Home Practice

Tips for following through on a home practice

Standing forward fold with shoulder opener 1) Carve out 10 minutes every day A little a lot consistently is better than a lot a little.  Start with 10 minutes if that is all you can do, own that 10 minutes.  I wrote about this yesterday and I think it's the key to a home practice.

2) Be consistent.  Your body craves consistency and routine.  My dream has always been to have my home practice first thing in the morning.  It's what my favorite teacher does, it's what works for a lot of people, and I'm a morning person so you would think this would work for me, but the majority of the time it doesn't.   Right after work is normally a great time for me to practice.  It's the bridge between my Type A existence and my home life.  If I stop for 10, 15, 20 or even 30 minutes before I settle in, my evening at home or teaching at my studio goes a heck of a lot better than if i don't practice for at least 10 minutes.

Feet

3) Eliminate as many distractions as you can. You will never be able to eliminate all distractions.  You can do yourself a favor by eliminating as many as possible.  Turn your phone on airplane mode or turn it off altogether, if you live with others ask them to leave you be for your set amount of practice time.  If you live with animals put them in another room if you can (my dog barks at me If I segregate him to a different room so we compromise with him sitting quietly near by).

Max

3) Set a timer for your desired amount of practice time.  10 minutes, 30 minutes one hour doesn't matter.  This will eliminate the distraction of wondering how long you've been practicing for, or worrying about being late for something else.  This tip will also aid your meditation practice.

4)Boredom comes, it's ok, it's all part of the process. If you've been practicing consistently for a while you might already know and understand this.  Your practice will not reveal insights every day, it will not feel great every day.  Sometimes you come to the mat and you want to be anywhere but on the mat.  Sometimes you wonder if you are going to do the same old sun salutations every day.  You will feel uninspired and that is ok, it's all part of the process.  It's the commitment to getting on the mat that's important even if you spend your whole 10 minutes in legs up the wall.

5) Use tools if you feel uninspired We've all been there.  We don't feel like getting on the mat.  We might be out of ideas of what to do with our bodies.  This is a great time to put together a playlist for yourself, maybe turn on a yoga DVD from your favorite teacher or grab your favorite yoga book and try a sequence.

Having a personal practice will get you in-touch with yourself in ways that you can't access otherwise.  IF you are a yoga teacher you will not become a great yoga teacher unless you have a solid personal practice, I know this to be true from experience.  Use your personal practice as a place of opening and exploration.  Have fun, enjoy it and see where it takes you.

Tuesday Tidbits: My home practice isn't pretty

Max with yoga mat
Max with yoga mat

It's 8:24pm on a monday night and I've just gotten done with a short meditation practice.  I know I've got an early morning start tomorrow, but the evening breeze is coming in my bedroom window after a cool rain.  I'm not quite ready for bed.  A piece is missing.  My home practice.

I get up, unroll my mat and set it up in the empty room I practice in.  It's not pretty, my mat is dirty it's been well-loved and no matter how many times I wipe it down with tea tree oil, it still feels grimy to me.  Never mind that, I go change tops to make sure my t-shirt doesn't fall down and distract me.   I've got too many distractions in my mind already I want to mitigate the ones in the body.  When I come back to my mat Max is lying down next to it, at least he isn't on it.  I'll choose my battles and I let him be.  I think when I do yoga it seems to give him a sense of calm and security, but then again I could be imagining that.

My teacher Stephanie said we should lock dogs and children out of our practice space/time.  I do understand why, but max doesn't want to bother me, he just wants to be near me.  I'm on my mat to practice that's all that matters.

I'm getting back to a steady home practice these days.  No, I don't spend 3 hours a day on the mat like some teachers I know and admire, but I do make it a point to get on my mat for a few minutes each day even if I can only spare 10 minutes.  I need the time to listen to my body, I need the time to check in.  It's not pretty, I get distracted, I try to remind myself like I remind my students to stop thinking about the lint between my toes, the chipped toe-nail paint, the dust bunnies in the corner and the list of things I failed to do at work and just breath.  The point is to notice the distractions, acknowledge them and let them go.  Listen to my body, what's tight, what's not, what's going on in the body, what's coming up in the mind.  Notice and let go.

The point is that if we don't show up on our mats to find out, we'll never know.  We need to be home to answer the door.  That's why I head to my mat.  I want to be present for whatever knocks.  What ever calls at my spirit.  To do that we need to put in the work.  We need to show up so I show up.