When I first began my yoga teacher training, we were encouraged to start a home practice. Riiighht. Let me fit that in between my six kids, two dogs, making dinner, studying Sanskrit vocabulary and checking the kids homework.
Occasionally in those early days I would attempt to be a good yogi and I'd roll out my mat and begin. But then the baby would cry. Or I'd be in wheel pose and from upside down I'd see the ever-growing laundry pile. More often than not my at-home practice ended in frustration rather than bliss.
But as I grew as a yoga student and yoga teacher, I began to not only understand the importance of a home practice, but I began to want one. Carving out time for myself on the mat became much more important in my daily routine. My time alone on the mat allowed me the luxury to stay in a pose as long as I wanted, exploring the physical alignment of it, tweaking it, and understanding it more.
Physical lessons aside, my yoga home practice gives me much needed me time to grow as a yoga student/teacher and human being. Maybe I finally succeed in a pose that has been bothering me, but the bigger lesson is the journey I took to get there. Why was I so determined to do a headstand? What did I think would happen when I was finally upside down? What does it say about me as a student/teacher/human that I just had to do this pose? My home practice forces me to face when I'm being competitive, when I'm being stubborn, when I'm scared and when I'm being kind of lazy. When it's just you on the mat, there's no one to blame but you.
There are some mornings I wake up, and before I'm out of bed I'm thinking about getting to the mat. Sometimes before my feet hit the floor I know my body needs hip openers. Other days I know to pull out my yoga bolster because I'm going to have a quieter, restorative practice. By committing to a home practice I'm much more in tune with my body and what it needs.
So how do you start a home practice? Well, you just do. Get on the mat, find child's pose, breathe and listen. What do you feel? What are you thinking? Just be quiet for a few moments and your body will tell you where to go.
Many of my students have asked me to write out a yoga routine for them. Here's a basic routine to get you started. It's intentionally short. I encourage you to take the time to breathe into each pose, listen and then go where your body tells you. Don't feel obligated to follow the flow, make your own. Enjoy!
1. Child's Pose
2. Downdog - peddle the feet stretching out your calf muscles
3. Plank/Downdog flow
4. Walk your feet to the top of the mat into forward fold
5. Inhale arms up, exhale into forward fold.
7. Sun Salutations
8. Warrior II into Side Angle right side
9. Side Plank left hand down
10. Warrior II into Side Angle left side
11. Side Plank right hand down
12. Locust into Child's Pose
13. Cow Face Pose right and left
14. Supine Spinal Twist right and left