For me, one of the most rewarding types of practice is a solitary one. No teacher, no other students, just me, my mat, and the opportunity to explore. For some, this may be the only option during a busy schedule. For others, the idea of going it alone seems too challenging. When I began my teacher training on of our first “assignments” was to start a home practice. It was a foreign and slightly scary notion to me to do an hour or so of yoga completely unguided, but I gradually found my rhythm.
Now as an instructor I am able to share my own experiences with a home practice with my students. Part of my responsiblilty as a private instructor for people over-coming injury or trauma is to safetly guide them into postures in the clinic during our sessions, as well as give them tools to do it themselves at home until they feel comfortable enough to go to a “regular” class. (Which in Vancouver sometimes means 20-50 people and a teacher that is doing their best to be mindful of all those souls) Some of the most common questions that I get from my students are the same ones that I asked myself.
How will I remember what poses to do? What music should I put on? Where will I do it?
These are all good questions and an important part of finding your own home yoga rhythm so hopefully the following tips can help.
Yoga is a light, which once lit, will never dim. The better your practice, the brighter the flame. ”
1. Have a space – It doesn’t have to be a big space. Maybe in the living room, on the balcony, beside your bed, in the park, or if you have the option create a yoga room. Regardless of where it is all you need space for is a mat. Also, try to let it be free from external distractions like a computer, cellphone, mirrors, and other people.
2. Have a point of focus – If you have ever seen someone else’s yoga space or meditation area you may have also noticed an atlar. Your altar http://instagram.com/p/YfePyjzG_E/ can be simple or elaborate. Feel free to place meaningful pictures, a Buddha, your favorite Hindi God, candles, and stones. Whatever resonates positive energy and peace of mind within you. It not only helps solidify your space to practice but also helps culitvate your drishti or point of focus.
3. Have a set time – Making time for a home practice can sometimes be the most challenging especially if you are running a household. We can’t exactly lock children out of our room or ignore a partner that wants to spend time together. And if your a bit of a social butterfly, saying no to an event to practice yoga alone doesn’t always make the cut. That is why having a scheduled time to do your practice is essential. In the beginning, allow making it to your mat at home just as important as making it to your favorite studio class.
4. Have a plan – Your plan can be a sequence you learned in class, following a video, or just winging it. If you are new to yoga remembering what you did in a class can be hard and knowing if you’re doing it right or wrong may be non-exsistant. Thats okay because not only do we live in a world with information at our fingertips but also its when we explore the unknown that the best discoveries are made. Great websites like
Offer a wide range of classes for any length of time or intention. If you are on a budget there are also thousands of videos on YouTube and weekly podcasts available on iTunes. If you want to build your own sequence or learn more about a specific pose then check out www.yogajournal.com where they have an endless supply of information for everybody no matter what the level.
Music: If you are not following a video also feel free to choose some music that makes you feel good. If you’re not sure what to play Youtube, iTunes, and Songza (for those that can download apps) have playlists for just this purpose.
* If it is in your budget and you are new to yoga or looking to expand your practice, investing in a private session with an instructor can make all the difference. For my own students we set an intention and sequence that they can follow with the freedom to explore beyond.
5. Have fun – A home practice isn’t a chore and should be viewed as a privilege. Allow space for creativity, understanding, and most importantly, non-judgement. You are complete, you are perfect.