I saw the most progress in my yoga practice when I practiced at home, alone. When there was no one there to watch me I discovered who I really was in relation to yoga and I found out what this practice really was to me. When you face difficult poses without the guidance of a teacher to support your body, you are forced to find a way to make even what feels impossible work.
Yoga really became an introspective journey of self-exploration after I got established as a home yoga practitioner. There are common mistakes that many students make when they’re trying to set up a regular home yoga practice. I faced many of them and I’m sharing some of my self-sabotaging moments with you so that you can hopefully avoid them.
If you stand on your mat and have to ask yourself the question—what shall I practice?—you will have a harder time actually practicing. When you spend valuable mental resources just deciding on what to practice rather than on actually practicing, you can end up exhausted before you start. To alleviate that, try this. Instead of waiting until you’re on your yoga mat to decide what to practice, have a set routine that you do every day. If you practice Ashtanga Yoga then this is already there for you in the repetition of the same series of poses every day. But, if you’re looking to establish a home yoga practice with the support of online videos, that’s something else. Set time aside on Sundays to choose one video that you’ll practice for the week and then practice with that video every day for the whole week. So many people want something new each time they get on their mats. But if you only do a routine once you won’t give it time to integrate. Having a set routine helps you get better at that routine. Repeating the same thing over and over with intelligence targeted for improvement is the definition of practice. There are studies that show that reconsuming content relaxes the nervous system. Just think about watching a rerun of your old favorite show. If you cannot stand to do the same class every day, then try setting a playlist for one week of practice and repeating that week of practice for four weeks. At Omstars, we create playlists of the week to help guide students through their yoga journey.
Let’s face it, being home is distracting. Between laundry, dishes, dust, and the mail, there is always something to do. Turn off messages apps and disable your phone function while practicing. If you use an online video streaming service to guide your practice, try setting the phone or device to WiFi only and quitting your messaging apps. That way you won’t get interrupted by phone calls during your practice. Don’t feel like you have to answer the door for every package that arrives. Some deliveries requires a signature, but most parcels can be left at your door. If you notice dust in the corners make a note of it, but don’t stop your practice to start cleaning. If you hear the ding of the washing machine, avoid the temptation to get off your mat and put the clothes in the dryer.
Choosing your yoga clothes first thing in the morning can be daunting and lead to distraction. Lay out your yoga clothes the night before and place them by your bed. Then, the moment you get up out of bed put on your yoga clothes. If you like to shower first thing in the morning, they place your yoga clothes next to the shower so they are ready for you. Studies show that once you’re wearing exercise clothes you are much more likely to actually just do the activity. Similarly, unroll your mat. If you can in fact keep the mat unrolled in a permanent place that’s even better. But if not, then unroll the mat as soon as possible and go stand on the yoga mat in your clothes. At some moment the practice will simply start happening.
I know the yoga dogma says don’t eat before practice. This works well if you can get on your mat within an hour or two after waking up. But, if you’re a parent who has to shuttle kids to school before getting on your mat it can be hours between when you wake up until when you get on your mat. Trying not to eat before practice can lower your blood sugar and make your body too hungry to practice properly. The solution? Eat a small, healthy breakfast early in the morning that will be digested before you get on your mat later in the day.
Going it Alone
As a home yoga practitioner you may feel like island on your own. Your family may or may not support your decision to get on the mat from the beginning. Connecting with yogis in a virtual community can be a big support. Whether you decide to join a yoga challenge or get involved in some of the thriving online communities built around certain yoga channels or just cultivate a few friendships with fellow yogis that inspire you, building relationships in your yoga world means a lot. When a friend leaves a positive comment on your post it motivates you to keep going. Similarly, checking in with fellow yogis that you find inspirational can keep you motivated. Remember, it’s not about comparison and competition but genuine connection and community.
What other obstacles do you face in your home yoga practice? Share them below!
By Kino MacGregor
Kino MacGregor is a world renowned Ashtanga Yoga teacher, the author of several yoga inspired books, including The Yogi Assignment, and founder of OmStars.com. Practice the Ashtanga Yoga Full Primary Series online with Kino to get started on your journey today.