One of the most difficult challenges a yogi inevitably faces as they become serious about their journey is the necessity for a solid home practice. Without it, reaping the benefits, insights, and opportunities that yoga offers is difficult if not impossible. Even if you are one of lucky individuals who has both the time and the financial ability to make it to class every day, I would argue that a home practice offers you the ability to deepen your understanding and relationship with yoga— and yourself—in a way that you can’t when doing asana with a collective.
Over the last fifteen years I have slowly developed my own approach to fitting yoga into my daily home life (even on the days I attend class), and I am often asked how. Common questions include: “How did you create your home practice?” or “How do you find time for a home practice?” or more recently, “How do you make your home practice feel as natural as a class?”
Developing a consistent home yoga practice takes time and there are challenges that you face along the way. The following are some of the approaches and “tricks” that help me create the space—and give myself the permission I need— to bring yoga into my home and take it with me wherever I go.
Break your own rules
When I started practicing yoga at home, I had some pretty limiting ideas about what would make a home yoga session legit. I was convinced I needed at least 45 minutes to an hour and each session had to include the Invocation to Patanjali (I practiced Iyengar Yoga exclusively for 10 years) or a round of Aums, a preplanned sequence of poses, and a minimum of 5 minutes for savasana. In addition, my home had to be perfectly quiet without distractions like talking or the television running in the background in order to for my efforts to be worthwhile. As you can image, having three young children and full-time work made this incredibly difficult to execute on a regular basis, and as a result my home practice was sporadic at best.
It was only after I gave myself permission to break my own rules that I began finding the space for yoga in my daily life.
My personal practice looks different every day. Sometimes I start by chanting and singing aums and sometimes I jump straight into asana. I love a good savasana…but sometimes I don’t get mine in until I’m lying in bed at night. I have a great space in my office for a quick sequence or flow without distraction if my workday allows it, but quite often my yoga practice takes place in the living room with my family as they watch an evening show.
However I fit my practice in, every sequence, no matter how long or short, no matter how it begins or ends, is legit. My body benefits from it, my nervous system responds to my breath (which automatically regulates itself to my movements and each shape), and my Self recognizes the time I’ve taken to honor it.
Every practice is perfect in its own way.
Remember: Every shape is a chance for sacred geometry to happen. – Manorama
This may be one of the most important truths for you to learn. Sometimes your home practice may consist of a single pose—and that is enough. It seems incredible—impossible even—but it’s true. Some days my home practice looks like a single pose done with exceptional attention while waiting for my 7 year-old son to finish brushing his teeth and putting his pajamas on.
I took a Sanskrit workshop with Manorama of Sanskrit Studies & Luminous Soul Methods and she said something that I already knew to be true but had no words for: Every shape is a chance for sacred geometry to happen. My mind had been wrestling with the concept that one pose counted as a practice. I felt like I was slacking on those days I only managed to fit one or two poses in, even though my whole physical and internal self felt otherwise.
Every pose is worth doing, even if it is the only pose you will do for that day. Perhaps your practice is not only doing the asana, but also believing in the asana you have done.
Let music move you
The other day a woman in my yoga teacher training asked me how I made my home practice feel as natural as a studio class. She shared how moving just felt awkward when she was alone—and she is not alone in this—it’s a common sentiment. When you are flowing or holding an asana with a collective, it’s easier to “get in the mood” and “in the moment” because of the shared the energy and connection with your yoga community.
When you are all alone, you are faced with yourself, and while the connection with the Self is the most important one in yoga—it is also often the most challenging. Plus, when you can’t look around for direction or depend on a teacher to guide your next move, it gets real awkward, real fast.
Creating a playlist full of songs that resonate and deeply move you makes all of the difference. I love a good vinyasa home session. I have Spotify playlists packed with songs I love that give me energy, relax me, or even help me process difficult emotions. Often times, I let the music dictate my flow and determine each pose. Sometimes, I even find myself putting sequenced together in my head when a song I love comes on the radio while I am driving the kids to and from school.
Music is powerful. It helps us connect with emotions we might feel cut off from. It sparks our creativity and even helps us access movements we might otherwise be too bound up by self-consciousness or social anxiety to execute.
Music, pairs perfectly with a fledgling home practice.
Dedicate time every couple of weeks to creating a playlist or two that you can’t wait to listen to. Then roll out your mat and do asana like no one is looking (because they most likely aren’t)
Bringing your yoga practice home can feel weird, awkward, challenging…even impossible. But the beauty of yoga is that it can be done anywhere anytime. Creating a home practice is as simple as committing to intentionally executing one pose a day with absolute attention and focus for the full amount of time you are in it. The more often you do it, the easier it becomes and before you know it your home asana will feel as natural as practicing in class.