Have you ever thought about starting a home yoga practice?
The thought of establishing a home practice can seem a bit intimidating. With work, family, friends, and other ‘stuff’ taking up the majority of your time, penciling in some time to hit up the yoga studio on a semi-consistent basis can bring up feelings of stress and guilt.
Although going to a studio or gym for a yoga class is incredibly beneficial, there are also many positives to starting a practice at home.
Gym or studios classes give you the benefit of being under the watchful eye of your teacher, challenges you to interesting sequences and poses, and gives you the opportunity to receive incredible assists (my favourite!). The downside is that classes and memberships can be expensive, you have to work around the studios schedule, and group classes can make it difficult to put your ego aside.
I personally believe that having a balance between studio classes and a home practice is the way to go. I think it’s good and important to go to a class whenever you can schedule it in, but to make your home yoga your consistent practice.
A home practice is convenient, very cost effective, and can save you an enormous amount of time. There’s no need to worry about breaking the bank to maintain a consistent practice and no panicking around making it to class on time. It’s all in the comfort of your own home, on your own time, at your own pace. All you need is to hold yourself accountable, or find someone who will hold you accountable.
Another great aspect about a home practice is that you can completely focus on yourself. No need to worry about any eyes on you. You can release your ego completely (or at least start learning to) and build a strong awareness of your mind and body. Group classes come with a lot of distractions, and although it’s a great mental challenge to stay focused amidst all that, your home practice makes it simple to just move how you want to move and really pay attention to what you feel.
If establishing more consistency and frequency with your yoga practice is what you want to achieve, then starting a home practice may be the solution. Here are 5 simple steps to get you started.
Create Your Schedule
Many of the benefits of yoga come from consistency with your practice, but that doesn’t mean that you need to be practicing several times a week. Even consistently visiting your mat at home once a week is a great place to start building the habit. Eventually it may turn to 2 or 3 days, but start with a schedule you will be successful with.
Taking the time to properly schedule in your practice is an important step and can either make it or break it. Try to cover all your bases. What day works best for you? What days are you normally very busy? Are you a morning person? Are you an evening person? When do you feel most motivated?
This is one of the great things of a home practice, you can work around your schedule,, which means you’re not constrained by having to work around a studios schedule.
Once you’ve got a good understanding of your current schedule, determine how often you want to be practicing and for how long. Don’t stress too much over the length of your practice. One hour is great but so is 15 minutes and so is 5 minutes. Studies have actually shown that short 10 minute daily practices are actually more effective then taking a weekly 90-minute class.
Regardless of what your schedule looks like, don’t worry too much over the logistics, just do your best to pencil in yoga on a consistent day(s) and time.
Define Your Space
Find a welcoming area in your home that you can use as your dedicated yoga space. It doesn’t need to be fancy, just a space big enough to hold you and your mat will work perfectly fine.
Creating this space is important because it provides you with a physical space to practice, but more importantly, because it allows your intention to create a home practice to begin to root itself in your mind.
Seeing your space as you pass it by throughout the day is a gentle reminder of the commitment you made, and also that your mat is always just a couple of steps away.
As an extra little nudge, roll out your mat the night before your scheduled yoga so that your space is prepped and ready for you on yoga day.
Rethink Your Expectations
One of most intimidating factors about starting a home practice is the idea that it needs to be this impressive, perfectly sequenced, hour long practice. Don’t let that idea sabotage your efforts. Your practice can be as long or as short as you have time for, and can include as many or as little poses as you like. As long as you spend some mindful time on your mat, you are benefiting from your practice.
So throw away the idea that your home practice must look a certain way in order to truly qualify as ‘yoga’. One of the great things about life is that it’s unexpected and unpredictable, but unfortunately that doesn’t bode well when trying to keep up with a busy schedule. If you meant to practice for a half hour but only have time for 5 minutes before going to bed, then your practice that day can be 5 minutes just laying on your mat (or your bed!) with your legs up the wall, and yes, that’s still yoga as long as you’re doing it mindfully.
Understand Your Goals
Why are you practicing? Are you working towards something? Is there something you want to achieve?
It’s nice to feel purposeful, and having a goal in mind is a great way to keep yourself motivated. Even if it’s as simple as wanting to maintain a consistent practice because it makes you feel good. Knowing why you’re stepping onto your mat each time is important.
Make sure you’re clear on your intention for establishing a home practice and why you’re practicing yoga in general. Then, see if you make a habit of reminding yourself of your intention every time you step onto your mat.
It can even be helpful to set a milestone each week or month to check in and evaluate your success or bring yourself back on track.
Find Your Yoga
Now all that’s left is your actual physical practice. There are a ton of options available online or, if you’re feeling more adventurous, you can try freestyling on your mat. A simple Google or YouTube search of ‘online yoga classes’ brings up a lot of free or inexpensive options.
Some of my favourite online yoga sources are:
I’d also like to humbly mention my own online yoga platform. My platform consists of yoga practices designed specifically for athletes and is set to launch in early 2018. To stay informed on the launch please sign up here:
If you’re new to yoga or lack confidence in your ability to freestyle your own sequence, then the guidance of an instructor (whether it’s online or in person) is an excellent way to learn sequences and poses that you enjoy, gain confidence, and gain a better understanding of your body.
Once you start feeling a bit more confident, see how it feels to create your own practice. Based on poses you love, or sequences that have stuck in your mind, create a practice that feels comfortable and makes you feel good.
Creating your own practice can be very rewarding and allows you to tailor it to exactly what you’re craving. As you get more comfortable, it also opens up space in your mind to really ‘go in’ and focus on your mind, body, and breath. With no external distractions, like an instructors voice in a video, you can work on learning how to quiet the thoughts in your mind and remain present as you move through your sequence.
The key to establishing and maintaining a home yoga practice is making sure that it is something you look forward to and enjoy. Taking the time to follow through on the above 5 steps is a great starting point. Remember to move in a way that intuitively feels good, but also don’t shy away from in person or online classes that challenge you. That’s what guided classes are great for, getting you into those poses that we may avoid in our self-created practices, but that are so very beneficial. Plus, a guided class is also a great way to learn, explore, and broaden your horizons.