How do you develop a consistent yoga practice at home?
We are certainly living in extraordinary times right now. Every single one of us has had to adapt to a new temporary way of life as we try and stay safe during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Many of my students work for the NHS. When I catch myself in a grump, frustrated that I can’t see friends for a cheeky vino or attend a family BBQ, I think of them. Staying home really is a small ask in the grand scheme of things.
Admittedly, my life is pretty well-equipped to deal with self-isolation. I don’t have children so no need to don my teacher’s hat. Working from home for me is normal and my yoga practice is 98% a home practice. I enjoy solitary walks outside and so far I’m enjoying my partner being at home all the time. I do miss my family and friends though. That makes my heart hurt a bit. Thank goodness for Zoom and House Party.
Many have used this time to get those jobs ticked off the ‘to-do’ list, improve their homes, unleash their creativity, learn a musical instrument or even learn a language.
While I applaud that motivation with as much vivacity as my 8pm applause on Thursdays, I can’t help but feel this is all a bit ‘New Years’ Resolutiony’ for the rest of us.
These are strange times and for many, the days can roll into one, routine can be challenging and #selfisolation goals can make us feel even worse if we don’t accomplish them.
Perhaps you need some reassurance, and perhaps that reassurance needs to be a little more helpful than ‘you are not alone’. You do not need to conquer the world right now.
Use this time to connect…to yourself.
There has never been a better time to start a home yoga practice, or a time you needed it more.
With more online yoga than ever before, you don’t have to look far to find live classes. Every day you can find something from all of your favourite teachers. But even this can feel overwhelming.
We have put together a few ways to help you get started with a home practice. Take this opportunity to focus on your well-being, boost your motivation and perhaps find some peace in all this craziness.
Do Not Disturb
Make sure that you create a space for your practice where you will not be disturbed. Treat this time, similar to if you were about to take a long, relaxing soak in the tub.
Even though you are practising in your own home, you need to imagine you are attending your usual class. I think this is where most people struggle with a home practice.
It is all too easy to check your phone and get distracted because the environment isn’t set up for you to get your zen on. Usually everywhere we look in our homes, there is something (or someone) that requires our attention.
As best you can, try and set up a small space of tranquility. This is you time, and you want to be able to create the most authentic yoga space you can.
So many online schedules are available right now, which makes it alot easier to work into your schedule. Apply the same mindset to on-demand courses. Just because it isn’t live, you still need to consciously set time aside to do it. Pop a slot in the diary and make that extra effort to incorporate the classes into your daily routine.
It is important you approach online classes with the same attitude as an ‘in person’ class. This really works for me and helps keep my motivation.
If you are working from home, it can be all too easy to fall into the same pattern. Working through lunch breaks and pattering away at your keyboard for more hours than you should. You still need to take time out and have the breaks that you would normally when working in an office.
Taking an online class will also help to break up the monotony of the day. At the moment, it can feel like each day rolls into the next. Whether you schedule in a live class or a pre-recorded session, both are fantastic opportunities to create variety to ‘samey’ days.
I like to do my practice a couple of hours after my breakfast, and then after some admin and email checking, I’m ready for something yummy for lunch and then I power through work until dinner. For me, that schedule works really well for my routine and allows me to be motivated throughout the day and be more productive. Make a commitment and then the next time you set a time for your practice it will be even easier to stick to.
Remove any expectations
So you didn’t do a full 90 minute class and when you did, your online food delivery arrived and the postman called. The kids need your attention and the office has scheduled a Skype call over lunch. So what? Beating yourself up about it isn’t going to make you feel any better.
Life happens. Distractions happen.
The intention to show up on your mat and make the time is a massive deal. Just a few minutes in Child’s Pose (Balasana) or even taking 5 minutes in a seated meditation can be enough to reconnect.
When the day runs away from me and I haven’t done anything, you can usually find me on my mat in a supported Fish pose. I personally hold a lot of tension in my neck and shoulders, so this posture works wonders for me when time is short.
Find a pose that helps you relax and open up the body. There is always tomorrow for a Power Rocket class.
Keep it simple
This kind of follows on from the point above.
You don’t need a complicated yoga schedule right now. What would you like to work on to improve your practice?
I have one lovely student who keeps requesting hip openers for virtual classes. Usually, I would be like, sweets come on you gotta mix things up a bit! For now, I refrain from suggesting anything of the sort. That’s what makes her feel good right now, then who am I to tell her she should be doing backbends. Indulge in something that will help you rock up on your mat – even if it is hip opener after hip opener.
Perhaps you want to take more time to relax, or maybe you would like to try a new style of yoga.
I’ve recently enjoyed discovering new styles myself thanks to virtual yoga. This is a great time to try something new. However, it is easy to get overwhelmed with choices. Try not to set yourself an impossible to-do list of yoga classes. Hone in on what you want from a practice. For me, I love alignment so Anusara is a good fit. I’ve always fancied having a go at Rocket yoga, and virtual classes have made these new styles possible to try.
Figure out what you want from your home practice and find the programs to suit your personal goals and requirements. That way, you aren’t just doing a class because you feel you have to. You are literally following the path of self improvement and that will make you feel so much better inside and out.
Join an online class or find a course
Use this opportunity to connect with your favourite teachers. I have been fortunate enough to practise yoga in Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand, China, USA and more… I’ve found wonderful teachers who I always make the effort to see whenever I am in the country. Today I can connect with every single one of them thanks to virtual classes, which is something I am very grateful for.
As I connect more with yogi friends I have met all over the world, I’m finding the virtual support and shares really fantastic.
I’ve actually really enjoyed teaching online and will probably continue some of the classes when the self isolation rules are lifted.
For me it’s been a lovely way to connect with my students and I’ve enjoyed the challenge of finding simpler alignment cues that don’t necessarily need me to be there in person. As a teacher it’s been more physically demanding as well – particularly with the stronger vinyasa classes.
Of course this isn’t a substitute for actual interaction with a person. However, the current situation has actually been a really special learning experience. For me, it’s much more efficient to use these times as an opportunity to learn and grow rather than wither and wallow.
If all else fails, shake your booty
So your brand new yoga mat is still in its packaging. Your new #workoutathome yoga pants still have the labels attached. The online yoga course you bought still hasn’t been used and you are ready to give up.
It doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t.
Put on those fabulous new star print yoga leggings and shake that cute booty while you make a cup of tea. Laugh at yourself.
Ask Alexa to play your favourite track and dance like no one is watching. I promise it will make you feel better.
Yoga isn’t going anywhere and you don’t have to conquer the world right now. All you need to do to be a superhero is stay at home.
Peace and love yogis xox