The most common question I get asked by my yoga students is how to create a home practice.
They always seem daunted and concerned that they’ll forget a posture, make some crucial mistake in sequencing or topple over while doing a headstand.
My answer always begins with simplicity: breathe. When I create personal practices for students, I begin with the groundwork of creating a connection to their prana. I ask: What do you want to achieve out of your practice? Is it worth your life force energy? Make your intention worthy of the divinity within your spirit and physical practice.
I also emphasize the space. Most of us don’t have a large area at home to create our own yoga studio. What we can do, however, is honor the time that we dedicate to practice, telling loved ones that we’re dedicating a specific time slot to ourselves, even if it’s only 10 minutes and those 10 minutes take place on the kitchen floor.
Do something simple to begin your practice like lighting a candle, pinning up a photo, placing a flower, a mala or something with sentiment and positive energy on the top of your mat. This will create your own energy in the space, allowing your prana to flow freely. When your practice is finished, roll up your mat and remove the item or blow out the candle to conclude the sanctuary of the space.
If you seek healing or mental peace, start out with the foundation of deep breathing and meditation. Hip openers are a beautiful way to release what is within the fascia, but before releasing, access awareness. I heard a teacher once state it perfectly: “If your hips are feeling tight, simply become mindful of that. Notice it. Say to yourself, ‘I am experiencing tightness in my hips,’ and then let that be all—no judgement, no frustration. Just allow it to be how it is.”
The same process goes for a tough day. If you come to your mat with tears running down your face, recognize that and then validate it. “Tears are rolling down my face. I feel sadness.” Then let it be and practice breathing. Allow yourself to become fully aware of the presence of an emotion before trying to change it or let it go. This is why breath comes before any asana.
Your home practice is completely yours. It does not need to look, feel or sound like your favorite yoga teacher’s class. It should be unique and personal. After you’ve made a strong connection to your intention and breath, that is when asana moves in. Sun salutations are always a great opening sequence to create warmth and strength in the muscles, but be playful. It is your home, your time, your manifestation of yoga.
Be mindful, be playful, be compassionate and don’t forget to follow your breath.
Author: Barbara Leder
Editor: Evan Yerburgh