More than ever, these are times in which is important to establish a Yoga routine at home. It is a chance for us, to make use of our time at home and create our own yoga practice. You will receive the benefits – not only for your body, but also for your mind.
Your Yoga practice at home allows you to really listen to your body, to find your own speed and to adjust the practice according to your needs.
If you have been practicing Yoga for a while, it is likely that you will recall poses and sequences from your teachers and adjust them to your home practice with yourself being your own guide. If you are relatively new to Yoga and relied solely on the instructions of your teacher, maybe it is more challenging to structure your own practice.
I have put together some guidelines and ideas how to establish your Yoga routine at home.
Structuring your Home Practice
Remember some of the Yoga classes that you joined. Wow did the teacher structure the class? Do you recognize a wave form in it? Can you categorize the Asanas into different groups?
A Yoga class basically contains the following elements:
- Tuning in
- Warm up
- Main part with a higher intensity
- Cool down
A well-structured class makes sure, that Asanas from different categories/groups are being integrated:
- Sun Salutations
- Standing Postures (e.g. Warrior poses, Triangle, Extended Side Angle pose)
- Balancing Poses (e.g. Tree, Eagle, Crow or Half Moon Pose)
- Inversions (e.g. Shoulder Stand, Plough, Headstand)
- Backbends (e.g. Cobra, Camel, Bow Pose)
- Twists (e.g. Seated of Supine Twist, Twisted Triangle)
- Forward Folds (e.g. Seated or Wide Legged Forward Fold, Janu Sirsasana, Child’s Pose)
- Relaxation at the end of the class – not to be missed! (Savasana)
The basic principle is to move the spine in all directions and to work both on flexibility and strength for our body. Of course, with the goal of Yoga in mind to balance body, breath and mind.
Intention and Focus of your Home Practice
Before you roll out your mat and start with some warming Sun Salutations, sit down and take time to feel how you are doing at the beginning of your practice. Feel the different sensations in your physical body, your energy level and the flow of the breath. Become aware also of your mental and emotional state. Discover the starting point for your practice on all of these levels. Some questions might help you to start with and to get clear about your intention:
- What do you need from your practice today?
- How do you like to feel at the end of your practice?
- What is your motivation for your Yoga practice?
- How long do you like to practice?
- Do you like to put a focus on a certain area in your body, e.g. the flexibility of your hips or the opening of your chest?
- Do you prefer an energizing or calming practice today? Do you like to hold the poses for a longer time e.g. with a Yin Yoga practice? Do you need something more energizing to get going?
- Do you like to bring a certain quality into your practice? Self-confidence, Surrender, Equanimity, Resilience, Self-love, Strength… You can add more qualities to this list, whatever you feel you need most on that day or time in your life. Tune into your gut feeling to decide what resonates most for you.
Creativity and Intuition
Get creative in order to create a sequence that matches your intention. Personally, I love to draw my intended sequence as stick-figure poses before I practice. Which poses could be suitable to meet your intention in the best way? Are there poses that you love to include? Do you note resistance towards certain poses? If yes, find out the reason behind. Is it because you think you can’t do them well? Or have you noticed that they don’t feel good for your body?
A regular Yoga practice allows us to become more familiar with and at home inside our body. Every practice is an invitation to dive deep within and notice how the poses affect us – physically, energetically and mentally. For example, back bends in which we open the front side of the body tend to be more invigorating while forward folds, in which we lengthen the muscles of the back side of the body, help us to calm the nervous system. When you maintain a regular practice, your body will send you precise signals intuitively, which poses and which sequences make sense and work well for you.
Basic principle in Yoga: Only practice what does not harm you. Avoid any short, sharp pain! Strong sensations of stretches are fine, even when you label them as uncomfortable. Be aware of your limits and respect your limitations. Bear in mind, that the anatomy of our bodies are different and there might be poses, which you cannot achieve or that are not suitable for your body. If you have any pre-existing conditions or injuries, consult your doctor first. He might advise you to avoid certain poses or movements.
Practice at home only what feels safe for you. For example, I would never recommend anyone trying head stand alone, if you haven’t had any instructions from a teacher before, who will tell you what it needs for this pose in order to avoid any injuries or strains. Listen to the signals of your body while you practice the asanas. It is helpful to pause after each Asana or flow in order to feel the effects, especially when you are a relative beginner. Take your time also after the practice and throughout the day to notice the effects. If don’t feel good physically or mental-emotionally after your practice, try to find out what could be the reason for it. At the beginning, it might feel like „trial and error”. Remember that you can always modify and adjust your practice in order for you to feel good with your home practice in the long run.
Yoga can be a play of opposites and a good exercise to motivate yourself. On one hand, you like to challenge yourself with your practice and establish a regular routine, on the other hand you will probably meet your inner saboteurs once in a while that tell you to sit on the sofa with a cup of coffee instead of practicing. Recall your basic motivation for your Yoga practice. What brings you on the mat?
Play with polarities while practicing Yoga, e.g. Stability and Lightness, Strength and Surrender, Effort and Ease, Movement and Stillness. Your Yoga mat is a perfect place for investigation and inner work. You learn to move between certain polarities. It can also help you balance out what you might be lacking or have in access.
Find the right Balance. There might be days where you are motivated to practice for a full 90 minutes. There will be other days where you set your priorities differently and only practice for 15 minutes. This is OK! It does not help you forcing the practice. Avoid bringing this energy of pressure on yourself into your yoga routine. Instead of focusing on how long you should practice, focus on keeping it regular. If you usually join a Yoga class once a week with a teacher – either online or in your Yoga studio, schedule 2 more home practice sessions into your calendar. Value this time for your home practice as an appointment with yourself!
Find out the time of the day, that suits your daily routine. I love to practice before breakfast in order to bring an increased body awareness and presence into my day. On the other hand, I also love to do a meditative Yin Yoga practice in the evening to wind down at the end of the day. Find out what suits you best.
Sustainability and Commitment is important when you have long-term goals for your Yoga practice. It helps to have a basic home sequence which includes most of the asana groups in order to maintain a certain degree of strength and flexibility. When you notice weaknesses in certain body parts or Asana groups, set the intention to work on them deliberately for a certain time, maybe weeks or even months. Dedicate more time and attention to your weak spots in order be more balanced in the long run.
Yoga is a holistic Practice! Many Yoga students tend to reduce Yoga only to the practice of Asanas. For the sake of your well-being and health, don’t forget to take time for breathing exercises (Pranayama) and meditation. These are well worth to be included in your regular practice too. Stay tuned for more blog posts on that matter!
If you need Support to establish your Yoga at home practice or if you like to book an online Yoga session with me, please reach out by sending me an email. I am happily helping you with my knowledge and experience of many years in order to help you create a satisfying practice and make Yoga a part of your life.