I am a firm believer in developing a consistent home-based yoga practice as a way to improve overall health. The beauty about practicing at home is that anyone can do it and very few supplies are required. Although this is appealing, it can be quite overwhelming as well.
If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to designing a home practice you love, this guide is for you.
1. Set The Room
The first thing you need to do is to create a space in your home dedicated purely for your practice. This could be an entire room or just an area in your bedroom where you lay your mat and props. Wherever it is, make sure you have enough room to move and breathe. Keep the area clean and clutter-free.
Being in this space should make you feel happy and calm. This space will become your escape from the daily grind and become a safe haven for you to express yourself, dig deep, and have fun. Choose wisely and do whatever you need to do to make it feel like home. Get creative!
2. Get Some Gear
If you’re just starting out with yoga and don’t really know if it’s for you yet, I wouldn’t worry too much about spending a lot of money or mats and props. My first yoga mat cost me a whopping $7 and it served its purpose just fine!
However, if you’re in it for the long haul, a long lasting, good quality mat is a wise investment. My personal preference is a mat that is slightly thicker to protect your joints and one that is sticky, not slippery, especially if you tend to sweat a lot.
Wear comfortable clothing that allows you to move freely and makes you feel good. Again, you don’t need to spend a fortune on this, just wear what works and allows you to bend and move. Investing in a few props like blocks, bolsters and straps can also be a good idea, but not 100% necessary. Although they are optional, they can help make challenging poses more accessible.
3. Set Realistic Goals
Decide when, and how often, you will practice. Avoid self sabotage and feelings of shame by starting with small, manageable goals. I recommend that for the first few weeks you experiment with practicing at different times during the day and for different lengths of time. As you do this, you’ll notice what you prefer and what feels most natural to you.
Don’t try to force yourself into a pattern you think you “should” do. Let it come naturally and pay attention to what your body tells you. It is inevitable that you will encounter resistance along the way. Sometimes you just won’t feel like practicing and watching TV or having a glass of wine will seem much more appealing.
When I get in that kind of mood I always do the same thing and it has proven very successful. Any time I’m tempted to skip my yoga session for another unproductive activity I get changed in my yoga clothes, go sit on my mat and stay there for two full minutes. I don’t do anything except breathe.
Nine times out of ten just being on my mat will give me the urge to start moving or meditating. Before you know it I’m back into my regularly scheduled practice. For that one time out of ten where it doesn’t work out, I let myself skip yoga that day, guilt free. Remember to be compassionate towards yourself and practice loving discipline.
4. Find Your Truth
This is the most important step. I want you to dig deep and figure out why you want to start a home yoga practice in the first place.
There is a term in yoga called “Sankalpa” which means resolve. Sankalpas are different from resolutions because they focus on the positive rather than the negative. Intentions and resolutions generally start with “I will.”
- I will quit smoking
- I will lose 10lbs
- I will call my parents more often
Although there is nothing inherently wrong with these types of lifestyle changes; problems arise when they take on an undertone of guilt or shame. A resolution like “I will lose 10 lbs” can make you feel like how you are right now is not good enough. It reinforces the false belief that joy/peace/love lies outside of ourselves.
If thinking of a goal you’ve set for yourself makes you feel bad, guilty or uncomfortable, you are much more likely to give it up and quit. By setting a Sankalpa, you are setting a goal for yourself based on the belief that you are already enough and possess everything you need to bring that goal into existence.
- “I will quit smoking” becomes “I honour myself and make my health a priority”
- “I will lose 10 lbs” becomes “I love my body and demonstrate it by leading an active lifestyle”
- “I will call my parents more often” becomes “I share my love freely and abundantly”
When setting a Sankalpa, speak in the present moment as if you have already embodied the change you want to be and focus on your core values. If thinking of your intention makes you feel good, you’re on the right track. If it makes you feel bad, keep digging. This step can take a while to work through but it is well worth it in the long run.
5. Get Inspired
One of the best ways to get excited about your yoga practice is to reach out to the community for inspiration. There are so many online yoga classes now that it would be very hard for you not to find something you enjoy. Experiment with different teachers and different styles!
Give yourself permission to try something new and don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t work out. Every now and then, attend a class in person to get some hands on adjustments to help fine tune your home practice.
I hope these five steps help you develop and sustain a rewarding home yoga practice! Remember to be kind towards yourself and not get too caught up in structure that feels suffocating or constraining. Fluidity and compassion are key! Happy practicing.