4 Ways to Kickstart your Home Practice

by: Kerry Maiorca

When I was a newly enamored yoga student, I spent many a failed morning trying to coax myself onto the mat at home. How could I create the same heightened experience I’d had at the studio when I might go into downward dog and see an overflowing laundry basket behind me?

Because my studio yoga practice had been so influential and transformative, I felt like each time I stepped on the mat I needed to have that peak experience. I had over-exotified my practice, made it too precious, thereby ensuring that it was not my own but rather something only my yoga teacher could gift to me during a studio class.

It took time and lots of trial and error to figure out how to consistently be able to practice at home, and the most helpful thing in that process was to take away all expectations of the magic of yoga and bring the practice back down to earth. Here are a few tips that helped me when I was having trouble getting motivated:

1. Don’t change. The process of changing into your ‘yoga uniform’ can add unnecessary pressure. Instead of donning your fancy yoga gear, practice in whatever clothes you’re already wearing. Pajamas, work clothes, it doesn’t really matter. Doing Warrior 2 in non-yoga clothes makes yoga feel within your grasp and opens the possibility of making practice just a normal part of you day.

2. Keep it short. Aim to practice for 5-10 minutes at first. Pick 1 or 2 of your favorite poses, then gradually build up your practice from there. For most people, a max of 20 minutes at home is plenty. You want your practice to be fun rather than feeling pressure that you didn’t do an hour and a half as you would in class. Save the long practice for your time at the studio.

3. Skip the yoga mat. Sometimes rather than rolling out the old yoga mat, I’ll just sneak in a pose or two in my kitchen or the hallway. That first pose is the hardest, so if you trick yourself into getting started you’ll usually find the next two or three come more easily.

4. Don’t skimp on the relaxation. Whatever poses you pick, make sure you make time for savasana! Lying down to relax for a minimum of 5 minutes after practicing is essential for integration of the work you’ve done. It’s also a perfect time to observe how even your brief home practice affected your body and mind, so savor these few precious minutes of quiet and stillness in your otherwise busy day. Of all the poses you can practice at home, savasana is the most important but often the hardest to prioritize. Believe in the importance of rest and eventually work to extend your practice up to 20 minutes.

I vividly remembered how as a new student and self-professed yoga fanatic, I found it difficult to reconcile the transformative experiences I had on my mat with the rest of my life. The transitions can be almost comical – one minute I’m overwhelmed with sensations of peace and wellbeing in savasana, the next I’m pulling the kids off each other. I love the idea of making yoga just another part of daily life. It doesn’t have to be compartmentalized, it’s not some ideal state of being to aspire to only when I have time to make it to the studio.

I like to think of yoga as just another self-care routine, like brushing my teeth or eating a good breakfast. It’s an ongoing process of creating health in the midst of, rather than in spite of, my daily existence. After even 10 minutes I’m more aware of my posture, my breath is deeper, I chew and taste my food rather than gulping it down, and if I’m lucky I hang onto just a little of that post-savasana peace (at least until my next refereeing obligation). It may be messy, but the process of letting yoga practice filter into daily life normalizes that which I once put on a pedestal. Here’s to taking it down, dusting it off, and putting it to good use.

Kerry Maiorca is the Founder & Director of Bloom Yoga Studio in Chicago. She has been teaching yoga since 1998, right around the time she got over the hurdle of home practice intimidation. Kerry writes about the intersection of yoga and daily life at her Thinking Yogi blog and finds her home practice to be not only a commitment to self-care, but also a place where writing ideas flourish.

My Area Yoga is an online directory, calendar, blog, and information hub for the wellness and yoga community. Currently offering service in the northeast, as well as Chicago. Our mission is to be the most comprehensive online resource for the local communities.

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