As an entrepreneur, traveling yoga teacher, and a busy mom of two young boys, finding time to practice yoga can be challenging. I don’t have the luxury of traveling to a yoga studio for group classes. (And if I’m honest, I still find yoga studios intimidating—and I’m a yoga teacher!) It’s hard enough finding a scheduled class time that fits easily into my to-do list, let alone factoring in the time for travel to the studio and the inevitable end-of-class conversations before making my way back home again. My time is finite and I need to use it wisely.
But cultivating a daily physical and spiritual yoga practice is still my number one priority. I know the benefits of a daily practice firsthand, and I also know that my commitment to my practice is a fundamental expression of my own self-care. This is why I love practicing yoga from home, and quite frankly, why I love practicing yoga anywhere and everywhere! I enjoy experiencing yoga in unconventional spaces. Without mirrors to check my alignment or a variety of props to work with, I’m forced to become more creative, and I’m often motivated to try new things. Practicing alone also allows me to be more attuned to my body. Instead of focusing on others in the room or on what the teacher is telling me to do, I concentrate (dharana) on my experience. In my own creative explorations, I’m able to pay closer attention to what feels right, versus what feels wrong.
I know the benefits of a daily practice firsthand, and I also know that my commitment to my practice is a fundamental expression of my own self-care.
Practicing from home also offers me the freedom of practicing at my own convenience. While I may not be able to find 60 to 75 minutes to practice, let alone the time to travel to and from the studio, I can always squeeze in 5 to 10 minutes for yoga or meditation wherever I am.
Cultivating and sustaining a home practice does require a little more self-motivation, however! Practicing in a group or belonging to a studio automatically instills a greater sense of dedication, as we often feel obligated to get to class when we’ve already paid in advance or when we expect to see a friend or two there. In the absence of these motivations, I’ve found new ways to keep myself on track.
Here are my top six ways to cultivate and sustain a home yoga practice:
1. Subscribe to an Online Studio
As a yoga teacher, I’m an expert in creating my own flow, but I often catch myself doing the same poses over and over again. When you’re trying to create your own flow, it’s easy to focus on what you want to do, rather than what you need to do! On the other hand, I sometimes catch myself bailing on my practice after 10 minutes, simply because I’ve run out of ideas.
The beauty of an online studio is its variety, accessibility, and affordability. Most online studios cost less per month than the price of a drop-in class at a local studio. You can choose specialized classes with amazing teachers that will help you expand your practice. I like to do online classes here at Yoga International, and on my own site, Yogasteya. Both of these offer a variety of specialized content and a wide diversity of classes and teachers. They also offer opportunities to interact with the teachers and other students through comment sections or dedicated forums and through social media. The ability to interact with others helps to create a similar feel as an in-person community class.
2. Start Small
A home practice gives you the freedom to practice for as long as you need or as short a time as your schedule allows. Remember, your yoga practice doesn’t need to be 90 minutes every day. You can start small and then build on your practice time as it feels natural to do so. For many years I found myself practicing 15 minutes per day, a few times throughout the day. Any time I had a moment I would stop, drop, and do yoga asana or meditation. Let go of the idea that your yoga practice has to occur within a single block of time. Be open to incorporating little bits of yoga and meditation throughout your day, and you’ll notice opportunities to practice when you least expect them.
Most importantly, don’t beat yourself up if you fall off the wagon. If you find that you’ve missed several days, weeks, or months, just dust yourself off and get back on the mat. Start slowly with a 5-minute practice 3 to 5 times a week, and go from there.
3. Pick a Spot
I find that having a dedicated space helps me to stay focused and disciplined (tapas). Is there a place in your home, office, classroom, or break room where you can roll out a mat? Finding a spot you can dedicate to your practice helps to create that sacred space. Moving into that space acts as a reminder that it’s time to practice, similar to the feeling of walking into a quiet studio. Picking a convenient spot that you pass on a daily basis is especially helpful. Best of all, you can have all the dedicated yoga spots you want! I have yoga mats strategically placed throughout my house. I’ve kept a yoga mat under my bed for years so that I can simply hop out of bed and start my day with a few quick sun salutations. Try keeping a mat in your car, under your desk at work, or beside your couch, and you’ll be more inclined to take a yoga break.
4. Schedule Yoga Time
Most of us already live by a schedule or a to-do list. Start adding “Yoga Time” to that schedule. Put it in your calendar, set a practice timer, or add an alarm on your phone. There is no reason to feel guilty about scheduling some me-time. You are worth 10 minutes, so take it! Yoga and meditation are self-care practices, and dedicating time for these practices can change your outlook on life. Devoting time to yourself will leave you calmer, more focused, less stressed, and more productive. This is one of the greatest gifts I’ve discovered in my yoga practice—that devoting 10 minutes to yoga, even on the busiest days, helps to ensure my own happiness and well-being.
You are worth 10 minutes, so take it!
5. Invite a Friend
Try setting a weekly yoga date night with your friends. Every Wednesday, my friend Juliane comes over and we do a home yoga practice together. If a weekly yoga date night isn’t an option, consider a bi-weekly or monthly visit. You can also practice with a friend “virtually,” using online platforms like Facetime or Skype. And if you can’t schedule a physical or long-distance shared practice, try working together by simply encouraging each other to practice. Schedule a phone call to check in with your friend and talk about your practice, your routine, or anything you might be struggling with. Creating camaraderie around your home yoga practice can keep you feeling refreshed, invigorated, and determined to continue it.
6. Make It Fun!
As you create your unique practice at home, try new classes, new websites and YouTube videos, Facebook Live classes, or any other new way to experience yoga. For example, you can take pictures or videos of your home practice and share them on social media. Try picking a new pose once a month and dedicating your home practice to playing with different variations of that month’s pose. As you experiment, allow yourself to be playful—even silly! Rather than being regimented in your idea of what yoga looks like, just enjoy striking a pose. Encourage others to join you. Yogi playtime is a great way to expand your experience of yoga asana.
Creating a daily practice doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. There are many ways to incorporate yoga and meditation into your daily schedule. Best of all, taking a timeout to do you helps to ensure that you can continue showing up as your best and most authentic self.
So, here’s the challenge: Start making your yoga practice and your well-being a priority. Try cultivating a home yoga practice—and let me know how it goes!