It was one of my first yoga classes when our dedicated Ashtanga teacher explained to us how we could practice yoga anytime, anywhere. I think most of us yogis have the intention to make it a daily routine, but to be honest: it takes some effort!
Even though I couldn’t imagine it back then, now my yoga mat travels with me wherever I am, wherever I go. This is how I got started with my yoga home practice.
1. Create some space.
Dedicate some space in your home and create your own little studio. Roll out your mat. Best would be a spot where it could stay, so it reminds you to practice. Moreover, it’s one obstacle less not needing to collect your stuff before getting started.
Make your area personal. I use an old nightstand as a little altar with a small Buddha, a Ganesha, some incense. Maybe that’s a bit too much for you, but you get the idea. Make it work for you, make it a nice place to return to.
More practical, make sure you get to move easily without not knocking anything over or hurting yourself in the midst of a passionate Sun Salutation.
2. Gather the essential tools.
It’s an illusion that the exact right tools will give your practice a boost. Only you, yourself can boost it. Still, start with some good essentials. There are a lot of online stores and moreover most yoga studios sell starter kits.
I’d say begin with a good mat; choose a color that’s not too bright that it hurts your eyes (after all, you’ll be upside down sometimes). Get something that’s comfortable sitting on for meditation. Then you’ll need a warm blanket to lie under at the end of your practice, being able to comfortably relax.
No need for a new outfit either. Wear loose clothes, made of soft fabrics. Your favorite hanging-out-on-the-couch-on-a-Sunday-afternoon-outfit is probably great for getting some fab yoga done.
3. Have some friendly discipline.
The hardest part is saved for last. Even though yoga and meditation are part of my daily routine now, I’d have to say that it still takes discipline to get on the mat. Some days more than others.
It’s the ambition “every day I will practice for at least one hour” that often makes you quit after a while. Start with only five minutes a day. Do one or two yoga poses. This might sound crazy; what’s five minutes after all?
Exactly—everyone’s got five minutes a day. It makes you actually do it. Build it up along the way. After a week, make it 10 minutes.
Pick a time of the day that works for you. Are mornings best or evenings? Once you have your routine, you’ll see that sometimes still it’s only five minutes, sometimes it’s a full hour. That’s ok. It’s more important to practice for a short amount of time a few times a week than once a week for three hours.
Don’t be too harsh on yourself either when you skip a day. That’s the friendly part. At the same time, don’t let it be an excuse to quit overall. “Every day is a good day to start again,” I was once told.
Now, when no one is telling you what to do it could feel a little weird. Am I doing it right, what pose is next? As long as you keep listening to what your body tells you, literally you can’t take a wrong turn. Use your breath.
Start for example in Mountain Pose, and always conclude in Savasana. In between, improvise, think of new postures and repeat whatever you feel like doing again, laugh if you feel funny or clumsy, and play your favorite music.
Afterwards, give yourself a compliment for doing it, because that’s all it takes: arriving at your mat.