Enjoying the comfort and security of practising yoga in a studio, under the gentle tutelage of an instructor, can become a refuge which some of us find it challenging to leave behind. Going to the studio is like walking into a sanctuary and not having to worry that its walls will be breached. This security gives us the liberty to focus on our inner growth and to search for that freedom within ourselves where we experience the peace and harmony of yoga.
The biggest barrier to home practise is creating the space and making it a motivational centre for our mind-body connection. We picture the studio we have come to love and seek to find that same mental reference inside our home; when the reality fails to meet the image, we let that disappointment over-ride the many benefits that home practise can bring us. Overcoming this negative precept requires a focus on what yoga does for us; yoga provides a gift of nourishment for the body, the mind and the soul. The interaction with this gift occurs on the mat between ourselves and the surface on which we practise. When the focus is on the gift and not the process, it helps us to seek the advantage of practising in private.
|“Inspiration comes from doing.”
The Benefits of Practising Yoga at Home
Home practise has benefits that deserve some contemplation and action. Yoga is a part of the day to which we look forward. The constant improvement we feel is an escape from the rest of the obligations we must fulfill. Practising at home does not require transportation or punctuality. You can follow your own routine, hold your favourite poses a little longer, adjust the temperature to suit your own body and spend as little or as long at it as you wish. You can participate more frequently and at the time of the day that is best suited to your own biology and other commitments. You can attempt challenging postures and repeat sequences that give YOU an energy boost. You can experience your own inner focus more deeply and expand your awareness in a more personal manner without feeling challenged by people who develop and intensify more readily than you do. You can respond to those constant changes in your body, mind and spirit as they arise and as you are able to accept them.
|“What I dream of is an art of balance.”
Pursuing these aspects of personal growth help you to establish a yoga practise that is distinctly you and from which you can easily respond to the unique needs of your body and mind on a particular day. Whether you are feeling stress, the beginning of a cold, muscle stiffness or a need to experience the pure joy of yoga, practising at home is your own yoga, not the instructor’s.
Finding that Space
Taking that final step should be approached with anticipation. Make a space for your mat and clear your timetable. Put the kids to bed and claim your area. Mute the phone and mentally check-out for the time.
Re-arrange your area so you have something that makes it meaningful, whether it is an inspiring picture, a new candle arrangement, a clear spot on the floor or a time of day when the light filters in through the window in a certain direction. Adding music that you find peaceful and that will mask any environmental distractions will create your own unique ambience.
Work out a time that you would like to practise. If you think it is going to be difficult, try starting with shorter periods and expand them as you solidify your space. Daily practise made up of shorter times holds more value than longer periods at the studio twice per week. Do one Sun Salutation and see how good it makes you feel. Let it carry you forward for more. Set goals for your body; practise and evolve.
Find a Home Yoga Teacher
Practising at home doesn’t mean you need to give up your studio time or become your own teacher right away. Adding home yoga practise to deepen the experience and add to the frequency of your search for harmony enriches your studio time. Experiencing different teachers adds to the evolution of making the yoga your own. Rent or borrow DVDs from the library for home use. Check out on-line sources and broaden your yoga horizon. The Yoga Zone Ultimate Collection is great and another favourite of mine is Seane Corn: Vinyasa Flow Yoga – The Body And Beyond – Session Two (Beginner II/Intermediate I). Seek out your resources and make more you. Yoga is your own personal journey. Become your own teacher.
Claim Your Space and Make it Yours
Practising requires a routine for clearing your space, beginning your practise and ending it with an inner focus. Whether you have 15 minutes or 2 hours, have a definite beginning and a reflective ending. Before starting your poses, relax your mind, prepare yourself mentally for the physical movements and calm your breath. When you are finished, spend a few minutes seeking inward focus and tuning in with the new changes you have just brought to your body.
Feel the new you. Once you have found yourself, you will want to go there again.
Yoga does not require a lot of equipment, however, there are a few things that can assist you in your practice by providing support and encouraging proper alignment. Here is a short list of the things that I use in my home practice.
Yoga Mat: A sticky yoga mat provides a non-slip surface which is quite helpful in certain poses where your feet can slide out. It also gives you some cushioning. Yoga mats come in all sorts of colors and materials (including some eco friendly options such as natural rubber) and a couple of different thicknesses, 1/8th and 1/4 inches. I have 2 mats as I like to double up sometimes. If you buy only one yoga prop, make it a mat.
Yoga Blocks: Yoga blocks allow you to move into certain poses more easily by adding a bit of height, in effect bringing the floor closer to you. You can get blocks made out of wood, cork or foam. Get two blocks of the same height (usually come in 3 or 4 inch heights).
Bolster: I was introduced to yoga bolsters this past year. After knee surgery, I practiced “legs up the wall pose” often and used the bolster underneath my lower back. Bolsters are very useul in restorative poses. They can be used to support your back or open your chest. I have a standard cylindrical bolster but some are rectangular.
Yoga Strap: Use a yoga strap to help in poses where you can’t reach your toes or touch your hands together. A strap can help you deepen the pose.
Blankets: Blankets are used to sit on, to provide support and to provide a bit of extra height in sitting postures. I have found that a folded blanket between the backs of my thighs and calves helps alleviate pressure I sometimes experience in my knee in certain poses such as Hero or Child’s pose.