Whether you are just starting your yoga journey or have been in the game for years, having a home yoga practice can be very rewarding. With apps, video platforms and eBooks, there is a still growing number of resources available to start and maintain a consistent home practice, but just like choosing the right studio and yoga teacher for you can take some time, building a home practice can take some time and experimentation. We’ve compiled a list of tips to get you started:
1. Define your goals and intentions
Having a home practice can be many different things – it can even be different things on different days – but it is a good idea to define what you want out of this new habit before you start out. Find your why and set some intentions about what kind of practice you want to build. Are you doing this for your mental or physical health, or maybe both? How much time do you want to dedicate to it? Then set some goals for your practice. These can be goals about a pose you want to master, about how many times a week you want to practise, about being patient with yourself or something else. Make sure you set gentle and realistic goals so you won’t get discouraged. You are starting something new and that is an accomplishment in itself!
2. Conduct a little bit of research
With all the resources available out there in the form of video classes, eBooks and yoga apps, there’s so much to choose from no matter what level your practice is at, but just as it can be trial and error to find a studio and teacher you connect with, it will most likely take a little bit of time and trying a few different things to structure your ideal home practice. If you’re quite experienced, you might prefer practising to your own beat, but if you want guidance, a little bit of research is probably required.
Although it’s always great to go to at least a few classes and get a feel for your body’s limits and alignment in a safe space with guidance, you could potentially start a home practice without ever having been to a yoga class.
3. Choose your mat
Now this one is exciting – sure, you can start your practice at home on the carpet or on a towel, but having a yoga mat not only makes practising easier and more comfortable, it also instantly creates a space for you to feel calm and safe, even if you don’t have a lot of room to create a whole “designated yoga area”. There are lots of different options in different price ranges and materials depending on your style of practice: the Sticky Mat is a great option for a first mat; the Eco Everyday Mat is the most sustainable option and made from tree rubber; the Everyday Reversible Mat is a sturdy versatile mat for different kinds of practices and the Everyday Wellness Mat offers a little more cushion.
4. Create your practice space
It would be ideal to be able to dedicate a corner or room to your home practice, as this means that you could leave your equipment out and you’ll probably be more likely to practise frequently, but it’s not necessary to have a lot of room to have a home practice. Depending on the type of practice you plan on getting into, you might want to get a few props to support you. A bolster and a soft blanket are a great starting kit for a restorative practice, while a belt and a couple of bricks will help you with tricky poses in a more dynamic practice.
Whether you have the room to create a soft and plush space with bolsters, blankets, candles and room to move, or you just have your mat rolled up under your bed and roll it out in front of your TV when it’s time to practise, it’s a good idea to set the scene: get rid of distractions by setting your phone to flight mode and let your family know that you are going to claim the living room and close the door for the next half an hour or so. Next up: make it your space, light some candles and maybe dot some essential oil on your wrists and temples and put on some music if you feel like it. Finally, make it a safe space and sit down on your mat for a few deep breaths before you begin your physical practice.
5. Schedule time for yourself
Some days, you are going to crave time on your mat and others, you are going to have to drag yourself onto it – and that’s all right! As opposed to when you’ve signed up to a yoga class or course, no one is going to be waiting for you to show up – so you are going to have to show up for yourself. This might be easier if you schedule time for your practice by actually putting it in your calendar, setting your alarm or putting it on the to-do list – whatever works for you!
6. Find your teacher
Because of the vast number of resources available for a home yoga practice, you also have lots of teachers to choose from, and it can take some time to find someone who resonates with you and your style of practice. Especially if you are new to yoga, give it some time, just because you maybe did not particularly enjoy the first couple of online classes you tried, it definitely does not mean that yoga is not for you. Give it some time and try a few different approaches!
7. Keep it simple and be gentle
It could take you a while to find your groove, so be patient and forgiving towards yourself. You are starting something new, and even people who have practised for years still find that they go through periods where getting on the mat takes more effort and doesn’t happen as often as they would like. It takes time and effort to create a habit. If you fail to get on your mat for a while, don’t beat yourself up, just get back on it once and take it one day at the time.
8. Listen inwards
This one is especially important if you are new to yoga, but even if you are a seasoned yogi, a home practice is very different from coming to classes. At home, there’s no teacher to watch over you and to give adjustments and keep you safe, so it is very important that you listen to your body. In classes, the teacher is also there to challenge and push you, so it goes both ways: make sure, as well as respecting your boundaries, you also challenge yourself and explore your limits.
9. Remember Savasana
Do not skip Savasana, just because you are home and could be doing laundry or cooking dinner. Savasana is your time to enjoy the after effects of your practice and take a moment to just be!
10. Jump into the occasional class
Go in for the occasional tune up. Even if you manage to build a consistent home practice, jumping into a class once in a while will help you feel inspired and gives you the opportunity to practise outside of your normal boundaries and try new things in a safe space. Plus the energy of a full and buzzing yoga class, you have to come to a studio to find, and there is something very unique and empowering about moving through a sequence in unison and connecting with the breath of 15 other individuals.
Read more: yogamatters.com