Like many yogis, my yoga path began at the local studio. Warm room, jasmine incense, free tea and knowledgeable teachers were something to look forward to again and again. I craved the new community of yogi pals I was getting to know, the opportunities to test out weird-looking poses, and guaranteed after-class bliss from all that sweating and bending. Before long, I was hooked. Unlimited membership? Sign me up. 30-Day Yoga challenge? Check. Rearrange the weekly calendar to fit in 7 days a week of Power Flow? Check, check! Yep, I was a Group Class Junkie.
And then I moved. To three different states. In less than four years. Chasing studios grew tiresome and expensive. Initially discouraged, I took up running again after a long hiatus, but later stopped for all the reasons I swapped it for yoga in the first place – old injuries, stiff hips, little to no upper body benefit. Time to develop a home yoga practice!
But how? It wasn’t easy, and the first few home practices were pathetic at best. Svasana came way too soon. But eventually my home practices grew stronger, longer, and inspired. Here’s how I did it, and how you can too:
1. Start With A Plan
Schedule your time on the mat, just as you would attending a group class, and find a place you can flow uninterrupted. That means no TV, no iPhone, iPad, or i-anything nearby. Leave Fido in the other room too. My standard poodle had a rockin’ Downward Facing Dog, but he insisted on using my mat to perfect it. Distraction!
2. Begin With A Pro
There are countless podcasts, videos, and streaming options to practice with. Learn the ropes with a few of these virtual classes to bone up on alignment, sequencing and pace before flying totally solo. In time, you may even want to consider yoga teacher training – whether or not you ever want to teach.
3. Create A Yoga Space
You don’t need a lot of room to get your home flow on – just enough to fit your mat, and, ideally, enough room to stretch your arms and legs in all directions. Hardwood floor is ideal, but if living in carpet-land, as I once did, go to Home Depot and purchase a couple of ¾” sheets of plywood. I laid them right on top of the carpet in the back bedroom and voila – studio floor perfect! Soften the lights and create a little altar with what inspires you – a photo, memento, incense perhaps.
4. Keep Taking Classes
Since teaching, I practice more at home than at the studio, but I try to take at least a few classes a week, from teachers that inspire me and keep both my practice and teaching fresh. Attending classes also helps keep you connected to others, giving and receiving a collective energy that comes with a shared experience.
5. Break The Rules
You’re alone, with no one to follow, so spend some extra time working on that party pose you’re dying to nail if you so choose. Or amp up the hip hop playlist if that’s what’s needed to get you motivated. Your home practice is the time to play, and fall in love with everything that drew you to this practice in the first place.
So give your home practice a chance. Your spirit, and your wallet, will thank you!