7 Ways to Maintain a Home Yoga Practice

[Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Lindsey Lewis, yoga teacher and life coach, founder of www.libreliving.com.]

Getting going can be the hardest part. Some mornings, like today, I’ve been up late the night before, man oh man my mind is all over the place, and I’m convinced my body is telling me to go back to bed. “Don’t you think another hour’s sleep would benefit you more than meditation and asana?”

On days like this, I can spend almost a quarter of my allotted morning practice time just sitting on my mat, debating with myself. “Go back to bed; it’s okay.” “Don’t you get off your mat; you know how much better you’ll feel after you do this.” Then I sit and try to plan my flow, “Hey, at least I’m thinking about doing it.”

This morning, from beneath the banter, a powerful idea, which I credit to Danielle LaPorte, bubbled up: Just start. Stop planning. Stop debating. Stop over -thinking. Just start. I began with neck rolls. I moved on, to sufi grinds. Cat-cow. Downward dog. Surya Namaskar A. Aaaah, here it is. My flow.

7 Ways to Maintain a Home Yoga Practice

1. Do what feels right for you, not what your social self might think you ‘should’ do. Honour your body, mind, and soul. Yoga teacher Mark Whitwell recommends just 7 minutes a day, and figures it’s easiest to fit in in the morning. I prefer a morning practice, too, since once my day really launches I’m likely to get caught up in prioritizing other things. Plus, I like the peaceful vibe and quietness of the early morning. What amount of time and time of day feels right for you? Start with something that feels totally manageable.

2. Do some asana. Surya Namaskar A can be a nice place to start, but once you get going and used to doing a morning practice, I’d invite you to take some long yogic breaths and then move into whatever poses or series of poses you feel called to.

3. A bit of meditation. Ancient yogis and modern swamis tell us that the main point of asana is to be able to sit in meditation. Moving and breathing helps us to stretch our muscles, ease aches and pains, and calm our mind—which is the whole point of yoga—which helps us sit in meditation. There are lots of ways to encourage meditation, or dhyana and most of them are based on dharana, concentration. One of the simplest things to concentrate on is your breath. Just notice: Inhaling. Exhaling.

4. Breathe first. Let your breath guide your asana practice. If you’re not breathing, you’re probably not being mindful. BUT, don’t beat yourself up if you notice you’ve lost your deep yogic breath. Compassion and love is what it’s all about.

5. Your body knows best. Stay aware of your whole body during your practice. We tend to pay more attention to areas that are reaching—like hands lifting in the air. Remember your feet, or your sit bones. Feel everything. Breathe into it.

6. Mindfulness. Pay attention to your thoughts during your practice. What are you thinking? How is this making you feel? How is this affecting your practice? Just watch, without judgment. Simply notice. Remember compassion and love.

7. Most of all, don’t judge yourself. It’s your practice. Compassionate curiosity and self-inquiry will bring more self-enlightenment than trying to align with any kind of dogma or rules set by other people—no matter how experience a yoga teacher they might be.

Off the Mat. For every project we want to do, every dream we have, every goal we want to achieve, there comes a point where we simply need to Just Start!

25 comments

  1. Thank you for this post. I have tried to start a regular home practice more than once, but I kept giving it up for a few extra minutes in bed. I know a morning practice would do my body and my mind a world of good, but the duvet is so inviting! I will have to try again, and be mindful of the tips you posted… sometimes it really is difficult to just start, isn’t it? But it can make all the difference.

  2. have been in weekly 2 times to class and now im encouraged to start working at home. i thought i needed teacher but i think i can do it..thank you

  3. One of my fellow Yoga instructors/friends introduced me to piano music by Matthew C. Shuman. She had been using in her class for awhile and said she received a great response from her students. So I downloaded some and incorporated it into my routines. GREAT stuff. Great feedback from my classes also. Thought I would pass it along, perhaps it will work for you as well!

    http://www.matthewcshuman.com

    iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/matthew-c.-shuman/id384778459

    Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005VW2SM0/?tag=dacuofyo-20

  4. LOVE this. I do an awful lot of thinking rather than doing in the morning: thinking about doing yoga, thinking about meditating, thinking about what I need to do when I get to work…it’s a time and energy waster. You are so right–don’t think, DO (!) Needed to hear this today. Thank you!

  5. I am an extreme fan of yoga and I recently incorporated this fitness bar into my routine called Fitryo Total Bar , that my friend recommended and it gives me double the workout. It is perfect for strength training and toning while doing yoga

  6. after a couple years trying to redifine myself physical i was at a stalemate, 3 months ago i started up with yoga class 2 days aweek. in this time i have lost 3 dress sizes , 2 bra sizes and feel better then when i was 30(i’m 50), this from what i thought of as a passive exercise has done more then a year of walking and diet modifications did..whoop whoo

  7. Really great post! Yoga is a terrific for releasing stress and losing weight and as a health practitioner, I haven’t met one person who does not have stress.

  8. I love the advice to do just 7 minutes a day. I get overwhelmed sometimes that my practice has to be an hour or longer and then I don’t practice at all because I don’t have time! 7 minutes is better than no minutes, though! Namaste.

  9. Great post. The discipline of self-practice can be challenging (in fact I just wrote a post today about that – http://www.lilablog.com ) but it’s a very rewarding thing. Yoga is such a gift because you really can do it anywhere, you don’t have to be at a studio to practice and even just 15 minutes can change your day in a positive way.

  10. Thank you – some of the difficulty lies in the forgetting to be compassionate and loving towards yourself – excactly! Making mistakes is the ‘so what’ 🙂

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