My morning yoga practice has taken a hit lately (and by lately, I mean for weeks now) so I really need to get this back on track. Not only does exercising first thing in the morning do wonders for your mood and increase your productivity for the day, but a daily yoga practice is key to progress.
Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned practitioner, you’ll definitely benefit from a home practice, so here are a few tips on how to establish one;
Prepare a space
I don’t know many people with a large spare room with bamboo flooring and floor to ceiling windows overlooking a scenic landscape, so you’ll be pleased to hear that even the corner of your bedroom will work for your practice.
Your space should simply be clean, free of clutter and quiet. Turn off your phone, no TV, if you require music and are using your phone turn it to flight mode. You can also place items here that will inspire you, be it a quote, some incense or a candle or a picture of that scenic view we all wish we could wake up to.
If you have a mad house with 2 kids, a partner and a dog, ensure that they know that this is your space and not to disturb you in it. I know you’re thinking it’ll never work, but persevere. Better still, try and get them involved; they’ll either be all for it, in which case – great! Or think you’re mad, which works too and they’ll leave you to it.
Personally, I have to have my mat rolled out permanently otherwise ‘out of sight, out of mind’ and I’ll not practice at all. If it’s out, I can feel it calling to me, or my guilt in abandoning it for another day… one of the two!
Set aside time
Even if it’s just 20 minutes, don’t allow anything else to come in the way of it. If you manage your day around having a cup of coffee before you leave the house, you can manage it around 20 minute practice before you jump in the shower in the morning or before bed.
I love a morning practice, first thing, leaving me raring to go and all fired up for the day ahead. But I also struggle to get out of bed! I did it for a whole month once, 6am practice, but I’ve just never gotten back into the habit.
So, find a time that works for you, perhaps play with a few options, and stick with it. I read somewhere that it takes 21 days to build a habit, so give it a try.
Ease the pressure
I am trained in Ashtanga Yoga, which is a style well known for being somewhat strict at times. In my training my teacher said ‘You must practice for at least an hour each morning at 4am’. This is crazy. For a start, most of us have jobs to go to, some of us have at least one child, or perhaps a dog to walk, feed and entertain.
So as seasoned Ashtanga Teacher David Swenson says (at the other end of the scale), just get on your mat. Get out of bed with the sole intention of standing on your mat. Then only commit to a short sequence, for example 3 Sun Salutation A, 3 B and the finishing sequence of the Primary Series. The chances are that once you’re on your mat and moving, you’ll want to continue, even if it’s only sticking a couple of extra forward bends and a tree pose on at the end. But if you don’t – that’s fine too. It’s YOUR practice, no one else’s. And any time spent on the mat at all is a great start as far as I’m concerned.
Get some variety
Whether you use DVDs or draw upon your experience and stick with the good old Primary Series, it’s always great to get a bit of a change. The internet is a wonderful tool for this with thousands of online videos with thousands of different teachers from all over the world you’re bound to find something that works for you and keeps things fresh and inspiring.
Take a class (or go private)
OK I know that this negates the point of this post but bear with me – going to a class with other people will not only ease your anxiety or boost your confidence, you’ll get proper adjustments (hopefully – look for a studio that will!) and guidance on alignment or areas of improvement for you. It can really kick start your progress and help you avoid injury.
If this thought terrifies you, why not look into hiring a private teacher to come to your home? This can be an expensive option but even just once a month to ‘fine tune’ your own practice can provide huge benefit. Some teachers (myself included) offer a small home group practice, where you can get a few friends involved and split the cost – this is exactly how I got started in yoga all together.
Either way – stick with it! If you can commit to a home practice even just a few times a week you’ll start to see progress in the areas you’re looking for (and everywhere else) in no time, I promise!