It’s 6:00 a.m. and you’ve rolled out your mat for another home practice. As you come to an easy seated position to breathe and center, you notice some new sensations: boredom and fatigue. Your once beloved home practice suddenly feels stagnant.
As with anything else in life, a home practice has its seasons—ebbs and flows, highs and lows.
The reasons many yogis choose to practice at home range from cost and privacy to simple preference and the feeling that they can more deeply explore the teachings of yoga on their own. And some busy yogis find that a home practice fits more easily into their schedule. As with anything else in life, a home practice has its seasons—ebbs and flows, highs and lows.
If you’re feeling stuck in a home-practice rut, read on for eight ways to freshen things up.
One of the ways I keep my home practice interesting is with a daily reading to guide my intention on the mat. There are some great collections of daily readings available from authors and teachers like Rolf Gates, Shakti Gawain, and Melody Beattie. Open to that day’s reading or pick one at random and allow the theme to guide your practice. A daily reader, a book organized with short readings meant to be read one day at a time, offers a continuous variety of possibilities.
The other night I arrived on my mat at twilight for a restorative practice. “Can I do yoga with you, Mommy?” my son asked. “Of course,” I said. My husband wasn’t far behind, and the three of us moved silently through a 30-minute practice together. Sharing the space with them infused my routine with new energy. Since I’m used to practicing alone at home, this was a nice change of pace which allowed me to complete my practice while also enjoying quality family time.
Consider inviting a friend or family member to join you on the mat.
I have read many yoga books that suggest creating a regular space in the home for a personal practice. I have an altar and small practice area in our home, with all of my props, books, and crystals kept there. Routine is great, but so is novelty. Both have value.
With spring in full bloom, you might consider taking your practice outside. Even something as small as facing in the opposite direction can make asana feel new. Find a new space, even if it’s a very small move, and notice how these external shifts change your internal experience.
During my yoga teacher training, I interviewed a yogi who had been practicing since the 1980s. She told me that she and her teacher usually worked one-on-one, typically studying and practicing, for months at a time, only five poses.
Perhaps depth, rather than breadth, is what will break you out of your home-practice rut. Choose five postures you’d like to explore and set an intention to focus on only those poses for a specific period of time (e.g., one week or one month). By concentrating on specific postures, you’ll more readily notice the physical or mental progress you achieve in each pose. Since you’ll likely be leaving out some of your go-to postures in order to focus on the five you selected, you’ll really be able to reset and recharge your typical practice.
I recently had a chance to study with two amazing yoga therapists. When asked whether various poses were safe, good, etc., their answer was almost always, “It depends.” The same is true when it comes to finding new ways to breathe life into your home practice. Some students might benefit from simplifying their practice, others from more diversity. Peruse yoga books and websites and make a list of postures you haven’t practiced in the past few months. Try integrating at least one of them into your home practice each day. As you come into the posture, reflect on why that pose is not part of your regular routine. You might just rediscover a pose you really love.
One posture I’m working on in my home practice right now is plank. I have two goals. First, I want to find safe, steady, and sweet alignment in my expression of the posture. Second, I want to gradually hold my plank for longer periods of time to build strength in my core, lower back, shoulders, and hips. (My current goal is 60 seconds while maintaining a sense of ease throughout.) Consider setting goals for one or more postures as a way to progress specifically in your practice.
I have a very eclectic practice. I most often practice at home—just listening to my body, flowing or settling into whatever pose my body, mind, or soul asks for next. I also practice at local studios. Even so, online yoga offerings have been a great boon to my practice. What I love about online classes is that if a teacher explains a pose in a unique or interesting way, I can pause the video and take a few minutes to fully explore the cue.
There’s a wide variety of affordable online yoga options with free trials. Find a site that aligns with your style and try incorporating at least one video each week into your home practice for a blast of fresh inspiration.
Finally, if you’re in a home-practice rut, just wait. The old adage, “This too shall pass,” has yet to fail me. Maybe the feelings of discontent, fatigue, and boredom are a necessary part of your yoga journey. By sitting with them awhile, rather than actively trying to get rid of them, you may find a beautiful expression of tapas (the yogic principle of self-discipline).
Notice and name the current season of your home yoga practice. Are you in a season of bliss or boredom, or perhaps something in between? Then, mindful of always maintaining a practice of ahimsa (non-harming, or compassion) toward yourself, reflect upon whether you are meant to change your practice routine or to let it be what it is right now. What will be best for you in the long run? The gift of a home practice is that you are empowered to listen closely to the needs of your body, mind, and spirit, deciding on the next, best possible step for your personal evolution.