Finding and Maintaining a Home Practice

So you have been practicing yoga in a studio/class environment for a while and you may have heard your teacher mention the importance of a home practice. Practicing in a group setting sometimes encourages us to work harder and to perhaps hold poses a little longer than we may do in our own practice. You may also feel secure knowing you are practicing safely with correct alignment and that the asana (poses) are being sequenced in a creative and intelligent way. There are however lots of benefits to starting and maintaining your own regular home practice rather than only attending weekly group classes.

According to a study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, frequency of home practice was a better predictor of positive health than how many classes a person attended weekly or how long someone practiced. The study revealed that yoga students who practiced at home reported more positive mindfulness, subjective well-being, BMI, fruit and vegetable consumption, vegetarian status, sleep and fatigue. 

The result also suggests that practicing yoga, as in The Eight Limbs of the Hatha Yoga Tree not just the third limb Asana, amplified the results. 

I know the thought of a home practice can be daunting, when my teacher first mentioned a home yoga practice I thought, gosh... where do I start. A home practice doesn't have to be an hour long class that replicates the practice you have in a group setting. A home practice may take up just ten minutes of your day and start with picking out your favourite poses or sequence to practice, finishing with a three minute Svasana (Corpse Pose).

It may mean waking up and running through a few Sun Salutations to put your body through its complete range of motion and to find your flow (state) physically, mentally and emotionally. Another day your practice may be a Yin one, with a focus on opening your hips if you are stiff from an office job or loads of driving. 

I teach my High School yoga students a set warm-up, the same one week after week. This way by the end of the term they are very familiar with a simple warm-up sequence that they can use themselves everyday and perhaps add some pranayama, sun salutations a few favourite poses and voilĂ  they have a home yoga practice. I have had students report to me proudly that they do practice these warm-ups on waking as well as the pranayama (breath-work) to keep them calm when stressed. 

Whether you might be staying home with a new baby or working too many hours at the office, anytime is a good time for yoga. You can do yoga stretches and postures in bed or even at your desk at work. If you go on holidays you can practice in your hotel room or cabin just like shown in the above photo. This is a photo my son sent to me when he was travelling in London; he practiced my mini classes found on the Spirit Yoga YouTube Channel in the comfort of his hotel room. For those of you who have been on holidays and are having trouble getting back into a regular practice I have tips to help you at this link.

"I wish that everyone knew that you didn’t need a 3 x 7 sticky mat to practice yoga. You can practice anywhere you wish for any amount of time—you can practice while you are standing in line at the grocery store, waiting in traffic, in a parking lot, on top of a mountain--there are so many places you can practice, and the best part is, it’s contagious!" ~ Chelsey Gribbon

If you are still stuck for home practice ideas you can practice a class from a yoga book or Spirit Yoga's e-Books anywhere, anytime. I also have classes on Coachtube that range from 10 minutes (free) to one hour (paid) that you can practice along to. So, why not start today? Find yourself a moment to practice pranayama, asana, meditation or a mix of all of them and reap the benefits of a home practice. 

"I try to do something twice a day, sometimes it's just a little bit. The place that my life happens to be will determine its intensity—anything from restorative to high intensity vinyasa. I try to be true to myself each day and see what I'm moved to do. I don't have a mold or external blueprint that I follow, but in general I'm pulled toward vinyasa, heat-based movement, moving energy through my body. Rigid routines don't really work well for me. I like fluid practice instead. My style is based on being safe and opening the body from a place that is protecting the joint system. I do a lot of creative sequencing, and I teach people my philosophy, "To thine own self be true." You intuitively know what is right." ~ Baron Baptiste (the style of power yoga I teach originates from Baron Baptiste)

Article by Martine Ford