Step 1: Have a home.
Step 2: Practice.
If only it were that simple, right?
I began a home practice in the Fall of 2015. It was a season birthed out of a necessity. I needed a home practice for two reasons:
1. Class times just weren’t conducive to my schedule. I’m a wife and a mom and I’m a yoga teacher. If I’m not teaching in the evenings, then I want to be home with my family. My business was also growing so I needed to be able to get on my mat when I could and then use the rest of that time to plan, record video, create and do admin work.
2. I wanted to learn more than what the teachers were offering. Yoga isn’t on every corner in Augusta, GA like it is in other places. We are, however, very fortunate to have some pretty amazing teachers, but they teach what they like and so far handstands and pressing and backbends aren’t it.
This blog isn’t about home practice being better than a class. Nothing compares to being in a room with a community of yogis moving and breathing and being together. And being led definitely has its perks. But practicing at home can take you deeper into your practice and ultimately into yourself if you stick with it.
Home practice to me wasn’t at my literal home, but a different kind of hOMe. Huge shout out to Frankie, the owner of hOMe Downtown, for allowing me to use her yoga studio. It was a place that catapulted my yoga practice and I am forever grateful.
I learned so much about myself during that time.
DISCIPLINE. I would never have considered myself a disciplined person but the desire to grow in my practice far outweighed my desire to stay the same. I wanted to learn how to do handstands and I wanted to learn new flows and new transitions. That desire carried me halfway, but the other half was discipline and knowing that once I got there, I wouldn’t regret it. I mean, have you ever regretted getting on your mat? Me either. Some days will require a little more effort to get there, and that’s where discipline comes in.
Doing something over and over and over while getting (seemingly) nowhere also requires discipline. For every solid handstand, there were at least 10 fails. But I’m telling you, with every taste of hang time and every little bit of forward progress, it only makes you hungry for more. So put more energy into the successes than you do the #yogafails. And even when it feels like you’re getting nowhere, you are cultivating discipline and perseverance and muscle memory. So keep at it.
FUN. This was the most exciting time for me and my yoga practice. I would blast Justin Timberlake or Hillsong and flow and then dance and flow some more. I would fall and laugh at myself and then dance it off. A playful relationship was organically created during this time on my mat. And like any relationship, when you're having fun, you wanna keep showing up. So if you're in a season where you're yoga practice is a little stale, spice it up with some fun music and a loosely structured practice with lots of dancing sprinkled in.
SUCCESS. I learned that with consistent practice, I can do anything! I learned how to PRESS INTO HANDSTANDand PIKE THROUGH during this time. There were things that I did that shocked even me! And every time I did, I would think “what else is possible?!?!” Don’t limit yourself. You can do more than you think you can!
When you create a home practice, you can give yourself exactly what you need that day. It wasn’t always fun and games for me. There were times when I rolled my mat out and just laid on blocks and cried. If that’s what you need, a home practice can give you just that. You can blast whatever music you want, practice whatever you want and do as many reps as you want. If you’re doing a podcast or video, you can choose your teacher and what type of practice serves you that day. Instead of looking at creating a home practice as intimidating, think of it as FREEDOM!
Here are some simple tips to get you started:
**All of this is done BEFORE your practice day**
Create a (realistic) schedule. Go ahead and pick out what days and time work best for you. And maybe don’t start out with 5 days a week for 2 hours. Do what you can REALISTICALLY do. If once a week for 20 minutes is where you're at right now, then start there. Now, I know what all of my Type B free spirited hippies are thinking…But you said FREEDOM, not planning! Save that free spiritedness for your mat. You have to make it there first and you have a higher chance of actually doing so if you schedule it out. If you don’t mentally plan for it, then your feelings might get in the way. Instead of not showing up and feeling disappointed, I want you to succeed and feel empowered!
Create your space! 1300 square feet + closed floor plan (I’m assuming that’s the opposite of open) + 3 other humans + 2 (at that time) dogs = 1 uninviting home. Yes, that sounds bratty and I am proud to say that my Type A self has since matured. I will totally roll my mat out in the kitchen or in the mat sized space in the living room and vinyasa my little heart out to dog hair and Spongebob, thank you very much. But that took some time. So if you’re not there yet, find somewhere to go. You don't need a lot of space or anything other than your yoga mat. Also, parks are free! And if you can’t go anywhere, suck it up, vacuum the dust bunnies off the floor, shove the laundry in another room for now and practice. I promise if you just get started, nothing else will matter.
Create your class. Most days, I wrote out what I wanted to do. That way I wouldn’t get distracted and I would force myself to “practice” and not “play” the whole time.
** My practice typically looked like this **
Child’s pose - Cat/Cat - DownDog - Ragdoll at the top of my mat - Extended Mountain - Mountain. 5 Sun As; 4 Sun Bs, 3 Dancing Warriors. Triangle - Pyramid - Pigeon. The rest of the time I would practice specific poses/drills that got me closer to whatever I was working on.
And if you’re like me, you have 1,849 things you want to work on, so Pick ONE to TWO things to work on at a time. If you don't’ know what to work on, learn your Sun Salutations. They’re a sequence of postures that includes flexibility, strength and gets your heart rate going. If I only a few minutes, that’s my Go-To!
If you’re going to do a podcast or video, browse through some teachers/flows and pick a few that you want to try. If you get halfway into it and you realize you don’t like it….finish it! There’s growth in that. If anything, you know what teacher/style you don’t like.
Don’t overthink it. This is for my Type As! lol If all you do is get on your mat and do my 6 minutes of Sun Salutations, then guess what, THAT’S a home practice! We get in our heads that a practice has to be at least an hour and it has to look a certain way to be considered a practice. #guilty No, my friend, that’s a class. THIS is a home practice. And you get to do whatever you want for how ever long you can.
So if you need to rekindle that relationship with your practice or you’re studio is closing because of the holidays, or you just don't like people, then roll your mat out and get moving! You can do it! Leave me a comment if you have any questions!
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