Forming a consistent home practice can be a challenge to say the least. I have often found myself quitting half way through, or skipping parts of the video I was watching, or (often) not making it onto my mat at all.
The motivation I have to practice, on my own, without a class, used to move in waves; there have been months where I wouldn’t miss a day, followed by weeks of drips and drabs, and then, barely there at all.
But I like to think that now, 6 years in, I understand myself and my relationship with my practice enough to know what works. I wanted to share that with you. And whilst I understand we are all very different, I hope that you might find at least one of the nine ideas below helpful.
ACKNOWLEDGE IT'S NOT A CLASS
I think sometimes hope to feel the same at home as we do in a studio, and when we don’t we get a little confused or feel a bit lost and so stop. Practicing on your own feels different to being in a room with others, but that is okay. I think when we acknowledge that, we are already on our way to being okay with it.
CREATE A SPACE
In the same way that your teacher probably sets up some candles and closes the door before class, it can be helpful to set the scene. This doesn’t mean you need a yoga room nor incense nor anything you haven’t got. It might be something as simple as lighting a candle to signify your practice has begun, or closing the door, or putting your phone on aeroplane mode, or asking your partner not to disturb you for half an hour.
I used to associate discipline with being well-behaved - but here I mean ‘loving discipline’. Disciple is keeping a promise to yourself; something we decide when we feel happy and clear. It’s doing the thing that will ultimately make us feel better, even when sometimes (in the short term) it might feel easier to do the opposite. I made myself a calendar and (like a kid and a star chart) have found checking off each day super helpful for this.
BREAK THE BARRIER
You know when you are on a run and the first 15 minutes feel like hell? And then you get into the rhythm of things and you lose yourself? I have often found that my home practice feels like that too. It is okay for this to feel hard. Trust it will come with time.
CREATE A ROUTINE
In the same way that we attend the same classes each week, schedule in your practice and show up. Create the space in your diary and in your mind for it. Make it as non-negotiable as attending the real thing feels.
If getting on your mat for an hour feel impossible allow yourself to start with 10/15/20 minutes. Be kind and compassionate. Much like you wouldn’t expect to be good at yoga the first few times you did it, self practice ALSO requires practice. Start small so you can create, feel and celebrate wins.
DON'T SKIP SAVASANA
I know it is easy to finish the physical part of the class and jump straight off your mat. But savasana gives you the time to take stock. It allows your to appreciate and be grateful for all your just did. It is proving to yourself you are allowed to have time for YOU and you are allowed to slow down. All which makes the next practice feel easier.
If you notice resistance cropping up can you journal on it? Where does it come from? Perhaps it is to do with the practice itself, maybe you don’t resonate with the teacher, or you want a class that challenges you more. Perhaps the feeling comes from allowing yourself to slow down when a few steps away is work, or, opposite, the TV and sofa. The better we can understand ourselves, the more we can work through this.
Ahimsa means non harm - to yourself and others. Be kind and have compassion for yourself as you figure this all out.