You’ve read about the benefits of yoga. You know you need to make a change in your life. Your body, mind, and soul are screaming out for self care. You’ve made up your mind – you’re going to start practicing yoga regularly. But after awhile, the reality sinks in. Going to a yoga class 5 times a week? Spending all that money and time away from your family? You begin to think that maybe a regular yoga practice is more trouble than its worth. But then you have an idea – you’ll do your practice at home! Even that, though, becomes complicated. So many options! Videos, streaming, special equipment, different styles…where to begin?
If this sounds like you, I may have a few solutions. I’ve been practicing yoga for over 6 years, and last year I began practicing almost exclusively at home. It’s been amazing! I don’t know why I didn’t start sooner.
What should you practice?
Believe it or not, this is the easiest part. The particular postures you practice don’t matter so much in the long run; although, I do suggest working closely with an experienced teacher, especially at first, while you learn some asanas and sequences that are right for you. Many instructors offer private lessons. While the cost of a private session is much higher than a standard yoga class, you’ll gain so much more from it, especially if your goal is to learn a home practice. Just 2 or 3 private sessions can equal a year’s worth of instruction in standard classes.
A really great place to start for just about everyone are Sun Salutations. They are basic yet powerful movements that are easily memorized, and can be modified in a number of ways to accommodate injuries or special needs. A sun salutation is a complete practice in and of itself, so you truly don’t “need” to do anything more unless your are willing and able. Sun Salutations are the universal language of vinyasa style yoga, so information on them is readily available online. Any experienced yoga teacher should be able to teach you how to do a sun salutation that works for you.
Why Not Use DVDs or a live streaming service?
If those work well for you, then by all means, keep using them! But, based on my experience and the experiences I’ve heard from others, they are just one more step and eventually one more barrier to consistent practice. The advice to just GET ON YOUR MAT gets more complicated if you have to set up a DVD or get online, especially if you’re planning on practicing pretty much everyday. The less hassle, the better.
When should you practice?
Whenever you can! Some say mornings are best because our minds are less distracted by the busyness of the day. Afternoons during my kids’ rest time is what works for me. Maybe evenings are best for you. Pick a time that works for you and stick to it. Don’t allow excuses or you will always find one.
Try to practice at the same time every day. If you can’t do that, try to plan your practice times in advance. That way, you aren’t scrambling to squeeze it in. Bottom line, don’t give yourself an out. If you only have 5 minutes, take those 5 minutes! Don’t make the mistake of thinking it is all or nothing. It’s true that physically, you’ll get more out of a 60 minute practice, but mentally, maintaining the habit of practicing regularly is more important and ultimately the bigger challenge.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we all had a dedicated yoga studio in our home? But, since we live in reality, most of us don’t, myself included. I practice in my living room because it has hard floors and my kids don’t bother me so much in there. If the weather is nice I practice outside. Sometimes I practice in my kitchen. Where you practice is up to you. Where will you be the least distracted? Where can your mat fit? Ultimately any place can work if you are determined. Don’t let less than ideal conditions stop you. Just get on your mat.
What about the “what ifs”?
What if you’re sick? What if your leg is broken? What if aliens invade? Guess what – you can, and should, still practice! A sick day practice will be as easy going as it needs to be to help rather than hurt. Same goes with an injury. Perhaps just get on your mat and do a few forward folds with deep breathing. There is always something you can do. Remember, the important thing is that you honor the habit of practicing, not what you physically do during practice.
So, how does one practice yoga at home? GET ON YOUR MAT regardless of the circumstances. Stop overthinking it. Stop allowing excuses to creep in. In order to get something you’ve never had, you must do something you’ve never done.