I'm delighted by this blog post by Misty Pittman. And you should be too, it's a wee bit lighter than the last two entries. ;) I seriously can't think of anything more worthwhile than starting your own yoga practice (at home). So roll out your mat, take a seat, savor three breaths and call it a practice....because it is. Enjoy my Friends. Thank you Misty for your encouraging ways and words. How cute is her lil dog?
Do you have a hOMe yoga practice? Have you been thinking about starting one? Maybe you recently read Sarah's article about starting a daily spiritual practice. Or maybe the shorter days and cooler evenings mean you are retreating at home more and skipping practice at the studio. Or maybe you just want to supplement your studio classes with some solo sessions at home, but you have no idea how to start.
If you’re like me, you will put it off and put it off and put it off, coming up with every excuse why you can't start a hOMe practice just yet. It took me years to establish a regular practice that I felt confident about, and all it took was 6 little words that Sharon shared in a workshop: "I practice yoga in my bathroom." It shattered all my reasons for why I wasn't ready to start.
Having a hOMe practice is a great way to deepen your connection with your body, mind, and spirit. And it's super easy. Here are my tips for creating a successful and fun yoga practice at home.
Excuse 1 - I don't know what to do.
Oh yes you do. Trust me. Start with one pose. Maybe it's your favorite pose, downward dog. Hold the pose, feel it in your body, breathe into it. Maybe you stop there. Or maybe your body instinctually wants to move to child's pose. Great, do that. Maybe you notice some stiffness in your back and realize that some cat/cows would feel fabulous. And then you remember that really cool pose your teacher taught last night and you decide to try it.
Don't worry about following a planned sequence, or about counterposes, or doing a Sun Salutation in perfect order. At home, there are no rules. Start with savasana if you want. Let your body guide you. It will tell you exactly what it needs if you take time to get quiet and listen.
If you are new to yoga or just don't want to have to think about your practice, there are hundreds of dvds and online videos to guide you. A couple of online resources that I personally love and use when I just want to move and not think about where I'm going are Yogaglo and Yogavibes. Both offer free trial periods, and their monthly rates are affordable. Both sites also offer a wide range of styles and offer a beginners section that breaks down individual poses in detail.
Excuse 2 - I don't have the time.
3 breaths. That's all the time you need. Not every practice needs to be a 75 minute sweat session. Step on your mat, strike a pose, hold it for 3 breaths. Or 5. Or 5 minutes. There is nothing that says your yoga practice has to be a certain length and has to include a set number of poses. Maybe the only thing you do all day is legs-up-the-wall before bed. Or you start your day with a reclined baddha konasana (bound angle) before you even get out of bed.
The only thing that matters is that you do it mindfully. Standing in tree pose while brushing your teeth is fun, but can you do it with a mindful awareness? Whether you spend 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours indulging in some yoga, the key is to allow yourself the gift of being fully present, letting go, and surrendering to the universe.
Excuse 3 - I don't have a special place in my home.
This was my favorite excuse every time I thought about starting a practice. I felt like my home practice needed to be highly personal and spiritual. I was sure that unless I had an altar, with burning incense, in a space that was large and beautiful, well then I certainly couldn't have a meaningful practice. I had to have my very own trendy yoga room. Cue the infamous 6 words... "I practice yoga in my bathroom.". I thought, if my yoga teacher, who is an expert at making spaces feel sacred and special could practice in her teeny, tiny bathroom, then by heck I could, too.
All you need is enough space for a yoga mat. It's nice to light candles, burn incense, beautify the space with pretty pictures and sacred mementos, but these are not necessary. When I finally started, I had reduced my “requirements” to just having privacy. So I practice in the bedroom. My view is a closet door. Sometimes there are distractions and these become a part of my practice. Let your yoga be a reflection of real life, a daily practice that fits in with your lifestyle, rather than a separate ritual that becomes hard to achieve on a daily basis.
Excuse 4 - I don't have any props.
Do you have a yoga mat? That's the only prop you need. Firm blankets (think quilts and heavy throws), small pillows (decorative couch pillows work well), towels, chairs, even stacked books can all be substitutes for bolsters, blocks, and straps. If using props helps make your yoga accessible, but you would rather not invest in them, get creative with what you have around the house.
And that's it. Pretty easy, eh? It's fabulous to soak up a class at a pretty studio, where a teacher expertly guides you through an uplifting 75 minute session. But it's also fabulous to make yoga accessible to yourself every day, even if it's only standing in mountain pose, in a teeny, tiny bathroom, palms together in front of your heart, inhaling and exhaling through 5 delicious breaths. It's profound. It's magical. It matters.
Make it fun, keep it simple, and stay present.
Thank you Misty. As the days get shorter and the temps drop lower, I will once again find myself rolling my yoga mat out in teeny tiny bathroom, taking a seat, and savoring my breath. And this sweet and simple little act will save me, over and over.