The most challenging thing for beginner yoga practitioner is whether to develop a home practice. I do not think this is the challenge for only beginners, but practitioners at all stages. Whether practicing in the morning or evening; if it is in the morning – how early should I wake up or go to sleep the night before; if it is the evening, it might be too taxing physically, I need time with my family or other social engagements… ooh.. so many reasons, so many excuses.
We all face this at some point. It is our nature to want to do what is easy and comfortable, which means we would ignore our own practice and instead rely on a class or group setting. However, to deepen the experience and self-finding journey, one should consider taking it up a step further and develop a home practice.
Few things to pay attention to when developing home practice:
My intention – Form a positive intention, think about the reasons why I want to do the practice today and what the emphasis of this practice would be.
My own space – it is important to set up a personal space which provides consistency. It is just having a space that does not require to store or stow major furniture around, just moving a few chairs. Try to dedicate a space with no disturbance, low traffic and relatively quiet. Set a regular time each day for practice. Practicing in the morning will get it out of the way and will set me up for the rest of the day. Evening practice, not too close to bedtime, is also beneficial – since the body and muscle are already warmed up and might be concluded with more relaxation and restorative poses.
My equipments – clothes: comfortable, breathable, things which will not be getting in the way while doing the poses, or reveal more than I may be willing to reveal; mat: a must have is a yoga sticky mat which helps me to be in place by providing traction. Mat provides comfortable experience, it is much softer than the hard floor; blanket: I have two at home, the woolen one and the coarse cotton one. Both are useful to help support head, back, head, sit, lying down, either separately or together; blocks: help to improve body’s alignment, especially in standing poses in which hands will not reach the floor, or to give marking to separate both palms, or to sit own in cross legged or in sitting hero pose; strap: useful to bound poses if your hands do not reach each other, to strengthen alignment of arms.
My traps of excuses and obstacles – believe me, it is easier and faster to decide NOT to practice. What are they? ‘I’m too tired today, I’ll do it tomorrow’, ‘I don’t have time right now’, ‘I’ll take a break today’. As soon as it appears, try to recall my original intention. Usually I just move myself to open and spread out my mat, do a brief stretching and start with the humble Suryanamaskar (Sun Salutation) A for 3-5 times for each side, which will definitely make my body warm. After doing this, I am just ready and start to sweat to continue with more poses. But be aware to avoid trap of judgement and competitiveness. Whatever I do should be right. If I can devote 15-20 minutes, rather than the usual 60-75minutes, that’s fine. Daily practice and reflection are a commitment, which can be a valuable asset that I can use throughout my life.
My view is that home practice is a must while group or class provides you with a good foundation, structure and guidance to develop into a home practice. It is also refreshing to be in a class, meeting the teacher, friends, sharing knowledge, getting new skills, understanding my areas of weakness and at the same time, opportunity to develop.