourite tips for developing your at-home Yoga practice!
Dedicate a specific time
The best way to create and maintain a home practice is to dedicate the same time every day for it. This might mean waking up a little earlier in the morning, which can be difficult at first, but soon your body will adjust and become suited to the routine. It’s also okay if a morning Yoga practice does not suit your schedule- just pick any time that you can stick to and try to make it like a ritual. Consistency is the key to forming habits and your body and mind will love you for it.
Create a sacred space
If you are lucky enough to have a large, open space to dedicate to your Yoga practice then that is great! But any area in the home is fine, you can make it sacred and special by keeping it clean, tidy and perhaps burning some incense or a candle before practicing.
Keep your equipment here too- blocks (or books), a blanket and cushion or bolster. By making this your Yoga space, it will hold positive energy and help you to shift into the right mindset whenever you come into this space to practice.
Be your own teacher
We all have days where we just want to move intuitively on the mat, taking it easy and doing whatever feels good. This is a lovely way to practice from time-to-time! However, if you also want to keep progressing in your Asana practice and build up mental and physical resilience, it is important to sometimes challenge yourself in the same way that a teacher would.
You can become your own teacher by planning out the class beforehand so you have a specific sequence to follow, e.g. 108 sun salutations or the Ashtanga vinyasa primary series. During the practice, before you skip that chaturanga or come out of chair pose early, think- “would I do the same if I was practicing under a teacher?”. Maybe in class you would make the extra effort, so do the same at home!
There can be more distractions at home than in class, the main one being technology. So, if possible, try to turn your mobile phone off or place it in another room before you practice. It is all too easy to see a text or call and feel like there is something more important to attend to. But honour this time for yourself, the phone can wait for the next hour (you wouldn’t go on it during class!). It can also help to take 10 minutes before starting the practice, sitting with eyes closed, to prepare and mentally place all thoughts and worries to the side.
Experiment and have fun!
When you are practicing on your own, you have the freedom to spend longer practicing new poses which you might not have as much time for in a class, such as Bakasana or Pincha Mayurasana. Take this opportunity to experiment and bring an element of playfulness to your practice! Perhaps you can allot 10 minutes at the end to follow your curiousity and have fun with trying out different poses.
Continue the practice off the mat
When we think about Yoga, we might imagine Asanas or maybe meditation… but the most important part is to apply Yoga to every one of our actions. Have you ever finished a lovely Asana practice, rolled up your mat and then later in the day become frustrated, acted in anger or thought negatively about something or someone? Yoga on the mat is just a small part of the day, the real practice comes when we interact with other people and the world around us.
Karma Yoga is the path of unselfish action which we can weave into our everyday lives. Examples include keeping our environment clean and tidy, doing selfless good deeds with no expectation of reward, practicing non-attachment and non-desire, being empathetic and forgiving to other people and mindful in all activities we carry out.
Hopefully these tips have inspired you to bring more joy and intention into your home practice. If you have any other tips that help you, please share them in the comments below!