5 Tips for Success Practicing Yoga at Home
by Lucas Rockwood
There are so many fantastic at-home yoga and fitness programs available right now. From DVDs and streaming videos, to books and pose charts, there’s never been a better time to learn yoga on your own, but the big problem most students experience is the challenge of actually getting out of bed, rolling out your mat, and getting started.
Does anyone consistently practice yoga at home?
As a yoga teacher and teacher trainer, I’ll be the first to tell you that very few students are successful, but as someone who has been fortunate enough to maintain an at-home practice for over a decade now, I’ll share with you five of the tips that have made it work for me in the hopes that they will work for you too.
#1 – Be Realistic About Your Time Commitment
Before I had kids and businesses, I used to practice for 2-3 hours per day, every day. This was a total self-indulgent luxury, and I loved it. But as my family and business life grew, I realized it was too big an ask on all the other people in my life.
Today, I block off a strict hour each day. Often, I’m able to get in 90 or even 120 minutes, but if that happens, it’s a bonus. And as long as I get my hour in, I’m happy. If you’re just getting started with at-home practice, don’t make the mistake of trying to block off a huge chunk of time—it might be too much, too soon. I often recommend people start small and grow from there. Maybe you can start with just 20 minutes of Sun Salutes and a few standing poses. Twenty minutes is significant, and the compound impact of a daily practice, even a short one, is truly amazing.
#2 – Get a Nice Mat
For years, I practiced on a ratty, tattered yoga mat and used a bath towel to mop up my sweat. It was just me in my bedroom, so I figured, who cares? But as it turns out, I did care. Practicing on that nasty old mat made my practice a little less special and little less enjoyable. Why not make the thing I love most even better?
Today, I have a particular kind of mat I really like (for me, it’s super hard/thin ones), and a special kind of yoga towel too (thin, non-slip). The gear itself is totally irrelevant, use what you like. But students are often more motivated when they feel like their home practice is as “professional feeling” as their studio practice. So go ahead and get a mat you like. Wear nice yoga clothes if that makes you feel good. Do whatever you need to do to make your practice feel great. You deserve it.
#3 – Keep a Practice Journal
When you can look back on weeks and months of practice and have a written record, it makes your at-home practice feel more real and more substantial. In my practice journal, I like to make notes about my mood, my aches and pains, and my progress in particular postures. They say, “what you measure, improves” and I’ve certainly found that to be true.
#4 – Be Ruthless About Your “Me Time”
If you have a significant other, family members, or roommates in the house, don’t apologize or feel guilty about your practice time. Turn off your phone, close the door, and know that you are doing as much good for them as you are for yourself. Those close to me learned very quickly that one of the best ways for me to be more present was to leave me alone when I’m doing yoga.
If you’re a physical and emotional wreck, you’re no good to anyone. For people like us who love yoga, our practices are usually what keep us sane (at least for me). So don’t feel guilty. Set aside your practice time, make it known to the household, and do your yoga.
#5 – Think 10 Years Out
We tend to be very short-term focused, thinking about next summer and next year, but what about 10 years from now? What kind of health do you want? What kind of life do you want? What kind of practice do you want? When you focus on 10 years from now, or even 20 or 30 years, it becomes much easier to put things in perspective today. Today is just another day. Do your practice, make small strides forward, work it out on the mat, and make another deposit into your energetic bank account for the future.
I know full well that for some of you, even after reading these tips, you might still be thinking, “Yeah, but…” and that’s just fine too. If home practice is just not working for you, don’t beat yourself up about it. Go to a group class, or better still, invite some friends over so your at-home practice can feel like a studio practice.
I truly believe the best style of yoga is “whatever works,” so take ownership of your yoga, roll out your mat, and get it done.