Home is Where the Heart Is

Building a Joyful Home Practice

So you get to the occasional or somewhat regular yoga class, but still, you feel like it’s not quite enough. Maybe it’s in consideration of time or money or energy, but you find yourself wanting to practice at home yet lacking the motivation and/or discipline to do so.

Well if you’ve ever uttered the words “I’m just so bad at practicing on my own…” you’re not alone. And it’s a sentiment I can totally relate to, even as a yoga teacher!

Like you, I often struggled with wanting to practice more at home but having a hard time finding the motivation to do so. But over the years I have learned to build a consistent home practice by understanding exactly what it is that holds me back… and I can tell you that expectation of what a practice “should” look like is at the top of the list!

Here, I have put together a few tips and tricks that have helped me get connected to my practice at home when I was feeling resistant:

Pump up the Volume. Personally, when I teach I don’t use music since it can be a big distraction from what my client and I are focusing on and working through. But at home alone, I can’t imagine not having the music on! Forget “yoga music” and pick something you love. Upbeat, down-tempo, it doesn’t matter, as long as it moves you. Some days it’s violins and cellos for me, other days it’s hip-hop or house music. I find that turning on and turning up one of my favorite playlists gets my motivation moving upward pretty quickly as well.

Just get the mat unrolled. No really. Just unroll it and have a seat… or come to mountain pose or lay down with your arms stretched out wide. There is something palpable and engaging about the sight, texture and smell of your sacred mat that can do wonders for motivation by just feeling it against your hands or feet. Once you’re there, let yourself begin to move in anyway that feels right, and see what builds naturally. Or, if laying still feels best at that moment, start and end the entire practice with the same sivasana. That totally counts!

Inhale-2-3-4, Exhale-2-3-4. This one goes without saying, but engaging your yogic breath, regardless of whether your just sitting still or beginning to move, goes a very long way toward dropping you into a practice state of mind. Pranayama is meant to move energy through the body, and if you’re feeling lazy or stuck, you might be surprised at the energy that gets stirred up by just closing your eyes and beginning conscious breath work.

Remove the Clock. Whether you’re short on time or have all afternoon, don’t set yourself up for failure by thinking you’ve got to practice for a specified amount of time in order to make it count. If you practice for 20 minutes and then decide you’re just not that into it, well you know what? 20 minutes of yoga is FABULOUS! I find that I’m much more likely to get into my practice and spend more time than anticipated if I’ve forgone all expectations about how long I “should” practice and just do what my body feels like instead. Any yoga is good yoga… just be absolutely sure that you leave guilt or pressure out of the equation!

Give yourself permission to not follow the ‘rules’. Seriously. Forget how a ‘proper’ class is supposed to be outlined and let your body guide you. Hate upward dog? Take it out of your vinyasa. Hate vinyasa? Scratch it altogether. Do the poses you LOVE and skip the poses you hate. Hold them longer when it feels good to sink in or let things flow when movement is calling you. This is your practice and the only one who has to love what you’re doing is YOU.

Feeling the motivation rise but not sure which poses to practice? Try writing down a few poses you’ve been meaning to practice beforehand so you can pull out the list when you’re on the mat. Or tune into one of many online classes or tutorials for inspiration. You can follow along meticulously or ignore their sequence altogether and simply pick and choose what’s speaking to you at the moment. Even just looking at photos online can be a good motivator and idea generator. Again, it’s about tuning in to what feels good in your body, at that moment. Get creative. Personally, I love to throw in some dance moves and sing out loud if the music is moving me to do so because, why not!?

As a teacher, it is imperative that I put together a logical class sequence for my students so that I can guide them deeper into the physical practice without the risk of injury. But I also remind my students that the real purpose of yoga is to cultivate deep awareness, both physically and mentally, and creating a personalized practice at home that you feel really good about is an important step toward that end. By practicing in a way that promotes happiness and joy, you become connected to the deeper layers of you… and this is what yoga is really all about.

Have fun and Namaste,

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