Sustainable Home PracticeNov 11, 2020
Next week will be the start of my tenth month of home practice. And like many of you, this will likely continue for a while longer.
Quarantine has revealed to me many of the things in my life that weren't truly sustainable for my practice, let alone my lifestyle. My travel schedule had gotten to be too much for me. It often left me more tired than it did fulfilled. This, of course, plays out in my practice and in the rest of my life.
Quarantine is also revealing to me the parts of my life that I value the most. Topping that list is my family, who I miss like crazy and am saddened not knowing when I'll see them again. I miss teaching in person every day and connecting with students. I miss my community - which I'm doing my best to recreate online. And of course my practice - which like you, provides me with routine, strength, and stability, in more ways than one.
Now, I'm no stranger to self practice, I did it for a decade. But even I am finding it hard to keep up motivation day after day of home practice and without any fun yoga trips or visits to a teacher on the horizon.
Practicing yoga at home can be hard, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. And let's be honest, yoga is hard no matter where you do it. The real issue isn't that yoga is too hard, or takes too much effort, or that something is wrong with you if you don't feel like practicing. The real issue is your judgement and expectations.
My number one tip for sustainable home practice is to let go of expectations and generate an attitude faith, trust, and joy. Rather than striving, focus on the positive, pleasant elements of each session.
With any spiritual practice, and yoga practice in particular, small measures repeated consistently produce huge results. The only failure in yoga is the failure to actually do the practice.
So, without further ado, here are the rest of my Home Practice Essentials:
Find a space. Having a dedicated space is helpful. You don’t have to dedicate an entire room to yoga (let’s face it - for us city dwellers, that wouldn’t be feasible). But clearing away some clutter and holding a corner of a room as a sacred yoga space can be helpful. Make sure the space feels special to you, so you can provide yourself with an opportunity to step out of your usual life and into a more spiritual realm.
Invest a little money into your home practice. Consider getting a statue of a deity or some incense so you can create an altar. Get whatever essentials you need in order to stay in the mindset that your home practice is real practice. And please, do yourself a favor and get the props you need. Constantly getting off your mat and looking for a book or pillow to sit on gets old and distracting. I link to props that I really like here.
Let go of the dos and don’ts. Try not to focus on what’s right or wrong - if you are doing yoga on your mat, it is right. Don’t judge your practice as being good or bad; just remember that, if you practiced, it was good. Plain and simple.
Turn inward. To do this you need to get rid of external distractions. Phone off. TV off. Notifications off. Anything that could distract you and pull you away from your mat needs to be turned off. Instead, tune into the sound of your breath and your own body.
Schedule time. The more consistent you can be with your practice, the better. Do your best to make your home practice a regular habit. The easiest way to do this can be to piggyback off something that’s already a part of your routine. Do you go running every day? Try doing yoga after you finish your run. Do you journal in the morning? Tack your yoga practice onto your journaling or meditating. Personally, I’ve found that piggybacking my meditation practice onto my asana practice has helped me gain consistency that I never had before with either.
Ambush your excuses. Do you have an excuse that keeps you off your mat? Are you too tired? Busy? Did you eat too much? Get clear on what your excuses are and make a plan of attack to ambush them and then cut them off before they can prevent you from practicing. For example, is the Internet your distraction that keeps you from your mat? Keep your computer closed, turn off the data on your phone. Go practice outside. You have to have the mindset that you are going to have a super practice and deny yourself the excuse that it won’t happen.
Start small. The most important thing is that you make it to your mat. This can be for five minutes or thirty. Extend to yourself the same compassion that you would extend to others, and love yourself for getting on your mat at all.
some days practice looks like this.
Find Community Maybe this is an online community or Facebook Group. Maybe it's a teacher who you practice with online or a friend you text after practice. Let's be honest, having someone to walk this path with not only makes it easier, but so much more fun.
One of the purposes of a yoga practice is to make us feel more human. Remember, you are not alone - not even when you practice at home. Whatever struggles you are facing with getting onto your mat, I can promise you someone else is having the same struggle. Trust the process of having doubts and know we’re all in it together. Take some comfort in knowing that, even when you practice on your own, you are part of a greater community.
Have you downloaded my Free Ashtanga Yoga Starter Kit and Masterclass? Try it! You'll get a 30 minute yoga class to help you deepen and develop your yoga practice, plus a starter kit with everything you need to get going on your yoga practice.
Registration opens next week for Ashtanga Central. Get on the waitlist at www.ashtangacentral.com
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