Raise your hand if you have no idea what day it is!! March 97th? The 3rd of Marprilay? The most important question I have to ask though is, how are you? I mean really: HOW. ARE. YOU? You don’t have to answer, but just think about it. Are you feeling stressed? Uncertain? A little lost? If you think creating a yoga practice for yourself, (or resuming or even refining your existing practice) is something you’d like to do to support and sustain your energy and health through these uncertain times, I am here to help. Staying in place means practicing with the tools you have in your home, and when it comes to a home practice, many people just don’t know where to start. For that reason, I’ve put together three ways to help you with your home practice:
1. Dedicate Your Space
We moved into a new home last fall, and the very first time I walked into what is now my dedicated space, I christened it “the yoga room”. My mats, my props, my art, my crystals, and my salt lamps are all there, finally all in the place where I actually practice! I know that’s not the case for everyone. In our old house, I would practice in the living room. I would have to move the coffee table into the dining room and drag my mat and props out from the office and put everything back when I was done. It worked. It wasn’t glamorous, but it worked.
Even if you don’t have a “dedicated” space in your home for your yoga practice, that doesn’t mean you can’t and shouldn’t dedicate your space. Choose your space, and ready it for practice by doing a few simple things:
1) Start by removing any unnecessary clutter you can. If it belongs somewhere else, take it there.
2) Get your space clean. Sweep, dust, clear cobwebs out of corners, whatever you need to do to be able to settle in with minimal distractions.
3) Add any finishing touches. Essential oil diffusers, crystals, plants, cut flowers, and art are just a few things that can help transform any space into your practice space.
I know that this might seem impossible if you’re practicing in a common area, but see what you can do. Find your space that you can make work for you, even if it’s outside!
2. Gather Your Props
Instead of a yoga mat: An area rug or a beach towel are fine on concrete or indoors (as long as you’re not on hardwood floors--ask me how I know!), but a beach towel on a patch of grass is the best ready made, outdoor mat!
Instead of a yoga blanket: A beach towel or two!
Instead of a yoga block: Pull up a coffee table, a chair, a stepstool, a sturdy stack of books, a stack of blankets, or a small dog (you get the idea!)!
Instead of a strap: Try a belt, a scarf, or even a long sock can help lengthen your arms.
Instead of a bolster: A rolled up yoga mat, a stack of blankets or even two pillows rolled up and tied together, can make amazing bolster substitutes. A bolster can be a great addition to any yoga practice, so get creative if you don’t have one lying around.
If your props can’t all stay together all the time, know where they are so they’re easy to find when it’s time to practice.
3. Carve out the time and put it on your calendar!
I find this to be the most difficult part of the equation, whether I’m taking in-person or online classes. There is ALWAYS something else to be done. Dishes to be unloaded, prescriptions to pick up, laundry to fold, and homework to do, and it doesn't stop just because you need a chunk of time for yourself. No one will just give you that time, you have to take it.
I feel like there’s this huge myth looming out there that it doesn’t “count” as yoga if you don’t do it for at least an hour. Well I’m here to tell you that that is FALSE FALSE FALSE! Think about how good you could feel after taking just 5, 10, or 15 minutes to slow down and focus on yourself. I know that some of us are now faced with long days where nothing happens, whereas others of us feel more busy than in The Before Times. Both groups of people benefit from deliberate scheduling of practice time. Put your time on your calendar not only to keep yourself accountable, but if you’ve got other people in your house with you, this lets them know that you are carving time out of your day for YOU as well.
If you’re having a hard time getting started, start by taking just 15 minutes. Roll around on the floor, pause in Child’s Pose, take a couple twists (supine or seated), play around with Cat/Cow Tilts, or move through a few rounds of Surya Namaskar. Use the time to notice what sorts of organic movement your body is begging you for on any given day. There are so many wonderful teachers with short, medium, and longer practices available on YouTube, and there are also so many remote live classes being offered. Look around, ask your friends what they’re doing, or feel free to ask me!
The thing to remember through all of this is that everyone’s yoga practice looks (and will always look) different. There is no one “right way” to practice yoga. Much like a garden, by gathering what you need and setting boundaries you give your personal practice the opportunity to flourish where there once was nothing. Cultivating our home practices in these uncertain times can not only help us find a glimpse of peace in this storm, but it can help us figure out who we might choose to be on the other side.