Setting up a home-practice can be a little daunting at first, there are often quite a few distractions (like the fluff under the couch that you have never noticed before…) so here’s a few tips on how to begin:
1. Don’t pressure yourself.
Probably easy to say, but harder to do in our driven and competitive society. Nevertheless, it’s key to allow yourself to have no expectations of what a “good” yoga practice looks or feels like, and try to accept where you are each day — physically, mentally, emotionally and energetically — without judgement and independent of whether you are able to make it onto the mat or not that day. Ease the critical self-talk. Even the practice of transforming self-judgement into self-acceptance can have enormous benefits.
2. Create a dedicated space
You may be lucky enough to have a spare room that has been waiting to find a purpose, but all you really need is enough space for your mat (and enough space either side to stretch out your arms!). Ideally, if you can clear the clutter then this will help you clear the mind and minimise distractions. Turn off your phone and computer add a few house plants to clean the air and maybe some candles to set the ambience…
3. Use a set sequence or online class
This is where I come in! Once you have set the intention to practice and rolled out your mat, your mind can often go blank as to what actually happens next! It’s often easier at first to follow a pre-set sequence (such as the Ashtanga sequence) and once you are in the the habit of home practising, you can free-style a bit more. Or let me do the work =) Check out the Yoga Bradford online classes to find a class to suit your energy levels and mood (and scroll down for more info about current online classes available)
4. Function, not form
One of the glorious advantages of yoga at home is that you can totally let go! There are no teachers watching you, no other students to compare yourself with, just your body and your breath. This is where the magic happens. You can be curious and explore what feels good for you and your body. It doesn’t matter what the posture looks like, it’s what it feels like that’s important. Your private practice space allows you to experiment – you are your own best teacher =)
5. Start with some mindfulness/meditation/breathing & don’t skip Savasana!
Starting with some stillness is a great way to set and intention and calm the mind and to access the more subtle benefits of yoga. It allows you to find that subtle balance of effort and ease.
And after your practice…so you’re done with the yoga shapes and you have dinner to make…I mean what benefits are there from 5 minutes of lying on your carpet? AMPLE! Savasana is one of the most important parts of your practice. Taking the time to relax can have a profound effect on the body and mind and should never be missed. Whilst the postures are designed to warm, stimulate and up-regulate the nervous system, savasana is the down-regulator; shifting the nervous system from sympathetic (fight/flight/freeze) to parasympathetic (rest & digest) when the immune system and other essential systems are enhanced. Savasana is where the real quieting of the mind happens. In savasana, the mind can assimilate and integrate the effects of the physical postures and the nervous system can re-calibrate and re-set, leaving you feeling calm and at peace. Ideally if you have time, save at least 15 minutes for savasana (generally the rule is 5 mins for every 30 mins of physical postures) but anything is better than nothing. Set a timer on your phone or follow a guided savasana to help you settle and find peace.
6. Habits form out of repetition and environmental cues.
It might be helpful to formulate some kind of routine around your new practice: choosing a day/time combination when you know you have time to practice and sticking to that time. There is no right and wrong, the time maybe different each day. But remember, it may take a few weeks to several months for a new habit to stick — so be patient but consistent.