10 Keys to Getting Started With–And Sustaining–A Home Yoga Practice
A home yoga practice is KEY for keeping you moving through pregnancy and postpartum because really…who can make it to class every single day? And what if you could just practice for 10 minutes, and be done?!
Here are some of our best tips to make sure you make it onto your mat (or without your mat!)
1. Let go of class format/length
Consider any amount of time you spend quieting yourself and moving/breathing your body in unison as productive. Seven minutes on your mat every single day is better than an hour once a month.
2. Keep your mat out/music nearby
During my first pregnancy, when my back and hips were most sore and achy in the morning, I kept my yoga mat rolled out on the floor right by my bed. It was like a sweet welcome mat in the morning.
I would place my feet on the mat and instantly feel invited to linger. I would turn around and lean over the bed with my arms on the bed and stretch and breathe.
Not only was it a gentle reminder, but it was also super simple and convenient and allowed me to practice with minimal “trying”. If music inspires you to move, try keeping your mat near your bed and having some music turn on at a given hour (night time or morning). Let the music invite you onto your mat for a few conscious breaths.
3. Be open to when the moment strikes, then repeat
If you haven’t found a time that’s good for you to practice yet, maybe it’s because you have other children, other responsibilities or a routine that doesn’t seem to allow time for a yoga practice.
If this is you, try this technique. Spend a couple of days being willing to spontaneously break out into moving through some yoga postures with your breath. For example, while your coffee or tea is brewing, you notice your shoulders are tight so you spontaneously and completely mindfully stand grounded and stretch your arms overhead and take a forward fold.
Or maybe you come in at the end of your day, and notice you’re feeling tired and wishing you could put your feet up. Do it! Don’t check the mail first. Don’t get a glass of water first. The key here is to move into action before the thinking mind processes too much. You feel the urge and you just do something.
Now, part two of this, where it gets really interesting, is to remember those times/places in your day where you were spontaneous once, and try it again.
Repeat the same exercise at the same time and just notice if it’s a time when you consistently enjoy. Then, the next day, do it again.
Over time, the routine and ritual of it will become enjoyable and even desired as much as that morning wake-up cup. 🙂
4. Start on the floor
There’s something about getting on the floor that shifts our energy.
Whether it’s lying down, seated, or something in between, the floor is grounding, the floor connects us to gravity and stability. The floor invites us to stay a little longer.
So start on the floor any way you feel inspired. Put your hands down on the floor, deepen your breath and let that be enough. (See Idea #1)
5. Just do one thing
It’s very common to think we don’t have time for a yoga practice because we believe we need lots of time. Or maybe we believe that in order for a yoga practice to actually be a practice that it has to include a bunch of poses strung together in a certain order.
While there are styles of yoga that do involve a bunch of poses strung together in a certain order, there are also styles of yoga that consist of just one pose for the duration. One pose may be enough.
Other times, one pose is enough to start, and the desire for more will arise naturally. I just love this way of going about practice. It keeps us really present to what’s going on in each moment. Just do one thing and maybe that’s all you need. If you’re inspired to do more, just do one thing more. And continue in that way until you feel done.
6. Deepen the breath
My teacher says that yoga without the breath is gymnastics. Start with your breath, wherever you are. Turning inward to your body, to the moment, to your thoughts, to your breath is just as much of a yoga practice as anything else.
7. What feels right is right
Developing your ability to move intuitively during birth starts at home on your mat by doing exactly this. Move in the way that feels right. The key word in this one is “feels”. Don’t try to narrate or analyze with your mind if what you’re doing is right or feels right. Just move, breathe and enjoy. As long as you are enjoying, you are doing what feels right.
8. Learn a foundational sequence and repeat that
Nothing will kill home yoga practice momentum faster than trying to decide every time you step on your mat what you are going to do. Start by learning Sun Salutation A and Sun Salutation B. I'm a huge fan of the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series, which is a methodical, time-proven set of poses that cleanses the nervous system and moves your body in all directions for maximum strength and stretch.
9. Don’t be discouraged by distractions
When you practice at home there will be occasional distractions. When you’re first starting out, don’t let these little things derail your efforts. Yoga is not about achieving or arriving anywhere. Yoga is an experience. It is found in the doing. If you have to get up to go to the bathroom or close the blinds or let a pet in from the outside, you have not failed at your practice. Keep going and include your awareness of the “distraction” in your practice of letting go.
10. Finish with savasana
The most important pose at the end of every yoga practice is savasana, corpse pose. It’s where you lie on the ground on your back on a bolster or on your side with your top leg propped up and allow the body to rest. Perhaps this is the only pose you do on a given day. It’s a good choice. The body needs time to unravel the stress of the day and if you’re doing savasana after other poses, this rest gives your body a chance to fully incorporate the benefits of your practice into your body.
Need some help getting on your mat more often, or not sure what to do when you get there? Post your question in the comments so we can support you!