I have had a home yoga practice for the past 6 years. In this time I have been there, tried that.
Having a successful home yoga practice can be very challenging as it’s up to you to find the motivation to commit to a daily practice, as much as you may love it!
Somehow it is very challenging to find the motivation to keep up a daily ritual that actually makes you feel energized and alive and that only takes anything from 15 minutes to even up to 90 minutes.
I am the first to admit that I love practicing yoga in a room full of people.
And yet, there are many benefits to a home practice, one of which being that it’s just you and your breath flowing through your practice. Lethargy and loneliness are your main obstacles to tackle.
The main reason people choose to do a home practice may be because there are no yoga teachers near you or perhaps you actually prefer practicing yoga alone.
Whether a home practice is your option or not, here are my simple tips for a successful home yoga practice.
Create a yoga practice space
Find a space that is spacious enough to fit your yoga mat. You ideally want it to feel inviting and clutter-free to minimize any distractions. This space can be as small as it may be. Naturally, use more space if you can! You could also add a candle or a piece of artwork to make it more special.
Additionally, where possible, try to remove any distractions, especially mobile phones. Move them to another room for the duration of your practice. Or at least turn it on flight mode or put it on silent so as to minimize distractions.
Create a routine
Having a set time of the day for your yoga practice will help make it part of your lifestyle. Whether you choose to practice in the morning, during the day or in the evening, by having a routine and sticking to it, you will have more chances of creating a successful home yoga practice.
Something that could help is to stick to the same routine you would have when you practice at your studio. This, of course, applies to those who are also able to practice in a studio.
Research has shown that by practicing 2 to 3 times a week we are more likely going to see changes in our strength and flexibility. This means that we really do need to be consistent in order to see results. And in fact, by being consistent it really does become easier to get on your mat every day.
A yoga practice can be anything from a 15-minute short flow to a long 90-minute session. And so think of how much your practice could change and evolve if you were to practice consistently.
Use YouTube yoga classes
There are hundreds if not thousands of free yoga YouTube videos to follow. These are for complete yoga beginners to more advanced practitioners. With a little research, you are likely to easily find videos for all levels and tutorials on almost all yoga poses.
These yoga videos may range from just 5 minutes to over an hour long. They may be soft yin yoga practices or more dynamic vinyasa flow classes. There really is something for everyone.
If you are looking for inspiration on yoga teachers or yoga classes on YouTube, you may like my article: The 10 Best & Most Loved Yoga Videos On YouTube in 2020
Promise yourself a minimum practice each day
Ideally, you may want to have a daily yoga practice. This may involve just a few minutes each day on your mat breathing, moving, or meditating. Keeping a consistent practice really is the key to making your practice a routine. And so try to set a minimum time that you are able to commit to your mat.
Most beginners who come to my yoga studio start off with 2 classes a week. I then tell them thet they themselves will get to see if that is wnough or if they want to come to classes fore often.
With time you may see that your body and mind start craving a more frequency yoga practice. But that is entirely up to you! And so if even just once a week is all you want to commit to your yoga practice, you may find my article of interest: Is Doing Yoga Once A Week Enough?
Prioritize your practice
A consistent yoga practice can do wonders for the body and more importantly to the mind. We tend to get lost in our daily lives and forget to prioritize our needs until it is sometimes too late. And so try to put yourself first, and with that, try to put your yoga practice first.
When you practice yoga once a week, you change your mind. When you practice yoga twice a week you change your body. When you practice yoga every day it will change your life.
Stress seems to be one of the main reasons that come to yoga. And so if you would like to find out about how a consistent yoga can help reduce stress, read my article: 12 Reasons Yoga Is Calming & How It Reduces Stress (Science-Based)
Take the time to sit and be still
In a word that glorifies busy, it can seem very difficult to just sit still and breathe. And yet, it may do wonders to your mind and ultimately to your life. Our yoga practice doesn’t have to be a fancy asana practice. It can just be us finding some time each day to simply sit and be present.
If you are finding yoga challenging or are a yoga beginner and don’t know where to start, you may find this article useful: Why Yoga Is So Hard & My Favourite 15 Tips For Beginners
Be flexible with the duration
Your yoga practice can be as long as you want it to be. It can be a quiet, short, and simple breathing sequence, or it can be a 90 strong, flowy, and sweaty vinyasa flow practice. It really is up to you! A home yoga practice is a time for you to become your own teacher.
And so your practice can last 90 minutes every day. Or, it can last 15 minutes one day, 30 minutes another and 45 the next. It is up to you.
As an Ashtanga yoga practitioner, I remember being surprised to find out that we can actually adjust the length of the practice. Even of Ashtanga yoga which is a set sequence of poses.
It was when I was going through David Swenson’s book Ashtanga Yoga – The Practice Manual. At the end of his book, he has the Short Forms as names it, with 3 short forms of practice, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, and 45-minute versions of the Ashtanga yoga practice.
He went on to explain the benefits of creating shorter practices:
Take pleasure in your practice. It is good to finish a session and be looking forward to the next one, rather than making our practice so difficult that we create a loathsome duty of it.David Swenson, Ashtanga Yoga – The Practice Manual
Travel to a teacher
Traveling to a teacher can really help us and our practice. It helps us find the motivation we may be needed, it helps us fine-tune elements of the practice we may need help with, it helps us address and correct any bad habits we may have gained and it also helps us connect with a community.
I practice alone and make a point of traveling to my teachers once a year. I have three teachers that I absolutely love and feel lucky to have guided me along my Ashtanga journey.
My teachers are:
- Sharath Jois, Mysore, India
- Matthew Sweeney, Bali, Indonesia
- Kia Neddermier, Paris, France
When I can I travel to them and as they are all very different teachers and have a very different approach to the practice, I feel I get a well rounded ‘calibration’ form each trip to them.
Use the resources around you well
Nowadays we have so much access to incredible yoga books and videos. With the click of a button, we can have the latest bestseller right on our kindle. And so with so much incredible information out there, it can be overwhelming and yet very exciting to think of all the possibilities.
One thing I love is to collect yoga books. There is just something about finding out how other teachers have processed information or experienced situations, or what paths they followed on the yoga journey and what thoughts they then choose to share
If you are interesting on finding out my recommended yoga books, have a look here: 25 Of The Best Yoga Books Every Yogi Will Love
Get creative with yoga props
In the Ashtanga yoga world, some of the more traditional teachers don’t use props. And yet, at home, you are your own teacher so you can use them to your advantage and really tap into things that you may be struggling with. Just try to not disrupt the flow of the practice too much.
Yoga props include:
- Blocks, which may be used to help with your jump backs
- Straps, which may be used to help hold your leg in Uttitha Hasta Padangustasana (the first balancing pose)
- Yoga wheels, which may be used to open up your back and prepare for backbends.
For a list of my recommended equipment for home practitioners check out this article: Ashtanga Yoga Equipment And Accessories (Beginners, Home and Travel)
Find time to study
By studying more about yoga, you will begin to understand the deeper parts and intentions of the practice. This will make it easier for you to understand how it works, which in turn will give you the motivation you may be needing to carry on and form a consistent practice.
Earlier in the list, I gave my yoga book recommendations and so if you would like to find out about Ashtanga yoga specifically, have a look at this article: The 23 Best Ashtanga Yoga Books 2020 (Beginners & Home Practitioners)
Be smart about what you practice
There are many types of yoga. These can range from the calming yin yoga to the gentle Hatha yoga, to the more dynamic Ashtanga yoga and Vinyasa yoga practices. It is worth trying them all out to see what you prefer. And so at home you get to pick and choose and practice what you like.
For more information on the different types of yoga have a look at my article: Beginner’s Guide To The Popular Types Of Yoga And Their Benefits
If there is a yoga studio near you, it is worth trying out differnet classes, even if you do end up practiceing at home. This will give you an idea of each type of yoga.
And then at home, you can practice a more dynamic class when your energy levels are high and perhaps a more gently Yin yoga class when you feel like a calm and grounding yoga class.
Be more flexible about your practice
Being more flexible about the practice means playing around with it more and figuring out what works best for you. For example one day you want to more on backbends and on others you may want to work more on inversions. It is your practice so do what feels right to you.
If it feels right to focus on key elements of the practice on certain days, then go for that.
For example, I have lately found myself wanting to focus a lot on core building and so I tailor my yoga practice around that by adding many plank poses.
Use variety, allow yourself the freedom to mix things upon some days get creative, for example, place emphasis on a category of asanas (back or forward bends), stay longer in your postures, do fewer asanas, or go faster and do more asanas.David Garrigues
There really is no right and wrong. Just what is right for you in that given moment in time.
Be kind to yourself
Very often we find ourselves having an internal dialogue during our practice. More often than not it is negative thoughts about ourselves and about our practice. So imagine what someone you respect and admire would say to you to help motivate you to carry on.
And so a key part of a home yoga practice is talking yourself into doing your practice, and then keeping it going.
And in all of that feel proud of yourself for even just stepping on to the mat and making that commitment.
And change the voice in your head to one that is your biggest fan, your cheerleader, there to cheer you on this journey.
Take baby steps
Taking baby steps is very important especially for yoga beginners. It is very easy to get overwhelmed by all the poses and all the different elements of the yoga world. And so be sure to take baby steps and slowly but surely you will get where you want to go.
If you don’t have a teacher to guide you along the way be sure to follow along with a video tailor for beginners, as this will give you the foundations needed for this practice.
Here is helpful yoga video for beginners:
Listen to your body
In yoga, we try to listen to our bodies and respect our limitations. Try to listen to what you can do and work with that. This can be challenging for most beginners as it this is something we have probably never done before. With time it is something that is part of the journey.
And so when you step on your mat, try to take a few moments to focus on your breath. This will help give your body some space and time to relax into the postures, and see where it will take you.
Without a teacher around, it is up to us to tailor the practice to our needs. And so by listing I to your body and respecting our needs, you may, in fact, be surprised at how much you will be able to progress when you take the time to listen.
You may experience soreness in the beginning
As a yoga beginner, you may experience some soreness after your first yoga class. This is something completely normal. In yoga we are asking our bodies to move in ways it is not used to and we are asking our muscles to strengthen and lengthen in ways that they may find challenging.
This is important to point out. Ideally, we would be practicing with a teacher who is able to guide us and advise us on how to avoid injury. And so if a home yoga practice is the only method accessible, then it important to stay injury-free.
The once point to be concerned is if the pain does not go away or gets worse. Then consult with a doctor. Otherwise, a bit or a lot of muscle pain is completely normal.
With time we learn to distinguish pain from muscle stretching. And so pain tends to be sharp and something uncomfortable. On the other hand, muscle stretching may be slightly unpleasant but there may even be some pleasure hidden in the experience. A typical example is what we all tend to feel in Pidgeon pose.