Ashley Winseck, guest blogger
Doing yoga at home is considered a vital part of deepening your personal practice. While it may be intimidating to attempt a practice without the guidance of an instructor or a weekly class, rest assured that you don’t need to be a super yogi to create a home yoga practice.
Create a habit.
Just like taking care of your car or brushing your teeth, your yoga practice should (and will!) become a habit and a standard part of your daily routine. Kripalu Yoga teacher Evelyn Gonzalez leads workshops at Kripalu designed to help people determine how to start practicing yoga at home. Using her personal experiences to guide others, she says, “If I go for months without a regular yoga routine I can feel my body start to fall apart.” The goal is to get to the point at which no doing yoga would be like not brushing your teeth, not getting your car’s oil changed.
“Be loose and free about the routine. Do as much or as little as you feel like doing. Think about what’s best for you and you alone,” Evelyn advises. Just because your neighbor practices for an hour a day doesn’t mean you should too. The first thing to ask yourself is: What schedule works best for me? If you’re already a morning person, consider practicing shortly after you wake up. Maybe your lunch break is the best time to practice, or perhaps before bed, to wind down from the busy day.
Remember to set moderate, realistic goals for yourself and your life. Whether its five minutes, 15 minutes, or an hour a day, it’s exactly enough if it’s the right about for you. “Studies show that 10 minutes of yoga a day is more effective than an hour and a half class every week,” says Evelyn. Whether you choose to practice at home three, five, or seven days a week, establish a routine and time frame that works for you, because it’s the quality of the time you spend practicing that matters, not the quantity.
There will be times when the idea of squeezing in your home yoga practice just doesn’t seem possible. “The one most important concept people need to hear and understand is that yoga, the point of it all, is to make a habit of coming back home to yourself,” says Evelyn. On days when you have less time to practice than usual, get creative with your routine. Try a shorter session, or take a few minutes to just sit and breathe. In ten minutes of slow stretching or breathing you can get yourself grounded.
For those particularly busy, crazy days, let something else be your yoga for the day. Whether it’s doing the dishes, folding the laundry, an hour-long commute home from work—whatever the task, make it a mindful, meditative experience and let that be your yoga practice for the day. Evelyn’s advice: “Observe the mind’s craziness, rather than be driven by it.”
“You can really explore and listen within when you are practicing on your own,” Evelyn explains. “Exploration is the way to keep life interesting … letting go of right and wrong and being in the creative energy of experimentation. Listening to the nuances of each movement as felt in the body.”
Ready to start practice at home? Remember these quick tips as you go through the daily process:
- Practicing at home is convenient (not to mention, free!). You don’t have to commit to giving the practice more time than you want.
- Personalize and tailor your yoga routine to fit your own needs. Choose the poses that help you the most; you could decide to improve a different pose each time you practice, or set up a routine that you follow.
- Put your mat out the night before, so the space is prepared for your practice the next day.
- Your yoga practice doesn’t have to be a complicated event. You don’t need candles or music (unless you want them!). It’s enough to have just you and your yoga mat and a few quiet minutes with which to slow down, breathe, relax, and feel your body in a few delicious stretches.
- Remember that anything can be your yoga. You can turn daily tasks into mindful, meditative practices.
Ashley Winseck is an editor at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health.