Tips for Developing a Home Practice
Recently I took one of those free online workshops from a business coach trying to lure me into paying a small fortune for one of his programs. I joined in on it out of curiosity as I start this new venture, hoping I could glean a bit of helpful information. There were lots of little surface level morsels but what I really grabbed onto is "teach from your personal experience". He encouraged us to really look at the experiences we've had in our lives and brainstorm the unique things we have the ability to bring to our teaching from these experiences. One of the first things and most pertinent to our collective experience right now that came to my mind was the development of my home practice.
Throughout my life yoga has come and gone. I have been consistently pulled to yoga but have inevitably let it slip aside during times when I was too busy, too stressed, lacked the space in my house, or didn't think it was worth it to even try when I would just be interrupted by one of my kids five or ten minutes into it. What I know well are the struggles of creating a home practice and the battles we fight in the modern world to carve out time for ourselves. We are pushed be more productive and more perfect. To make more money and do more things. To give more of ourselves; to our work, our families, our friends, and our communities. I had to learn the hard way that we can not give from an empty bucket.
Two years ago after working to give my all for years, I was struggling with heartbreak, resentment, fatigue, severe anxiety and digestive health issues. I knew something had to change and I returned to my yoga practice with more determination than ever. It has been over these two years that I have learned what to let go of and where to step up in order to make space for myself. My practice became my anchor; I have finally returned to a sense of ease in my day to day and found ways to maintain a sustainable home yoga practice. Getting here hasn't been easy but it has taught me a lot about myself and I have come up with some great strategies along the way. Since they work for me I thought I would share, maybe you can put them to use in your own way.
1) You Don't Have To Finish Your TO-DO List before you take time for yourself! If there is one thing I have learned about adulting it's that the to-do list NEVER gets any shorter. Step away, go to your mat or meditation cushion and show yourself some love! Your to-do list will still be there afterward and chances are the important things will still get done. You may even find that crossing those things off becomes easier and you move forward with more joy and less resistance.
2) Pick A Regular Time Of Day to go to your mat. Consider your regular routines and schedule then pencil in some time for your practice. For me this is in the mornings before my family really gets moving but it can be anytime of day that works for you. Even if you only have 5 minutes go sit on your mat. There are lots of practices that you can do in 5 minutes that you will experience benefits from. Aim to get onto your mat 5 days a week and when you are first starting out consider 3 days a success. If you have a week you don't make 3 days, give yourself grace and start again next week. Not meeting your goal one week does not mean automatic failure the next!
3) Pick 5 Favorite Yoga Poses. Write down some poses that you know well and like. Get really familiar with these poses so that when you are short on time you don't have to think about what your going to do when you get to your mat. Personally I like a short breath practice, a pose for my trouble area (we've all got one), a pose that feels nurturing and supportive, a strengthening pose and a heart opening pose. I can run through these poses in about 10 minutes if I need to but if I have more time I can also linger in them and take 20 minutes.
4) Let Go Of Any Expectations that you have about what your practice should look like. Every one of us is living a unique existence and every day is a new day. Let go of any ideas you have about what your practice needs to be, to "be successful" or considered "practice". The practice of yoga has many paths and contains more tools than most of us will ever use. If we go to our mat with a willingness to let our body and heart lead us to what we need today, we will pick up the tools we need in the moment. Your practice will not look like anyone else's because it's not supposed to.
5) Find A Regular Weekly Class that you can attend with consistency. This is SO helpful while you are trying to develop a home practice! Put this class on your schedule and make this time a priority. Attending a class that you enjoy, online or in person, will remind you weekly why you practice and and give you ideas to keep your home practice fresh. Do I make it absolutely every week? No, but I no longer let skipping become a pattern.
6) Ask For Support from those close to you. Tell your family, friends, kids, partner, etc. that you are trying to practice yoga consistently and let them know how they can support you. Get clear and specific with this, then create boundaries around your time and practice. This can be challenging at first but creating new expectations and patterns always is. For the Mommas out there- if your kids are small and still need you a lot, I have two tips for you. If you have a partner ask them for help so you can get time for yourself. If you don't have that option start sharing a little bit of the practice of yoga with your kids. Its amazing how early kids can start to see the value of it and when it becomes something they can connect with they will be more likely to give you those 10 uninterrupted minutes on the mat.
If after reading this you find that you have questions or are looking for more support creating your home practice I am offering free 30 minute zoom coaching sessions through March!