In October of 2014, I attended a workshop that focused on developing a sustainable home yoga practice. There where students ranging from 19-67 years of age and we all created a semi-circle around our teacher. We listened intently for the secret of creating a vigorous, engaging yoga practice that would keep us busy for a lifetime. To my disappointment, there was no secret, no awe-inspiring idea which propelled me into a state of bliss. The information that followed was as analytical as a yogi could get. She said, “There are three steps to creating a home practice, step one, find a place, step two, find a time and step three, decide what to practice.”
As she spoke I frantically wrote down the steps attempting to capture the wisdom in each word. The lesson continued to offer helpful insights on overcoming roadblocks, how to develop the commitment to bring this lesson to fruition and how to reap the benefits in my own life. “Okay,” I thought, “Find a place…”
Step One: Find a place
This could be a place in your home, gym, or work. You may find it helpful to put inspiring objects in your space such as pictures, figures, or books.
If your space is limited, lay your mat beside your bed. You can store it underneath your bed when not practicing then it will be easily accessible morning, noon, or night.
If you have a guest bedroom or office, dedicate the area (when not in use) to your yoga practice.
At the gym
Rent a locker and store your yoga mat inside. This is a great practice for applying yoga to real life situations because of the distractions that exist in public places. What a great way to challenge your ability to stay in your body and in the moment!
This may not be reasonable for some, but for people with offices or other spaces that can be closed off to others, this can be an excellent option.
Store your mat in a coat closet or under the desk. During lunch, before or after work, shut the door (lock it if you must) turn off the fluorescent lights, turn on a desk lamp and start your practice.
Step Two: Find a time
In my opinion, this is the most challenging of the three steps. In our busy day-to-day lives, finding the time to practice is difficult, but one minute is all you need. If you make the commitment to practice for one minute a day, you will feel the benefits of yoga. This could be standing in Wide Legged Forward Fold for a minute, Child’s Pose for 8 breath cycles, or even a Warrior II while you’re waiting for your morning cup of coffee.
A mistake I can often make is thinking that my yoga practice has to or should take 30-40 minutes when in reality I have felt the benefits of a 3 minute session (which consisted of a Downward Facing Dog in the driveway while I waited for my niece to wake up from a nap). That being said, you may start with one minute and then find yourself building up to 10, 15, or 20. Just make the commitment to get on your mat each day. Once you are on your mat, set a timer (I use an app called Insight timer) and when your minute or 10 minutes is up, notice how the practice has changed your mental or physical self. Do you feel more relaxed, in tune, nourished? The important thing is giving time to yourself, wholly in mind, body, and spirit.
Step Three: Decide what to practice
Some basic rules include keeping it simple and remembering to breath. Using a timer can be helpful, but listen to your body. As a woman from Park City, Utah, once told me, “Don’t read the clock, read your energy level.”
Below are links to foundational poses which can be built upon when you become more comfortable in your own practice.
Putting it all together
When starting out it helped me greatly to follow a regimen. A yoga instructor, Cathie Caccia, told me how she started in her own daily practice; this has gotten me onto the mat every day for almost a year.
Set your timer for 14 minutes and practice the following poses:
2 minutes Downward Facing Dog
2 minutes Standing Forward Fold
8 minutes Sun Salutations
2 minutes Savasana
What I love about this sequence is having the flexibility to change any part of it depending on how my mind and body are feeling in the moment. Some mornings, I may start with two minutes of Reclined Big Toe Pose or Child’s Pose followed by Warrior III and Tree Pose. Then I will treat myself to 12 minutes of Savasana at the end; this is one of the many reasons I get on the mat each morning.
The evening following the workshop I went home and ambitiously cleared a space to permanently put my yoga mat. Step one, find a place, check! Step two, find a time, “I’ll practice right when I wake up” I told myself, check! Step three, Cathie’s 14 minute regimen, check!
During the past eleven months my home practice has grown to become an enriching, ever changing addition to my life. It has created space for me to reflect more fully on the miraculous, interconnected world in which we live.
I hope this helps you in creating your own home practice or re-invigorates you to continue. May you live with ease and joy.