When your teacher asks you if practice at home what’s your answer? Most students get this guilty look on their face and sheepishly shake their head. Why don’t more students practice more consistently at home? The most common reasons I have heard are:
1. I just don’t know what to do for an entire hour or more.
2. I might do it wrong.
3. I just “don’t know what to do.”
4. I don’t want to do it by myself.
I have been teaching and practicing Yoga for over 18 years now. In the beginning, when it was all new, there was no doubt that going to classes was the way to go until I developed more confidence in the asanas and then in time it became easier. But even then, even after extensive teacher training 17 years ago, it has taken me YEARS to create a consistent home practice. It has only been in the last two years that it has finally become a non-negotiable part of my morning routine and self-care. After the last few years of consistency,
I’m sorry it took me so long.
How about we dissect the above excuses:
1. You don’t have to be on your mat an hour! Even if you just take five minutes to lie back and breathe it’s a victory! Maybe that’s where you start. Take a few minutes to simply focus on your breath. You will be surprised how fast the time goes by. As you take a moment to pause it gives you time to reflect and listen as to what may serve you in that moment. It doesn’t have to be any poses you’ve done in class. Just gently move in a way that feels good to you. Five minutes is better than none but I bet you’ll be surprised how long you end up staying on your mat. My practice is anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour and a half depending on the time I have and what I feel like doing. Be kind with yourself and just start somewhere.
2. There is no way to “do it wrong” if you are truly listening to your body and doing what feels good to you. If you are newer to yoga do the gentler poses on the floor either on your back, stomach or seated.
Keep it gentle and slow. Remember that this is a time for reflection and self-care, not a competition with yourself or anyone else. It’s only wrong if it hurts. Stop and do a different pose or movement or simply back off.
3. You will know what to do. It always surprises me that without any plan or any expectations I find exactly what I need for myself when I simply take the time to unroll my mat, breath and listen. I begin to move gently and just see where it takes me. The more consistent I have become with my home practice the more easily I am guided to exactly what I need in that moment. Trust that and just start somewhere.
4. There is something very powerful that happens on your mat when you practice on your own occasionally or regularly. For me, it is my refuge, my sanity and a time of deep reflection and nourishment that I can’t get in a classroom setting. I never had a moment when I regretted unrolling my mat at home. Just the opposite. I wonder why it took so long! After practicing consistently now for two years, I look forward to it each morning. I don’t have any hesitation nor do I make up any excuses as to why I can’t. I WANT to be there.
So what are the results you can look forward to when embracing a regular home practice?
- A day that goes more smoothly and if it doesn’t your practice will help you to stay grounded with the detours.
- An inner calm and peacefulness.
- You will create a deeper relationship with your intuition so that your choices are clear and concise.
- Your body will stay healthier with less injuries and more strength and flexibility.
- Deepen your spiritual connection.
- You will attune more deeply to your bodies needs and find it easier to turn down those junk food cravings.
- Reduce your stress levels.
- Actually get more done in your day.
- The answers you seek come without effort.
I hope these will motivate you to begin your own practice at home.
Unroll your mat and just start with 5 minutes of breathing. You will be surprised how you feel!