I recently had several people ask me how to create or improve their home yoga practice. This makes sense. It is cold (and often rainy) here in Brussels out and with short days when you wake up and it is dark, come home and it is dark it is difficult to find the motivation to head to a yoga studio. A home practice is also a great way to keep you keep your practice up when you day is busy and you can’t devote an hour or an hour and a half to class, plus the time it takes to get there and back. You can also use a home practice to establish a yoga or meditation routine, especially a morning or bedtime practice. If you practice firs thing in the morning you can practice in your PJs (I often do) and an evening practice means you can drift right from Savasanh to your bead. A home yoga practice isn’t without its challenges. One of the major challenges of creating a home practice is space. Ideally, when you walk into a yoga studio you immediately start to relax. The lights are soft, it smells good, and maybe there are candles or essential oils. Even if you practice in a gym or community center, the space is typically quiet and the lights are low. This may not be the case in your home. Unless you are lucky enough to have your own yoga room you are likely practicing in a bedroom, living room, guest room or playroom. Just because you aren’t at the studio doesn’t mean you can’t create a soothing space.
1)The first thing to do is claim your space. In our old home, where I didn’t have a dedicated yoga space, I’d practice either in our living room or our balcony. My husband knew that first thing in the morning that is where I would be, and he would know this space was “mine” for the time.
2) Add a ritual to establish your yoga space. Roll out your yoga mat. Spray some room mist, diffuse essential oils or light some incense or candles. If you like music in your practice set up a special yoga playlist. Even if you don’t typically enjoy practicing to music you may want to set up some sounds (like chiming bells or waves) to establish your place and to cancel out outside noise.
If you don’t have a private space (or even if you do) a home yoga practice means there will likely be distractions during your yoga class. I’ve never had a dog lick me when I practice at a studio but if I am practicing with my door open at home, every time. Puddles hears the sound of “ohm” as “come” and she does every time, and if she sees me on the ground she assumes it is play time. While she has learned I won’ t give her attention and doesn’t stick around, she still tries almost every time. At first I would get annoyed but I’ve learned to embrace it. Try practicing mindfulness while there is a dog wiggling in your lap. And embrace the freedom when there is space, Chatarunga feels easy when I don’t have to balance myself over a dog! If you have children and they show interest in your yoga practice you can ask if they want to join you. Depending on their age it may not be the same practice but you have the chance to introduce them to yoga and the practice of mindfulness.
If something that can’t be ignored distracts you off your mat, when you are done, come back. Sit back down and refocus. You don’t need to be exactly where you were, just bring awareness back to your breath. When you are ready continue your physical practice.
One of the perks of practicing at a studio (or at my house) is all the props! The blocks, straps, bolsters etc. If you’ve practiced with me you know I love props! But they can be expensive. Unless you are planning a very regular home practice you don’t have to purchase all these toys. Rather you can use what you have around your house to make your own Prop cabinet!.
Instead of blocks, use a couple big books. We are bookworms so there are always numerous books lying around. One or 2 hardcover books work best.
Instead of a strap, use a scarf the belt from a rope or a regular belt. Just be aware the resistance may be different than what you are used to at a studio.
Instead of a bolster, use a couch pillow or another firm pillow. You want to make sure you use something firm so you are supported.
Instead of a blanket, use a blanket. This one was easy ☺
Instead of sand bags use bags or rice or grain. Just make sure they are sealed properly and aren’t too heavy.
Instead of eye pillows- use a folded scarf. You can even spray it with some infused essential oils.
Setting up a space for yourself is the first step in your home practice. Next week I will cover the “how”, with tips on the best way to design an effective practice you can do on your own.
I am now offering a "Home Body" Package Private Yoga Series, 3 Yoga sessions plus lots of personalized tips and resources to start or upgrade your home practice. Don't worry, the dog isn't part of the practice.