Home-practice is the art of the self-practice. I like to think of it as play-at-home-yoga.
People often ask me how to start a home-practice and I think of the times that I’ve been told it’s “easy”, “just roll out your mat and do it.”
Sure, it may be easy for some, and maybe it’s easy once you’re in the zone, but it’s certainly not always so easy to take those first wobbly, uneasy steps into the world of ‘yoga at home’. We all have lives of hustle and bustle; coffee chugging, client meetings, a three-year-old pulling on your leg, non-stop phone calls, playdates, social gatherings, laundry, dishes (I could go on).
We live in a time when we have information piercing through our fingertips 24 hours a day, ‘honey-do’ lists stretching longer than our arms, and at no other time in the history of mankind have we been in more of a hurry. It is no wonder we leave our self-care on the back burner. We have gently worn yoga pants turned into lounge pants (beerasana pants, here here!), we pay for un-used gym memberships, and we find ourselves with stacks of expired yoga class-passes to our favorite local studio (expired class passes, say what? Just me? Cool).
Many days I feel like I’m dragging the skin on my forehead across my living room rug and trying to drag myself into the present moment and other days I feel as though I am flying in my living room. It is no wonder that no one yoga practice is the same - no one day in our lives is alike; some days we soar and other days we sink.
What we have to remember though, is that it’s all yoga. The practice of yoga does not require fancy pants, sticky mats, wooden floors or the wafting scent of patchouli. If you can find your breath, you can practise yoga - anywhere. But what does finding your breath mean exactly? It means to be completely honest with yourself - to expect nothing and accept everything. To put is simply, to find the breath is to be present. Building a home-practice starts with finding this breath and using it to move the body as we desire.
Routine is super important. Develop a routine and stick with it. Commit to starting a practice at home and spend as little as ten minutes a day on your mat. Start with this and work your way up to longer periods of practice. I found it difficult to stay committed until I asked myself to take at least ten minutes everyday, for two weeks, even if that meant laying in Savasana the entire time. After two weeks my practice became a part of my daily routine, like my morning coffee.
To begin, commandeer a floor space in your home, near a window or a hallway perhaps. Anywhere that you can move your body. I like to practice next to the windows in our living room; it’s where the sun can kiss my skin as though I am dancing with the outdoors.
Set an intention for your practice. Before you start your practice give yourself a moment to adjust to what you’re about to do. Come to sit or lay down and allow your thoughts to guide you to where you need to be. Your intention can be as simple as focusing on deep inhalations and exhalations or dedicating the practice to finding peace or strength.
Practice poses that you like. Start out by doing what feels good in your body. If you like a certain sequence that you’ve learned from a class, do it. If hanging out in downward dog feels good, do it. Don’t worry about how to do yoga, you’ll feel in in your body. The physical body gives us information about what feels nice and not-so-nice, whilst the breath guides us into postures, so listen to both. A home practice is also one of the best ways to get creative whilst no one is watching. Most days, I find myself dancing in my practice, as I move into rhythms of my breath within each posture! Go with how you feel - some days, music has me bustin’ a move and other days, I find still stillness in longer holds where my breath is the only music I need.
Self-practice is self-care is self love
Your home practice just another form of self-care. You brush your teeth in the morning, you have a shower and check the mirror, so why wouldn’t you also just get on your mat and practise another form of self-care? Dedicating a little time to tuning out of the world and tuning into yourself is the one of the greatest acts of caring for yourself.
Yoga has taught me that my breath has the capacity to change an outcome in any situation. I don’t have to be on my mat to slow my breath, tune out for a second, focus on myself and change what’s going on inside my head. Take time out of your day absolutely anywhere - on the bus, at your desk, waiting for a meeting - and use those brief moments as a tool to bring you into what’s going on in the present. Remember that once you’ve got that, you’re practising yoga constantly, whether or not you’ve got your best Lycra and your wafting patchouli out!
You can read this article in Draze Magazine, Jan/Feb 2015 issue: www.draze.co.uk