Printed in Sweat Equity Magazine Dec/Jan 2018
As challenging and refreshing as it is to enjoy classes offered at a studio, the benefits of establishing a home practice are unmatched. For me, what strengthened the spiritual bent of this ancient art form was rolling out the mat at home. That’s not to say it doesn’t come without effort! Even as a seasoned student and teacher, mustering up the energy to get moving can be easier said than done. In this article, I hope to inspire you to get curious about establishing a sacred space within the four walls of your own home.
Clear Out a Corner
You don’t need radiant heaters, wall-to-wall mirrors, or Indian flute instrumentals to establish a rewarding home practice. Enough floor space to lay out your mat will suffice, and more than that is a blessing! More important is your capacity to “tune out the world” or minimize distractions when you’re there. A closed door is most effective, but when that’s not possible, open communication with your roommates or family about the importance of uninterrupted “me time” is a positive alternative.
Spend Time There Daily
The best time to practice a new habit is when you are less likely to bail. From there, consistency is key. Getting on the mat at the same time every day trains your mind and body to anticipate what's to come. The more automated your commitment is, the less effort required to maintain it. Think about brushing your teeth. This built-in ritual is an unquestioned part of our day! I love doing yoga in the morning. I feel calm, accomplished, and inspired before my day even starts. But when mornings aren’t happening, I practice when I can. Although yoga is a discipline that encourages flexibility and promises personal growth, it is still a discipline.
Tip: Practicing in the morning frees up the space in your head that might otherwise be filled with excuses for not practicing later!
Set One Achievable Goal
Select a goal that is near impossible not to meet. This is your starting point. Examples are doing one Sun Salutation, one Downward Dog, five minutes in Child’s Pose, ten minutes in Savasana, or 30 seconds in Plank—every single day. Simplicity is paramount. If you want your yoga to have longevity, to be a lifelong “self-help” resource, then daily commitment is ideal. Banish visions of sweaty two-hour sessions and instead repeat the mantra “less is more.”
Tip: Keep your mat 100 percent free of expectations. This is a space of solace, solitude, and self-love.
It’s Not Just About Posing
Remember, yoga is ultimately introspective, designed to align us with our best self. Even in asana, we use the postures to bring our attention inwards; this is where a home practice can really shine! Five minutes of gentle stretching can help focus your mind for contemplation or warm the body for a deeper physical session. By tuning in to your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, you tailor your practice to provide what you desire.
Develop a Ritual
Everything we do involves ritual, whether we realize it or not. The only difference between ritual and habit is the level of awareness we bring to each one. With yoga being an art steeped in mindfulness, consistently adding some pleasantries to initiate the practice (lighting candles or incense or brewing your favourite tea) will signal a shift away from mundane living, deepen your level of awareness, and enrich your time spent on the mat.
Sleep experts advise people with insomnia to get out of bed and putter around the house or do something other than lie in bed, staring at the ceiling. This not only stirs up anxiety around not sleeping but also strengthens an undesirable association between “bed” and “can’t sleep.” Just as we want our bedroom to invoke rest, we want our yoga space to beckon us inwards.
Head over here for some pre-designed sequences to get you started from home!