These five tips can help you design a home yoga practice and give you the confidence that you do, in fact, know what you’re doing. They also provide the means to keep your practice fresh, so that you don’t have to resort to practicing the same handful of poses over and over (unless you want to, of course—it is your home practice, after all).
Start with quiet.
Before you dive into a sun salutation or a specific pose, start in a comfortable seated position or even in Savasana (Final Relaxation Pose). When you begin with stillness, you can see how your body and mind feel and then decide what to do based on your observations.
Pick a direction.
Where you go and how you get there depends on how you feel. If you’re tired, choose a short restorative practice. If you’re raring to go, opt for a more vigorous practice. If you need grounding and stability, focus on standing poses. If you need energy, incorporate backbends. The more you use your practice to take care of yourself, the more strength and energy you’ll have in the long run.
Choose poses you love.
There’s a common perception that you should use a home practice to work on the poses that truly challenge you. Throw that idea out the window! If you want to build a consistent home practice, it has to be more of a carrot than a stick. Start by choosing two to three poses that feel great, so you’ll feel compelled, rather than obligated, to roll out your mat.
Pay attention in class.
Start taking mental notes in class: “I really like when we do down dog, low lunge, down dog again, and pigeon, I’ll do those three at home.” Take some of the things we do on a regular basis in class and incorporate them into your regular life.
How to Keep Going.
So, what about those times when you don’t feel well or when life piles up? Get creative. At its heart, a yoga practice is an intention to observe your actions and reactions. It doesn’t necessarily have to take a certain form. Your practice could mean watching your reactions at work, or while standing in line at the grocery store. It could also mean deciding to mother with total absorption during the next toddler temper tantrum, or “washing the dishes to wash the dishes,” as Thich Nhat Hanh
famously said in his book The Miracle of Mindfulness.