This week, the Yoga Rant is exploring how to get started in a home practice. Next week check back for part II— why you should get started!
In my first years of yoga, I would never have dreamed of doing my own home practice. What did I know about yoga? I trusted my teacher and I wanted him around when I was practicing. As long as I could make it to a few classes a week, I was happy.
Do What You Can, Where You Can
After moving to a small town with no yoga, I still didn’t feel comfortable practicing on my own, for reasons that are a little unclear to me now. Just because I didn’t feel educated enough to guide myself through a practice, I accepted a yoga-free lifestyle. I’d noticed the sequencing patterns and heard the alignment instructions over and over, but I didn’t feel comfortable making my own plan. My yoga magazines arrived each month and I attempted to do the practices while reading the instructions off the page. That didn’t last long. I shunned the boring repetition of yoga videos. For months, I made do with the treadmill at my apartment complex and mat pilates classes. It wasn’t yoga but the movement felt important. Even if I wasn’t able to practice the way I wanted to, I still wanted to do something with my body. Despite my weird attitude toward home practice, I would find myself doing a pose or two at a time, just because I felt like it. I am prone to lower back tightness, and every so often, I would make my way to the living room floor for a child’s pose without really thinking about it. Now I see that desire and those spontaneous child’s pose moments as the seed of my home practice.
Forget Your Expectations
Looking back, I think the biggest obstacles I had were preconceived notions as to what a home practice is or should be (those notions still gets in my way on a regular basis). A home practice doesn’t have to be an exact replica of what your teacher does, or a two-hour cardio blast asana session. It can be whatever your body needs or wants to do. Over time, I learned all the best restoratives to address my difficult areas and that has become the basis of my home practice. I still don’t like videos or practicing from written instructions, but I have found a podcast I like and I use that when I’d rather not plan a detailed sequence for myself.
Give Yourself Time
If you’ve had a couple months of asana classes, you’re starting to know what poses work best for you. You can start there. Pick a space in your home and take a little time each day to start building your home practice. Begin with what you want to do, and keep an open mind. If you avoid judging your practice as it unfolds, you’ll be surprised at what happens on your mat.