Starting A Home Yoga Practice: 3 Keys To Getting On Your Mat
There are many benefits to practicing yoga at home.
You can hold postures longer if your body needs more time to relax. You can crank whatever music you like, or practice in utter silence. You can cry or scream, processing whatever emotion comes up without feeling awkward because you’re in public.
There are pitfalls, of course.
You skip the poses that you hate or are hard for you. You get distracted by your phone or the dirty dishes. People (or animals) interrupt you.
But the biggest complaint I hear? “I don’t know what to do.”
The hardest part of establishing a home yoga practice is simply getting on your mat.
You don’t need to block off an hour, even though that would be great. It’s more important to commit to something, than to skip it altogether.
Dedication to your practice is related to the element fire. Just showing up for yourself, even for only 5 minutes, ignites the inner flame of what can become a habit.
It is a purifying act, one that burns through excuses and patterns that distract. In sanskrit, we call it tapas.
Getting on your mat is an outer representation of your inner relationship. When you commit, you’re saying “I’m important!”
At first, you won’t know what poses to do. It takes practice to tune in to what your body needs.
Since most of us are so busy or distracted in our daily lives, it can take time to get into the groove once you do get on your mat.
Next time you go to class, study which poses or flows are easy or enjoyable. Bring those to your home practice as a way to get started.
Experiment, try things out, make something up, see what works, and what doesn’t. Doing so will help you get moving on your mat, and will help you know yourself better.
Remember, knowing and uniting with your truest self is one of the highest intentions of yoga.
Self-study, also called svadhyaya, is about making this connection. So, if all you get is a couple of focused breaths, where you practice turning towards yourself, rather than away, well that’s success!
3. Look For The Good
It’s easy to be critical or negative of yourself and want to be perfect as you learn this new skill. Instead, practice accepting what’s happening, and meeting yourself where you are.
While I’m not advocating only looking at the good, I am suggesting you find the beauty even in the most challenging or simple of circumstances.
Learning to practice yoga at home is an excellent opportunity to be playful, curious and even look/feel/act silly/stupid/clueless rather than being frustrated with your process.
When you take a more lighthearted approach, it shrugs off some of the heaviness and helps you see beyond your own small story to something bigger and more powerful.
Dedication to this inherent, indwelling Spirit of Good is a practice called ishvara pranidhana, and can even be done just lying on your mat, staring at the ceiling.
None of us is perfect at this home yoga thing. Even after twenty years of practice, I still walk out of my yoga room after 10 minutes because it just doesn’t feel right. And that’s ok, be patient with yourself.
Try bringing these three actions of yoga to your journey and see if it helps at all. It’s not a formula of poses, but a way of being —and that’s the real yoga. Let me know how it goes!
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I just stumbled on your blog trying to figure out why my arms hurt all the time (injury or overuse?) since I got serious about my yoga practice. I found your post on cactus pose then had to explore the rest of your blog! I wish I lived near you so I could take a class! I will be reading more of your blog though so I can learn from you this way!
Have a wonderful day!