The studio is an important place in any yoga practice. It is a separate space from the rest of our lives, providing relief from the usual distractions: the phone bill on the counter you need to pay, the files that have yet to make their way into the cabinet, the jam that your child has inevitably smeared somewhere (I don't have kids so I naturally assume they all have jam-hands). The studio lets us connect to our teachers, our peers, and our inspiration. It stands apart as a space where anything is possible and we can connect to some much-needed positivity while tackling our fears, our flexibility, and our self-love.
That being said, sometimes we just can't get there! Our schedules are impacted by the unexpected and the timeline gets thrown out the window when family emergencies, snowstorms, and car troubles abound. Also, let's not forget those days when we can't seem to pry our tired bodies off the emotional floor of our lives and make it to class. Therefore, with reality in mind, I hope that the following tips for a successful home practice will help bring the studio to you and keep your practice on track, even when your life isn't.
1. Designate a practice space: While having a dedicated yoga space in our homes is the stuff of dreams for most of us, it is still helpful to repeatedly practice in the same area of your home. Whether this ends up being the living room or the foot of the bed, pick a place that you have a positive association with and build on that. Choose someplace that feels comfortable for you and is preferably not a work zone like the kitchen or laundry room. Hard floors are nice as they help with balance but they are not the top priority if it means practicing in a space that pulls your focus to chores and distractions.
2. Respect your home practice and make sure others do too: Communicate with the members of your household that the next hour is yours. You wouldn't stand up in the middle of the studio and take a call, so don't do it at home. Turn your phone off, close the door (if there is one) and allow yourself to take the time that you need for self-care. It is highly unlikely that a disaster will occur in the next hour that you need to respond to and, best of all, showing respect and love for yourself sets a healthy example for everyone who shares your home.
3. Clear the visual landscape: One thing that is great about the studio is the lack of visual clutter. If practicing at home is going to become a regular part of your routine, consider minimizing the landscape of your chosen space. Do you have shelves piled with knickknacks? Overflowing magazine racks and shoes spilling out of closets? Curate the space you intend to practice in, keeping only objects you love. If you plan on minimizing, it is helpful to take all the extra items you would consider parting with and add them to a donation bag in the back of a closet. After a month or so revisit the bag and, if you haven't missed any of the items inside, recycle, donate, or trade them.
4. Find a great instructional resource: One of the best things about SATTVA are the instructors! Adjustments are one of my favorite things in the studio, along with the humor that always seems to find its way into a class. Needless to say, good instruction makes all the difference in yoga; so, unless you're used to self-guided practice, make sure to use an instructional resource that you connect with. Thankfully, SATTVA's website offers online classes for just $10/month, where the studio posts all the monthly sequences and many other great tools. They also have 30 minute sessions available for when life is overwhelming and you have a little less time on hand.
5. Set the mood: Whether you're a morning or an evening yogi, take a few minutes to get into the right headspace for your practice. In the AM, this could include an energizing cup of tea or coffee and 5 minutes of reflection before setting your intention. If you're a night person (my personal preference), light some candles and dim the lights. If auditory stimulation is important to you, incorporate a soundscape that inspires you by throwing on some music (pretty much all free streaming services have yoga playlists). Some other sensory favorites are incense, nebulizers, or some essential oils rubbed onto the temples and wrists.
6. Make an intention list: Sometimes when we walk up to the mat, it can be hard to find our intention. Whether it's racing thoughts, a rough day at the office, or lack of sleep holding us back, having a starting point in those less-inspiring moments can be helpful when that living room session feels flat. Keeping a list of intentions to guide our practices can be extremely helpful. Enter the yoga journal! Each time you practice, make a point of noting your intentions, what you're learning, and a positive gain from each session. Keep the journal or list in your practice space and, on days when you're having a hard time setting the tone on your own, flip through the pages and see what inspires you. Sometimes just seeing your progress can provide a little attitude boost.
7. Make a schedule and stick to it: If you think you can reasonably practice 3 times a week, schedule it! Pick the days and times where you would like to be in the studio and if you ever just can't seem to make it there, try and squeeze in a short session at home. Staying accountable to your goals will feel incredible.
8. Refresh your weekends: Weekends are often the time for catching up on things like work, sleep, and time with loved ones (hopefully not in that order). The idea of the "weekend warrior" has us scrambling to pack those the "S"-days with rushed activity. Take time to catch up on personal time as well, starting your weekends with a little asana. The bonus: for days where you don't feel like leaving the bedroom, you don't have to. Simply roll out of bed, leave on the comfy sweats, and put in a little quality time on your mat. You'll be glad you did.
Finally, dear friends, wherever you find yourself this week I hope you feel encouraged to roll out your mat and spend some time in that important business of self-love. It will always be worth it.
-Holly de Moissac