I often hear people say that they would love to do a regular home yoga practice but they don’t know where to start. So, here we go – step by step, so you really can do it. Yes, you!
Step One. Why? Why do you feel you want a home yoga practice? Connect to your ‘why’ as powerfully as you can. Is it to connect into your self each day, to give your body what it needs each morning, to find a quiet minute to organise your thoughts, or a quiet space where your day can begin on your terms? Do you have a real motivation to keep your body healthy and fit or to reclaim some of the strength and fitness you used to have? Knowing your real 'why' will help keep you going when you make it conscious. Write it down, get really into the nitty-gritty – why does it matter, and does it matter a little, or a lot? Is it just a whim, or if you have the tools and the guidance, will you really commit to it, even for just two weeks to start with and then you can re-evaluate?
A morning practice is often something that people grow into. If you set an intention to commit to your morning yoga for a certain, achievable length of time, this becomes something you can truly commit to. It's easier to commit to days, 21 days or 28 days rather than - forever! Then you can let it go after those days have passed, until you feel again the urge to make a new commitment for another length of time. Or perhaps once you’re on a roll of however many days you’ve committed to, you find that you’ve established a new habit and you will keep going just because it feels good.
You don’t want to feel the dreaded ‘should’ as in, ‘Oh no I SHOULD go and do my morning yoga again now, sigh’. If you’ve committed to it for just two weeks, it might be easier to keep motivated. And you know, it’s perfectly ok to let it go after your two weeks, for now. Maybe you’ll pick it up again in due course and maybe you won’t. Don’t let yourself go to that inner critic place that tells you what you should be doing and all the reasons you’re no good because you’re not doing it. That’s how to kill your motivation and enjoyment of your practice!
Step Two. Find your special yoga space. If you can leave your mat unrolled and ready for you, that’s a great way to set yourself up. Your yoga mat symbolises your sacred space, the place you go where you can be completely yourself. You will roll into your 5-15 min daily yoga practice most easily if it’s all set up and ready for you.
However, it would be, ideally, a respected space. The kids are not allowed to eat sticky jam sandwiches on your yoga mat. The dog is not allowed to lie on it after being outside in the rain. If it’s not possible to teach everyone else in your household that it’s only for you (with the possible exception of your cat, as long as she doesn’t flex her claws on that lovely surface) – don’t leave it out. It’s about everyone – including you – respecting your needs and your space…and this might not be easy for you to stand for!
Step Three. Set your alarm something like 5-15 minutes earlier each morning. Be realistic. What will you really manage to stick with? 90 minutes of yoga before work could be blissful, but who would ever manage to do that every day? Except yoga teachers, of course. (Do I really do that?? I’m not gonna tell ya).
Step Four. START! Turn up. Every. Single. Day. For those five minutes, for those two weeks, even if you have no idea what you’re going to do when you get there. Don’t expect to go into handstands or complicated postures. Don’t expect to know what you should do. Don’t think you’ll do a warm-up, some tricky postures, some pranayama (breath practice) and savasana (relaxation) along with a little dose of meditation, all within your fifteen minutes.
Step Five. What you could actually do when you get there – will come in my next newsletter in a couple of weeks! Sorry to keep you waiting. You could google ideas to get you started. Meanwhile, just turn up. Sit there/lie there/be on hands and knees. Be in a quiet space. Keep it simple. Turn your attention inward and listen to how you are. Take lots of deep breaths. Come into rocking movement or circling movements or stretching movements. Even five minutes of BEING STILL, BREATHING DEEPLY, and CIRCLING/STRETCHING MOVEMENTS will do you a world of good. Do it every single day if you can! And if you miss a day, please please don’t give yourself a hard time and throw your whole practice away, thinking you’ll never get it. Just turn up again the following day, or the one after that. Have patience and kindness with yourself. We are our own worst critic, aren’t we?
Next time: suggestions for your yoga practice each day.