It took me years to develop a home yoga practice. I craved more of what I felt after savasana at a studio class, but my Type A mind often stopped me from rolling out my mat at home:
What’s my plan?
How long do I have?
Am I doing this right?
What was that sequence the teacher led us through last week?
I don’t have the right music.
I don’t have enough time.
I don’t know what comes first or next or last.
If I couldn’t do it “perfectly,” it seemed, then it wasn’t worth doing it at all.
Luckily, I’ve learned that, like so many of my perfectionist tendencies, that’s simply a lie. Here are five tips to help even the most Type A aspiring yogi or yogini begin a home practice:
- Just start. Don’t overthink it. Don’t wait for the perfect time, the perfect space, the perfect outfit, the perfect whatever. Don’t believe the lie that you have to have a plan. This might feel counter to everything that has served you in the past — and that’s ok. Lately, my home practice takes place early in the morning, almost completely in the dark (so I don’t wake my early rising kids!), in my pajamas, on my kitchen floor. It’s not fancy, it’s not like what I practice in a studio class, and it’s still yoga.
- Move mindfully. Take the time to tune in and reflect on what your body, your mind, and your heart (yes, even this my cerebral Type A friends!) are asking for. Are you in need of rest? Are you craving vigor? Does something physically or emotionally need to be attended to, stretched, or comforted? Instead of setting your sights on recreating a complicated flow sequence you saw somewhere else, move inward. Maybe today’s practice is a few intentional side stretches while you wait for your coffee to brew or one downward facing dog. Maybe it’s five sun salutations. Maybe it builds toward handstand against your bedroom door. Maybe it doesn’t involve much asana at all and instead looks like you sitting quietly focused on your breath (yep, that’s still yoga!).
- Use home to practice what you’ve learned in a studio class. While your home practice often looks quite different from a studio class, it can also be the space where you continue to work through what you may have done with a teacher. If you notice that, once you get home, it’s hard to remember a certain sequence or steps into a posture, ask for help. Your teacher may be very willing to share notes or even allow you to video yourself during class so that you have a reference for use back at home.
- Consider streaming services, books, and flashcards. Streaming services, online videos, books, and yoga flashcards are tools to have in your home practice toolkit. Want to work on something new or simply allow yourself to be taught, but can’t get to a led class? These tools can walk you through sequences, therapeutic postures for specific ailments, and give you to chance to try a yoga lineage that might not be readily available on your community.
- Remember that yoga is more than asana. While Instagram might have us (at least those of us living in the west) that yoga is about striving for making our body take super bendy shapes in beautiful landscapes, the truth is that this practice is about so much more. Asana or the physical postures we move into is only one of the eight limbs that comprise the yogic system for living. Your home practice might be the place you grow into a more physically flexible self or it might be the place where you practice other limbs, like pranayama (breath work) or dhyana (meditation). It’s all yoga. And it’s all good.