Practicing yoga at home is not like studio practice, and that can be a really great thing!
But it probably won’t all be smooth sailing either. Practicing at home also has its fair share of challenges.
When I train yoga teachers, one of the first things I do is to get them to adopt a home practice. Why? Because practicing at home on your own is an opportunity to deepen your relationship with yourself and with yoga in ways that can be empowering and life-changing.
For example, you need to tune into yourself and decide how best to attend to your body’s mental, physical and emotional needs, rather than doing what your yoga teacher decides you’re going to do on any given day. Committing to a regular home practice requires you to develop self-discipline and to self-nurturing.
I’ve compiled a list of my top 8 tips for (realistically) practicing yoga at home:
1) DELIGHT IN THE FACT THAT THERE’S NO SOCIAL PRESSURE.
If your tree pose falls and there’s no one there to see you fall, do you feel differently about it? I bet you do! When you practice at home alone, there is NO social pressure to keep up with anybody else in the room. This can be very freeing!
When I practice at home alone, I feel more inclined to listen to myself and less inclined to try to keep up – because there is no one to keep up with. It’s just you doing you.
2) ACCEPT THAT THERE WILL BE DISTRACTIONS.
Unlike a yoga studio, your home has a ton of distractions to draw you away from practice - laundry, dishes, doorbells, phones, etc. This is all part of the home practice experience. This is training for INTEGRATING practice into your everyday life.
It is easy to feel peaceful in the pristine quiet and serenity of a yoga studio. So, you might find that you are really good at zenning out in the yoga space and less good at it when at home. If you can only ever find peace when you’ve pushed everything in your life away, how useful is your practice really? Your yoga practice should help you do life better.
Practicing yoga at home is an opportunity to get good at practicing peacefulness, acceptance, contentment in a space that is not inherently peaceful. This is a HUGE step in your growth as a yoga practitioner.
3) WELCOME INTERRUPTIONS AS PART OF THE PRACTICE.
It is a well-documented fact that kids and pets do not care about your yoga mat until you are on it. Then suddenly everyone wants to get on your mat with you.
I say just go with it. Equanimity asks us to not try to grasp onto things or push them away; that we practice accepting what is. I have learned to just accept when my dog Dharma wants to get involved in my practice and incorporate her into it (as you’ll see when you start rooting around the online library. Check out Dharma’s cameo in the Restorative Inversions class). You can incorporate the kids into your practice.
Instead of getting annoyed, invite the unexpected onto your mat and make peace with it! You get better at what you practice. So, better to practice loving acceptance than to practice being annoyed!
4) YOU DO NOT NEED ANYTHING YOU DON’T ALREADY HAVE LYING AROUND THE HOUSE.
You don’t need to dress up in expensive ‘yoga pants’. “Yoga pants” are just pants that you wear to yoga. You can wear your pyjamas. You can wear your skivvies. Wear whatever makes you feel comfortable. Yoga is about how things FEEL rather than about how they LOOK.
And when you don’t feel like you’re being judged or watched by anyone else (or you don’t care) it can be incredibly liberating. This is your permission slip to not worry about how you look and to focus solely on the way practice makes you feel.
Raid your linen cupboard and use extra blankets and pillows for props. You can grab a belt out of your closet to use in lieu of a yoga strap. In the studio, I’ve got classes that show you how to use your chair, couch and kitchen countertops as yoga props.
5) YOUR PRACTICE PROBABLY WON’T LAST FOR 60-90 MINUTES.
Your home practice does not have to be the same length as a studio class in order for it to count. There is nothing magical about the length of time of a studio class. Studios need to keep schedules and pay staff for their time. That is why studio yoga classes are the length they are.
When you do yoga at home, you can practice for as little or as long as it takes for you to get what you need from your practice. Which brings me to my next point…
6) YOU CAN TAILOR YOUR PRACTICE TO YOUR EXACT NEEDS.
Maybe you really want to focus on your hips, but you only have 15 minutes. When you practice online, you can actually select a 15 minute hip class and just do that! Or maybe you want to lie down and have a nice long savasana at the end of an exhausting day. You can do that. Savasana only. You can tailor-make a practice to suit your needs. EVERY. SINGLE. TME.
7) YOU CAN’T BE LATE FOR CLASS, EVEN IF YOU TRY.
You can show up for practice whenever it is convenient for you. You can start at 2:18pm and and finish 16 minutes later...or anytime you feel like stopping. When you don’t need to schedule an hour to practice at the studio and an additional hour for commuting, that actually leaves more time in your life for yoga as well as the other things that matter, which means that you can practice with more …
When you do yoga at home you eliminate the commute and practice time required studio yoga requires. That means you can probably find the time to practice with more consistency. Consistent practice leads to change. If you consistently practice relaxing, you will become more relaxed. If you consistently work on your balance, flexibility or strength, you WILL get better at those things.
I’ll say it again: You don’t NEED to practice for 60+ minutes in order to reap the benefits of yoga (although you certainly CAN go for 60 minutes if you want to). To really maximize the benefits of practice, consistency is king!
So, there you have it
Amanda Tripp, Yoga/body nerd and woman of a 1000 opinions