Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned practitioner, you’ll undoubtedly benefit from a home practice. In the comfort of your own home, you can truly be one with yourself. There’s no pressure, no need to feel self-conscious, and you can go at your own pace without feeling rushed or inadequate.
Your home practice can be a time to experiment with and explore new asana as well as a space for growth and increased awareness. Here are seven steps to cultivating a home yoga practice.
1. Start with a private lesson.
Taking private lessons is an excellent way to begin your yoga journey. These classes allow privacy for discussing any medical issues or questions you have that you may not want addressed in front of a group of students.
Your teacher will also give you one-on-one attention to ensure your proper alignment in every asana. This will help you get to know your own body to help prevent you from injuring yourself while practicing alone. This is also a wonderful time to begin building confidence in yourself and your own practice.
2. Progress to group classes.
In group classes, you’ll receive less personal instruction, but you’ll be able to start growing as an individual. Here, you can enter the yoga community and meet other practitioners who can provide wisdom, advice, and genuine friendship.
I suggest trying several different types of yoga. Once you find the one(s) you like the most, you’ll know which to take home with you. Wherever you find yourself, keep a teacher close by—this is a bond that can last a lifetime.
3. Set goals.
Having goals keeps you striving for something, which in turn will keep you motivated. However, you must keep your goals realistic. Not to say you shouldn’t strive for more advanced asana, but you may want to pass on Handstand if you’ve only been practicing a short while.
Start with asana that offer a small challenge to you before advancing. Another good goal is length of time. You may start with 15 to 20 minute sequences, then move on to practices that last an hour or more.
4. Prepare a space.
A sacred space is essential to a home practice. By choosing the same area to practice, you fill that space with an energy that will allow you to drop into your “yogi” mindset much quicker.
First, identify a quiet space. Even a corner in your bedroom will work. You’ll want to minimize as many distractions as possible. Turn off the TV, silence your phone (including vibration), even put a “Do not disturb” sign on your door. Allow yourself to have this space and time all to yourself.
You can also place special items here that help you stay centered. A chakra chart, an inspirational quote, or pictures of scenery that elicit a feeling of serenity are great for this purpose. Music can also help, especially instrumental, chanting, or music with very soft lyrics and voices.
5. Set aside time.
You may create the perfect space for your practice, but it won’t be any good if you never use it. Set aside time for yourself to enjoy practicing in the space you’ve created. Even a few Sun Salutations or a 5-minute breathing exercise can make a world of difference for your day.
6. Use different sources.
Doing the same sequence everyday can get you stuck in a rut very quickly. To avoid this, use different sources for your practices. There are several websites, blogs, magazines, and DVDs offering free sequences from top instructors.
Just be sure that any instruction you’re following is by a certified yoga instructor. Above all else, your safety is the most important thing.
7. Listen to your body.
In a home practice, the teacher isn’t there to tell you if you’re doing something wrong. You have to let your body do the teaching. By listening to your body, you can avoid unnecessary pain and injury.
Note, however that pain and discomfort are two different things. Taking your body to its edge is one thing, but pushing it past that line can be dangerous. Don’t be too hard on yourself—if you don’t get something right away, that’s okay! It’s all a part of the journey. Forgive yourself and try again tomorrow.
A home practice is a great way to further your yoga practice. Always look for new ways to challenge yourself while continuing to listen to your body when practicing at home. This will allow you to grow while staying healthy and safe.
Remember that teachers share their phone numbers and emails for a reason! Contact them with any concerns or questions regarding your practice, and they’ll be more than happy to help.