Home practice yoga

Cat jumping up for a toy
Image CC from cheezburger.com

Many people’s routines are disrupted over the summer months as we go on holidays, some classes may not be running, the lovely weather tempts us to the beach instead of the yoga mat etc etc. Some people end up missing their weekly yoga class and want to practice at home. Others are keen to start a yoga home practice but find it difficult to either know what to do, how long for, where, when etc.

I know this as lots of people say to me “oh, I really want to do some yoga at home but I never can find the time/know what to do/motivate myself etc”. I too spent many a year thinking I’d start a home practice. After borrowing Barbara Currie’s 10 Minute Yoga Workouts book from the library some years ago I finally decided just to set my alarm clock five minutes earlier in the morning. I started with just five minutes, then gradually added more so now I do around 20 minutes of stretches and some seated breathing each weekday morning.

I think of this as my ‘maintenance’ home practice, as without it I soon start to feel aches and pains. It’s not got flashy show-off postures in it, it’s not challenging, it’s just short, simple and done regularly. This could be your way towards establishing a home practice. If you know there are some things that it’s probably good for you to do every day e.g. some spine mobilising, or neck stretches or shoulder work, then choose a few simple stretches and start with them. Once you have got your habit established, you can look to expand it if you want.

Alongside the regular stuff, I also like to have my own yoga practice. This can vary from 30 minutes to an hour or more, but I have tried to identify one day a week when I will practice some physical yoga at home. What I do depends on how I’m feeling that day, what areas I would like to work on (hips, chest openers etc), and what else I’ve been doing e.g. the day after a long cycle ride my Mum and I focused on some hamstring stretches.

With this sort of home practice it’s very easy to always do the things you like, the things you’re good at, and not do the things you don’t like, which are invariably the things you need more of! Maybe your approach could be a fortnightly one whereby you do one session of your favourite things one week, and the next week you tackle those more challenging postures.

Sometimes it’s good to have a rough idea of what you’re going to be working on with some notes jotted down. Alternatively, if you’re stuck for ideas there are lots of websites with free yoga videos you can watch and do, ranging from 10 minutes sessions to an hour or longer, for example DoYogaWithMe.com, Yoga Journal and Ekhart Yoga. I have also uploaded quite a few handouts into Google Drive – there’s 5, 15 and 30 minute sessions, ones for specific areas e.g. backs, and also some morning and evening routines. You can download these handouts for free.

I personally think practising yoga at home is easier if you’ve got somewhere where you can be quiet and undisturbed (from phone calls, small children or hungry animals), but this Yoga Journal article debunks that and some of the other myths around a yoga home practice.

Also, don’t forget that yoga is not just the physical postures, it’s also about controlled breathing practices and meditation. You can practise mindfulness as you wash up! Your home practice might be 10 minutes of a specific pranayama breath work and meditation. So, now that you know it doesn’t have to be 1.5 hours, that you can use videos or handouts as a guide for what to do, and you can do it anywhere, what’s stopping you?!

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