How to Start a Home Yoga Practice
Starting a home yoga practice is one of the most challenging, but definitely one of the most rewarding ways to practice yoga. Practising yoga at home can seem daunting at first, especially if you aren’t an experienced practitioner.
Finding the motivation and dedication can be tough – keeping it going can be even tougher! My own journey to maintaining a regular took a little navigating – I definitely took a few wrong turns before realising I was holding the entire map upside down! Here I share the ways I’ve managed to keep up a regular home practice over the years.
Little and often
I think it’s easy to forget that you are not obligated to do an hour and half practice every single morning. If that’s not for you right now, that’s ok. If it’s never for you that’s ok too! Usually when we are just starting out with a home practice finding time can be a challenge. I believe it’s more beneficial to practice little and often than to do long practice now and again.
Practising little and often will help you maintain flexibility and strength. If you do a long practice once in a blue moon, there’s a chance that you might lose a little of that flexibility and strength over time. This means that you might need to work harder to gain it back and it will be more difficult to see your practice progress.
If you’re new to the idea of doing yoga at home aim for a shorter practice rather than a longer one, and make sure the amount of time you dedicate to your home practice is manageable. If you start off with a long practice it will be harder to stick to, especially if you lead a very busy lifestyle. One of the benefits of practising from home rather than going to a class is that you can adjust the length of time you practice to suit you. If you want to build up to a longer practice start with doing around 10 minutes and then each week lengthen that amount of time by 10 minutes or so.
Night owl, or early bird? Set a routine
When I first started to try to do a home yoga practice, I forced myself to get up super early and dragged myself to the mat because I believed that an early practice was the more ‘yogic’ thing to do. It was the midst of winter and it was freezing and dark in the morning which made it very difficult to get up early and practice yoga.
Here’s how my home practice at this time went: alarm goes off, I groan, drag myself groggily out of bed, rolled out my mat do a sun salutation and went back to bed to sleep some more. And that was if I was feeling particularly sprightly which, during January, was not often! I even roped my flatmate in to try and drag me out of bed.
After a few months of this struggle I decided that this approach wasn’t working for me, I wanted my practice to feel good not like a punishment. Instead, I started doing practice in the evening every night before I went to bed. This was a much gentler approach and my body thanked me for it. It didn’t feel like a struggle, it felt nourishing – the way a yoga practice is supposed to. When spring arrived, I began naturally waking up earlier in rhythm with the seasons and, eventually, I transitioned to an early morning practice.
Whether you’re a night owl or an early bird - it doesn’t matter when you practice, the most important thing is that your yoga practice feels right for you! Setting a routine will really help you to keep your home yoga practice going. Put aside a set amount of time each day that is dedicated to your practice – it doesn’t matter if this is 10 minutes or 1 hour, whatever you know you can make time for. Try to practice at the same time each day; this will help train your brain to recognise that this time is yoga time!
Finding motivation when we're feeling uninspired
Doing a home yoga practice is an amazing way to build up mental resilience and dedication. It’s also a tricky thing to maintain!
When we step on the mat there might be days where we’re feeling uninspired. We might even roll out our mat with no idea what we want to work on - what do you even do for a home yoga practice anyway? It's questions like these that can easily turn our motivation and stop us from practising at home.
Sometimes we might step on the mat with no idea what to even do for our practice. The great news is there are tonnes of amazing resources out there! From free flows on YouTube to yoga apps like Down dog, the internet, magazines and more – there’s plenty to keep you inspired! Check out my 30 minute beginner seasonal yoga flows for some ways to get moving in rhythm with the seasons.
No two practices are the same, each time we step on the mat is a unique experience and not all of these experiences will be the ground-breaking practice we might hope for. We don’t do the exact same thing every day so naturally our body will feel different each time we practice. Tune into this fact and communicate with your body to explore in a way that’s truly beneficial for you.
If you’re practising your own flow, try to incorporate a variety of poses that work different areas of the body. To have a balanced practice aim to include at least one standing posture, seated posture, backbend, forward fold, twist, and inversion. Keep it simple! You don’t have to attempt crazy, advanced postures, do poses that you feel comfortable in and that you know you can do safely.
Tap into a wealth of resources at your fingertips and draw from sequences from teachers who inspire you. Use this time to explore different styles and lengths of class to find what really gets you going.
Be kind to yourself
Sometimes we might be totally on it with a daily practice, other times our mat might be busy collecting dust from lack of use! Remember that you can always start again tomorrow. There is definitely a balance to be found between regular practice, overdoing it and procrastination! Sometimes your body may need a rest day or two but rather than feel guilty about it use the time to let your body recover and let your mind get fired up for your next practice.
Ultimately, you should have fun doing your home yoga practice. Your practice should look after your body and make you feel good!