Most of us start out on our yoga journey by taking group classes. This is a fantastic way to learn yoga. You will be in the hands of a trained professional who can teach safe alignment and keep you injury free. At some point, after you’ve absorbed the fundamentals, you might develop an interest in practicing yoga at home.
This is easier said than done. As hard as it may be to get yourself to a yoga class, once there you are mentally dedicated to staying. Barring illness or injury, it is unlikely you would ever get up and leave.
In contrast, the home environment is full of distractions that challenge our commitment to practice. Phones ring. People come and go. Kids and pets don’t understand the ‘Do Not Disturb’ edict you have laid out for them (I’m talking to you Seabiscuit).
I struggled for a long time to establish a home practice and I’d like to share a little about how I finally made it work. Here are a list of common reasons your home practice is nonexistent, followed by my tips.
1. There’s no room in my house => Dedicate a spot to practice
Be creative about where to set up. Turning the bed in my guest bedroom 90° freed up ample space. When I have guests, the bed gets turned back. Keep decor here minimal. The more there is to look at, the more there is to distract you.
2. I don’t know what to do on my own => Practice with a virtual teacher
This is also great for when you are short on motivation. Download full classes from websites like aliveyoga.com. Use a smart-phone app. Pickup a yoga DVD from a local vendor or your public library. Use one of my stick figure class sequences.
3. The kids, pets, my significant other keep interrupting => Let people know this is ‘me’ time
It might feel selfish, but it is in fact the least selfish thing you can do. After your practice, you will be calmer and more centered. This is a selfless gift to those around you.
4. Ok, the kids, pets and significant other have left me in peace, but I can hear the TV and, oh yeah, those dust bunnies remind me that I should be cleaning the house => Learn to shut out distractions
With the practice of pratyahara, sense withdrawal, your mind can stop being a slave to your senses. When you feel bombarded by sensory input, soften your senses so what you hear, feel, see, touch and smell lose intensity. Be less aware of your external environment as you focus on your breath and body.
5. I don’t have time to practice => A five minute practice is better than no practice
Match the length of practice to the amount of time you have. Perhaps you just sit and meditate by watching your breath for 3 minutes, then follow up with a lateral stretch and a seated twist. Be guilt free about this – especially when so-and-so tells you about their 90 minute daily practice. Instead, feel gratitude toward yourself for making it onto your mat that day.
6. There is never a ‘right’ time => Be flexible about when you practice
I’m a morning person, so I get right into it after waking up. If the morning flies by and I didn’t get onto my mat, I’ll make time later in the day. Remember from #5, a short practice is better than no practice.
7. It’s not as blissful as going to a class => Make it feel special
Light a candle or incense. Play music you like. Over time, these will trigger your nervous system to relax into yoga mode.
Hope these tips help you get your home practice established. Let me know how it goes.