I am a huge advocate of practicing yoga at home, ideally daily. It is the single best way to experience more yoga glow throughout daily life and it’s waaaaay easier than you might think.
I have been practicing daily at home for over a decade and have worked with a wide range of yoga students on creating personalized, sustainable, and joyful daily home practices. Let me reassure you that if you have tried to practice at home, then didn’t keep it up or have been meaning to do it but haven’t yet started—you are SO not alone! You just might need a little mindset shift and some super practical tips.
I have three super-simple-anybody-can-do-them tips to set you up for a daily practice, but FIRST we have to remove two blocks that absolutely everyone I know stumbles over. Removing these blocks is essential, without this step, most of us will self sabotage. As well, the benefits of removing the blocks will reach far beyond your yoga practice.
These are the two very common blocks stopping yogis and yoginis from reaping the amazing benefits of a daily yoga home practice.
1. Lack of Confidence
Many people think the yoga drone is going to catch them doing stinky yoga on their own. It’s not. Keep it simple and exploratory. Home practice has nothing to do with how advanced your practice is. If you can do Cat-Cow for a few rounds of breath, you can have a home yoga practice. Start where you are, with what you have, and do what you can.
Just get on the mat with the intention to connect body and breath and you are 99% there. No pressure. Go inwards, answers are there, trust me. Don’t expect to remember an entire class sequence, there is no need for lots of analysis or over planning, lighten up, have an embodied experience, not a judgmental one. You just need you.
2. The Belief and Mentality That You Don’t Have (Enough) Time
Repeat after me, “I, (insert your name) have time.” Repeat it again and again and again in your head until it feels believable. This can take some people rather a long time to internalize, and that’s OK. You are doing yourself a huge favor by breaking down ‘time scarcity stories’.
The time scarcity story is a disempowering epidemic based on a false belief. Don’t succumb because it’s not true—it’s a story we have all managed to absorb, internalize, and then project onto our present moment experience and into our future. Our relationship with time needs to soften, we need to be friends again.
Start by beginning to notice how often a time scarcity story shows up in your head, things like, “I am never going to make this deadline,” “I’m running late,” “I wish I had more time, I have too much to do,” and so on…you know these stories.
Notice how they make you feel crappy, which is a sure sign you are out of alignment. Once you notice such a story coming up in your head, swap them for “I have enough time.” This will dramatically change your experience and—this may sound far-fetched, but hand on heart—this is what happens: time will accommodate you, time will soften. Play with this and see what happens. “I have time.”
So now that you know the two most common blocks to get rid of, you can finally start. But how, exactly?
3 Tips to Get You Started
1. If you don’t already have one, get yourself a yoga mat.
If you can’t buy one yet, choose a blanket or towel to practice on. There are now tons of choices for yoga mats, but my advice is to simply pick something you like the look of and spend what you want to spend. Maybe do a couple minutes research, but don’t labour over it and don’t think that the more expensive ones are always better.
I personally think color is important. Basic sticky mats are great and come in lots of colors. If eco-credentials are important to you, go for an eco mat like Manduka or a natural rubber or jute one. Just get one without getting hung up on finding the “perfect” one. Welcome the mat into your home, life, and practice, and just go from there.
A number of times in India I have been given an old towel to practice on and I still had a lovely, lovely practice. Yoga was traditionally practiced on grass, tiger skins, or thin cotton rugs (a cotton rug sprayed down with water with essential oils is a particularly delicious experience). So if you don’t have a mat, you can improvise, but maybe don’t kill a tiger…
2. Intention is Everything: A daily practice begins the night before.
Set yourself up the night before to practice first thing in the morning. Before you go to bed, roll out your mat, towel, rug, whatever. If you wear pjs, then choose something you can do yoga in. It’s great to go to bed with the intention to practice in the morning or at some point the next day. Make it suuuuuper easy to get on the mat in the morning. Your birthday suit is also great yoga outfit!
You can (but don’t need to) put some inspiring stuff by your mat, like a favourite book, crystal, essential oils, a nice journal, plant, scented candle…whatever feels peaceful and inspiring to you. It can be a nice treat and help draw you towards your mat.
I strongly encourage you to practice yoga in the morning. Research shows that you get the most gains when you practice in the morning and it just sets you up for a great day. If you miss the morning, you have the rest of the day…leave the mat out.
3. Smile and Trust
As soon as you stand, sit, or lay on your mat, put on a crazy big grin. Seriously, this works and it’s also sort of addictive. Get on it and smile.
Then check in with body, breath, and mind, and trust yourself and trust yoga. Everything will flow as it should from there. Sometimes you will spend exactly two minutes on the mat, maybe breathing the arms up and down a few times in Tadasana—and that totally counts and is awesome!
Other times, you may stay on your mat for ages—playing, enjoying, breathing, reconnecting, exploring, surprising yourself or returning to your mat a few times in one day. It’s ALL good; little and often is the best way to start a daily home yoga practice. Allow space for irregularity and exploration, and just enjoy meeting yourself there!
I hope these tips help you as they have helped me. Remember: you have time, you know what you need to know, take a minute to set yourself up for the next day, and step on the mat with a smile on your face and trust in your heart. Good luck! You can totally do this.