As life has changed a little (a lot!) for us all in recent months and we are spending the majority of our time at home I thought it would be good to give you some tips on how to start or build on your yoga practice at home.
While it is great to be able to practice online, whether with a live Zoom class or some of the amazing on-demand platforms out there, it is also a real gift to yourself to develop your own self-guided practice. Your own practice is a way to get to know your body, your mind, your breath and yourself better. It will not only improve your physical and mental health, but it often allows you to get more from classes when you attend them. A personal practice gives you understanding, insight and confidence in your own abilities.
Often we don’t begin because we feel like we need to be good at something before we can start, but taking those first steps to establish a home practice is all you need. Even if you only get on your mat for 5 mins a day for a quick stretch or just to lie quietly, you are practicing yoga and will benefit from the space it provides.
So, where to begin?
A mat and some props will see you a long way in your practice, but even they aren’t strictly essential.
While a mat can provide not only a physical support but create the mental connection to your practice, you don’t necessarily need one to begin with, or at least not anything fancy.
A towel or blanket serve as a place to practice or just the ground beneath you. However, mats are relatively inexpensive nowadays and you do not need to spend a lot of money to practice yoga. I practiced for many, many years on a mat that cost £7 and it never let me down!
I will do a separate blog on the mats I recommend but whatever you have already will be just perfect.
Blocks, blankets, straps and bolsters are all a nice addition to your practice but are certainly not essential. You will have things around the house that will serve the same purpose. For blocks, sturdy books or tins can be used in their place, a belt or scarf can be used as a strap and bed pillows as a bolster.
You can then begin to invest in the things that you need when you feel it is time.
In an ideal world we would all be able to create a dedicated space for our practice where everything was set up and ready to go whenever we need it. Unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world, so we have to make the most of what we do have. All you need is somewhere quiet, as distraction free as possible with enough space to stretch out.
You will most likely have to work around somethings like proximity to walls, radiators etc but these are things to overcome rather than prevent you from practicing. Rolling out their mat by their bed morning or night is what works for some people, and others use their living room, kitchen or hall.
Try different locations and see what works best for you.
(FYI you can also do yoga in bed, whether that be a morning stretch or an evening wind down, it’s all possible).
This is often the thing that holds us back most. We use time as an excuse not to start things. How often have you found yourself saying, “I just don’t have an hour to practice every day!” or something very similar. Well, I’m about to blow through those excuses – you don’t need to practice for an hour or even every day.
Can you find 5 or 10 minutes a few times a week? That’s all you need to start with. Just make the commitment to get on your mat and do what feels good.
Some days you will want a plan and some days you should just play. It is good motivation to decide on a few opening postures like Surya Namaskar A to begin with and then allow yourself to move how your body wants. And it can also be nice just to start sitting, breathing and see what feels tense & tight, then move to eases that. Trust that your body knows what it needs, and remember this will all get easier with time.
The more you practice, the more you will get from the practice. You can build on things that you have done in classes or just freestyle. As your practice develops you might plan more intricately and have postures you wish to work on, but let that come with time.
No pressure, just feel.
Always ease yourself in gently and never push your body to pain. No pain, no pinching, no pushing.
If you come to your edge, don’t go through it. Give your body some space and time there to settle and you may be able to go deeper, and if not, sit with that and work on acceptance.
Yoga is not just about the shapes we make with our body. We are stretching out more than our hamstrings when we get on our mat. Show yourself kindness, compassion and patience, put your wellbeing above the need to get anywhere physically and you will get so much more from your time on your mat.
Overall just remember that your practice should be something you enjoy, not just another thing to add to the list. Give yourself time to build a routine around it, be disciplined where you need to be but don’t get too rigid. No beating yourself up, physically or mentally.
Ps. If you’d like to share a practice with me, you can find class information and how book here.