Yoga is called a practice for a reason. As with any other discipline, it takes consistency. Think about it: you wouldn’t eat healthy just once a week and expect to transform your health. Same with yoga. If you want to reap incredible benefits, the key is consistency.
It doesn’t have to be blood, sweat, and tears.
But you do need effort, dedication, and persistence to receive the benefits yoga has to offer. If you’re okay with just feeling blissed out after class once a week, that’s great too, but if you want to really dive in and experience sustained benefits – in other words, feeling the way you do after a class on a regular basis – then you need a consistent practice, which I define as four to times per week
However, with your busy life, getting to classes several nights a week might be a real challenge.
In that case, a home yoga practice is a great opportunity to get more time on the mat. It can supplement your classes, and you’ll notice that classes become more meaningful when you’re also practicing at home.
Most people become intimidated by this, and after teaching many students and clients how to develop a home yoga practice, I’ve narrowed down the three essential features of starting your own home yoga practice.
Here are the 3 Essentials for a Home Yoga Practice
1. Remember Why You Practice.
The hardest part is getting started, and you’re going to have to overcome resistance, excuses, and pure laziness to get on your mat. So we need to be clear on what will get you on your mat.
What motivates you to get to the mat? Is it because your body feels light and energized after practice? Because you feel less stressed? Because you’re much more compassionate with your loved ones and more patient with your children?
If you connect with your why; you’ll find more motivation to get to the mat. Don’t focus on the steps (such as I have to sweep the floor, change clothes, get out the mat, find the props, etc). Focus on the end results, how you’ll feel after your practice, and the sensations that keep you returning to the mat.
And soon you’ll be called to your mat, instead of having to drag yourself there.
2. It only Takes 10-20 Minutes.
Seriously. Sound too good to be true? I tell you this with absolute confidence because of my experience with students and clients. If you practice regularly (four to five times per week) for 10-20 minutes, you’ll compound the benefits you’re receiving from yoga.
Make it easy to succeed in your home yoga practice. Do a few shoulder openers after time at the computer. After your commute, do a few hip-openers. Stretch your hamstrings after exercise.
And celebrate each and every time you do yoga because it is adding up and your practice is changing you, your relationships, and the world.
3. Move with your Breath.
Another obstacle students face when beginning a home yoga practice is fear of injury or “not doing it right.” This is understandable, but we have to remember that yoga is a practice of self-inquiry. And without quiet time alone to practice, we’re missing a valuable opportunity to do the real work of yoga.
To stay safe, your ultimate alignment principle is to move with your breath. When I practice, I try to move with my breath so my breath guides my movement. Most injuries occur when the breath stops, usually in transition or while over-exerting.
One of the first things students often love about their home yoga practice is the feeling that their breath comes much more naturally and they are much more attuned with their breath during their home practice. This awareness not only makes the practice more safe, but also more effective, as a meaningful connection to your breath will greatly influence the quality of your practice.
Over they years of practice and teaching, I’ve realized that it doesn’t take much, but it take consistency. You don’t need to do a hard or intense practice, but you do need to practice, to keep imprinting the alignment, wisdom, and experience of yoga into the very fabric of your being, until you’re not just doing yoga, you’re being yoga.
About Alison Smith:
Alison Smith is a yoga teacher in Marin County, California, and creator of the Develop a Home Yoga Practice online course. For Alison, yoga is a powerful tool for harmonious living in the modern world. Her teaching is infused with passion and play as well as powerful technical knowledge. Visit her online resources for yoga videos, MP3s, home practice suggestions, and other great yoga resources. Follow her on Facebook and visit her on YouTube .
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