The Joys of Home Practice

Years ago when I left Vancouver and my daily yoga practice with my teacher I was afraid that by moving to a small town where there were no yoga teachers and no yoga studio that I would lose my practice. I was an Ashtanga yogi then and so did a daily vinyasa practice that consisted of all of the Primary Series and the first part of the Second Series. I’ve never liked to practice too quickly so the whole thing took me close to two hours to complete and I had been trained to practice every day of the week except for Saturday, with days off when the moon was New or Full. When I first moved to Tofino I was working in a restaurant and my day shift started at 7:30m so in order to get there on time, and get my son to daycare, I needed to get up between 4:30 and 5am to get my practice in. In truth this was only a little bit earlier than I had needed to get up to get to the Mysore room in Vancouver so I simply rolled out of bed in Tofino, rolled out my mat, stood in Samastitih and chanted the Ashtanga yoga invocation just as if I was in the studio in Vancouver surrounded by the familiar faces of my friends. I didn’t let myself think about not practicing. I thought of my teacher in Vancouver who had to be done her own morning practice and be ready to start adjusting the students by 6:30 each morning. If she could do it then I would do it too.
Eventually my practice started shifting away from Ashtanga yoga but the discipline I learned from that system served me greatly in learning how to practice on my own. To this day I have a dedicated daily home practice that shifts in intensity and duration for each day of the week allowing me to get in a well-rounded practice of asana, meditation, and formal study. I have two days a week where I give myself two full hours on my mat where I work on my evolving edge in asana, and the other days I schedule in one to one and a half hours for simple vinyasa practice. I meditate at the end of each day and have a morning routine of breathwork and mantra. I make space for study in the afternoons or evenings depending on my teaching schedule. I have a schedule that reflects the importance I place on my practice sessions- it is as important to my well being as all the other responsibilities I have. I make space for practice not only because I am a yoga teacher but because when I practice I remember my highest intentions and am able to stay connected to them more easily throughout the day. I practice because it allows me to check in with my physical experience and thereby make choices based on what my body needs. And as I mentioned in an earlier post my practices create a sense of spaciousness and rhythm in my life that allows me to stay connected to the bigger picture and not get lost in the details.
Fact: Life has less ease and connection when I don’t make time to practice.
The biggest excuse I hear from yoga teachers and students for not practicing at home is not enough time. My advice is start small. Promise yourself you will get on your mat for just 10-15 minutes a day, you can get in at least a dozen sun salutations in that time, and you will feel amazing for having done it. Or treat yourself to one restorative pose per day- legs on the wall or reclining over a bolster for five minutes. Or a sweet 15 minute meditation mid day, a time to pause and check in. Everyone has 10 to 15 minutes no matter how busy they are.
The other largest obstacle seems to be that they have no space in their home. I have never had a dedicated yoga space, a room of my own just for yoga. I may never have that. It doesn’t stop me from practicing. I keep my props in the living room where I can see them- they remind me of the promise I’ve made to myself to practice daily. I roll out my mat right in the middle of the living room floor- amidst my son’s toys when he was young, right in the middle of our home with the dogs and my husband walking through- and I practice. No matter what. If I keep waiting for my dream yoga space as seen in a Yoga Journal magazine I may be waiting a long time.
Everything I will be teaching in the way of workshops and learning series this winter will be focused on helping others commit to their own wellness routines and keeping their promises to themselves. I have learned that by making one small commitment to myself {that I will make space for yoga or meditation in each day} that I can count on myself. Knowing this has given me an enormous sense of inner strength that has served me well whenever I have been going through times of change or uncertainty. Maintaining a daily practice for the last ten years has also given me incredible insight into my own health and the needs of my body allowing me to maintain vibrant health without struggle. Everyone can have access to these same feelings of strength and vibrancy by simply creating space for a little bit of home practice each day. Please feel free to email or post questions of facebook at any time if you’d like some more support or tips from me on this subject.
And for those of you that live in Tofino I will be offering to great workshops coming up soon. A How To Create a Home Practice Workshop on Sept 24th, and my Illumination Series, which runs for the month of October and is a much more indepth look at how to create powerful intentions and release self limiting beliefs.
I’m going to go roll out my mat now and dive into a much needed practice. Have a beautiful day!