Yoga at home - making it a habit
Over the last months, there has been a big shift from face-to-face yoga activities being moved to an online environment across the globe. Practicing yoga at home has become well known and convenient to lots of people. Work organisations have been sponsoring yoga activities for their employees during the working hours to help ease the stresses of having to work from home. Yoga practitioners who have had their local yoga studio temporarily closed have shifted to either online classes offered by their yoga school or browsed the internet for inspiration and guided videos to practice with. The social distancing phase has also convinced others who have never tried yoga before to start exploring on YouTube or other online channels.
In principle, practicing yoga at home is much more doable than some other activities that require more space and/or specific equipment. All you need is space enough to roll-out a yoga mat or carpet and voilà, you're ready to get started! In reality though, finding the motivation and discipline to do yoga at home is for many people much more difficult than attending a class at the nearby studio. Makes sense! Doing an activity in a group and engaging with others face-to-face is energizing and fun. Having the teacher guiding you through the practice, suggesting modifications specifically applicable to you and making adjustments as needed are all helpful for developing our practice.
There is no denying that doing yoga in person with others and your teacher is beneficial but I really believe that topping it up with a home-practice is a big add-on to our yoga practice. So how can we form the habit of practicing at home and finding the discipline to step on the mat?
Here are some practical tips that have been helpful to me for maintaining a home-practice.
Finding the perfectly non-perfect space at home Your personal space at home is clearly different from that of the yoga studio. At the studio, the environment is especially set for yoga. The room is decorated in a specific way, the other students are there for the same purpose, the teacher guides you and keeps you focused. There are less distractions than at home where you may be surrounded by family members, kids, pets or the doorbell! If the only space you have where you can place a mat is the living room, distractions are almost inevitable. Whether it is the clutter that is around you or the realisation that the floor needs cleaning first, we can have so many reasons why it's not ideal to do yoga at home. So, are you willing to let go of all the distractions and let your surrounding be part of your home yoga practice? There is no point trying to replicate the exact experience of the studio. After all, the environment is different and that is OK! But if it is by any means helpful, light a candle :)
Ready, Steady...oh wait! Given the choice, it's often much more tempting to sit in front of the TV or start scrolling on our phones than to tell ourselves, "let's do some yoga"! Yeps, that is very true and so far I haven't found that magic button that I can press to make it an easier step but usually thinking of how I would feel after my practice is a good motivator. Our minds can quickly come up with justifiable reasons of other ways we can spend our time. So if you notice this happening to you, start shaking your hands and imagine shaking those excuses away. As you do that, go grab your mat, unroll it and sit or stand on it. By this point. you are already. Might as well do a few stretches! Go on and explore.
To follow or not to follow Figuring out what to do once you are on your mat is not necessarily straight forward. There are so many poses/flows to choose from, it can be confusing. Also, listening to what our body needs at the moment can also be a challenge. In this case, finding an online video and following that recording might be a better option, but hold on a minute - there are so many to choose from, which one to pick? Here you might need to do a bit of pre-work and I suggest to do that at a time when you are not already on the mat ready to go. Browse a bit and find a channel/teacher that you like. Start with checking the possibilities available on that channel, types of classes offered, level, time, theme. If any of them look interesting to you, mark them and pick one of the saved clips the next time you are at home having some yoga time!
Is it 5min or 5hours of home practice? Attending a class at our local studio requires planning. You book, you make time and you show up for that 1-1.5 hour. You are prepared and determined to do that class. At home, the situation is different. You may be squeezing in some yoga stretches and movement before the family wakes up in the morning or in the evening when it is more quiet. Either way, you are not behind a closed door at the studio with a start and finish time already set so your expectations for how much time you should spend practicing at home might need a bit of tweaking. Be realistic and do what you can depending on the day and circumstances. If you are experimenting with this, start with 5,10 or 15 minutes and see how that goes, how it feels. Remember to be kind to yourself and remind yourself that this is not a competition. You are doing this because you want to! Have FUN!!!
I better leave it at this for now before it turns to be a never-ending post. I hope you find these tips helpful and inspire you to hop on to your mat some time soon! If it doesn't work today, try again tomorrow or the next day. Just like anything else, it needs patience and repetition for this habit to be built.
I look forward to hearing how it goes for you and if you have other tips that work for you, am curious to read about them as well. Share your feedback and comments, you might also be helping another fellow home-yogi-practitioner. 😁
Big Hugs, Dan