So if you’ve been attending yoga classes for a wee while and you’re feeling great – your body feels more open, you’re more aware of your breath, maybe you even feel calmer and more collected.. Maybe you’re starting to think about how you can take this practice home with you to feel like this every day?
If you’re starting yoga for the first time it’s best to go to a few classes at least so that the teacher can guide you in the foundations of the practice and get you into the swing of things. But once you’re feeling more comfortable on the mat I definitely encourage you to take the practice away with you and start to integrate yoga into your own routine, at home.
Benefits of Home Practice
If you go to class regularly you probably notice the benefits of consistent practice – then, when you miss a couple of weeks, suddenly everything feels a bit more creaky!
Yoga is a practice after all and works best when we do it often.
When you start to do a little bit between classes you can maintain continuity of your practice, which means not only retaining the benefits, but also having the foundation to make progress and maybe even go further.
FINDING WHAT YOU NEED
When you go to class you’re always going to be in a group setting which means the practice will be designed for general needs.
At home you have the opportunity to cater your yoga practice to exactly your needs and take it at your own pace.
Hips feeling tight? treat yourself to some lunges and standing postures
Want to boost your energy? Try a couple of sun salutations –
Tired and wiped out? Restore yourself with legs-up-the-wall or a reclined twist–
the world is your oyster.
LISTEN TO YOURSELF
The ultimate goal of yoga is a deeper knowledge of yourself – and home practice is the ideal opportunity to start to listen in: what do you need? how does each practice make you feel?
You can start to observe the workings of your own body, your own mind. Knowledge is power – the more subtly we become acquainted with our own being, the more control we have over how we feel and how we want to live.
AWESOME! so – what next?
Tips for beginning
KEEP IT SIMPLE
When getting into your own home practice, start as you did in class – at the beginning! The most important thing is to feel comfortable, so don’t go crazy. Do practices that are familiar to you, which you’ve done loads of times before in class. A couple of postures will be enough at first, so take your time, exploring how it feels to find your way into them on your own.
DO WHAT YOU LIKE
Making a new habit has to be fun, otherwise you’re never going to stick with it. The best way to build your home routine is to select the postures and practices that you like the most and which work best for you. If it feels impossible you won’t want to keep going – leave the difficult postures for class when the teacher can guide you – for now, at least!
When I first started practising at home I would get on the mat in the morning and try to remember the sequences I liked the most from the night before. It meant I could practise and improve those same techniques so I could feel stronger and more confident the next time I went to class.
SAME TIME, SAME PLACE
Make the practice fit into your own life! Again, it has to be convenient or you’ll drop it not long after you’ve begun. Choose a time that fits you and stick to it, so you don’t have to think about it. Soon you’ll find a habit forms.
I like to wake up, (take the dog out!), make a green tea and meditate, then get on my mat for about an hour. When it’s a no-brainer, it’s easier for me to get on with it without laziness or procrastination getting in the way.
USE A VIDEO
It’s obviously easier to stay motivated when there’s a teacher in front of you forcing you to hold that plank and there’s nowhere to run!
If you don’t feel motivated or you don’t know what to do, use a video class to get you going. I do this once or twice a week and it always brings me lots of inspiration.
After all you can always hit pause if you need to (if only you could do that to the real life teacher sometimes!) There are SO many great beginners yoga classes on youtube – or just use the short sequence I’ve recorded, below.
and finally –
DON’T EXPECT IT TO BE PERFECT
your home practice is unlikely to be as strong or as focused as going to class , but really that doesn’t matter. The home practice is about keeping the thread. For Yoga to work it requires consistency – but also, a little goes a Long way. All the dedicated yogis I know who have an established daily practice have kept it going by being realistic – knowing that inevitably the dog or the kids or the postman or some other piece of randomness will crash into your best-laid yoga plans, and that’s fine! At the end of the day just standing on your mat, spreading your toes and taking a deep breath is a step in the right direction.
[Yoga] Practice becomes firmly grounded when well attended to for a long time, without break, and with enthusiasm.Yoga Sutras, 1.18