Do you struggle with developing a home yoga practice? Having one can help you explore your relationship to your practice on a whole new level. Whilst it is recommended learning new asana's in the Ashtanga system is best done under the guidance of a teacher, practising those you have learned on your own allows you time to explore and connect with your practice under your own inner guidance. So I thought I would put together a few tips on developing a sometimes elusive home practice to help students to continue on with what they have learned.
- Think of the space in which you practice as sacred. Perhaps bring in some objects that have meaning to you, such as some crystals, items of precious metal, or photos and quotes that you find inspiring. You may simply like to light a candle or stick or incense to mark the symbolism of lighting your inner light through your practice, a simple practice such as this will allow you to more easily move into the present moment of stepping into your mat.
- If you do have the luxury of a spare room, spend sometime clearing away any clutter that may be housed within in it (that practice alone brings it's own benefits). Put items away in cupboards if possible, think of the room as having a clean and clear energy. If you don't have a spare room, be creative about ways in which you may be able to reconfigure your bedroom, or lounge room to allow enough space for you and your mat.
- If you don't have one already, get yourself a yoga mat! If you have the budget spend a little on a high quality mat that will last you some years. This mat is like your friend whom once you unroll it who shows you an insight into yourself and your physical and mental and spiritual state, perhaps you may like to treat is as a sacred item too, maybe even give it a name! Anything that allows you to connect with the mat and ultimately yourself.
- If you are planning to practice first thing in the morning, try to be in bed before 10.00pm and set your your alarm just as you would for coming into the studio for practice. It helps to keep a consistent time to practice each day, that way your body starts to drive the action of practice on a subconscious level, it knows that at 6.30am (or whenever is right for you) that that is the time for practice. It will help you to set the external conditions in place to make your practice happen.
- If you have small children or family members who are likely to wake up as you practice, try to allow this to become a part of your practice. Instead of clinging tightly to going through your full practice for the day, perhaps enough time to do a 5 rounds of the sun salutes is what your practice will be for the day. Sometimes my children bring up a mat along side me and join in with me, or just watch. Be present to what ever arises and try to not to get frustrated at having missed your full practice. It's a gift to a child to introduce them to yoga, and leading by positive example, so all is as it should be.
- For poses that you have difficulty getting into without the help of your teacher, do them as well as you can on your own, and stay connected to the breathe, and explore how it feels on your own. You may find this time alone with your practice allowing the asana's to unfold organically may deliver some little insights and gifts that you didn't think possible.
- And finally remember to stay connected to the breathe, explore and enjoy YOUR practice. The conditions under which it is done may fluctuate but the eternally connection to self is the essence of why we practice, if you can connect to moments of that, and raise your consciousness, then your daily practice is complete.
A home practice can be a challenge, but once you develop it, you will see it's riches and most likely never turn back.