You might have your dream home and an impressively zen sleeping space, but chances are, you weren’t working, cooking, sleeping, playing, moving, being all in one space up until now. So, on the days when you’re feeling especially scattered, but need to make it to your mat, there are a few key things to consider and take extra time to follow through on so that your yoga practice can remain somewhat steady and consistent while at home.
Refining Your Space
Suddenly, your home is your only studio. Until studios get up & running, your living room, bedroom, or the space between your kitchen island and sink are now finding themselves leveled up in their sacred nature. Sure, you might have practiced a few Sun Salutations here and there in your bedroom after waking up or found yourself in tree pose while waiting on dinner to cook, but this is different. Studio spaces draw folks in for good reason. They’re well-kept (hopefully), full of familiar faces and kind folks, smell like the seaside and offer you more than just a few passing moments of peace.
What aspects of your studio do you miss most? Maybe there was a certain incense your favorite teacher would burn, and now you find yourself craving the scent and cleansing nature. If one teacher was especially talented at curating prime playlists that kept you focused and with your breath every class without fail, you might find yourself fed up with the old playlists you find on your phone. Did one teacher dim the lights just so towards the end of class and that was all that really took you into deep meditation during savasana? Is there one pose you can only get into (safely) with adjustments from your teacher?
Consider how you can transfer and re-create these aspects in your own space. Dim the lights and shift the blinds just so to create optimal meditation lighting for your practice. You might have to do this before you step on the mat, so the effect is different than that potent shift just before savasana, but it’s better than nothing. Light some candles, too, and maybe seek out one that smells similar to the incense the studio has. A lot of popular incense is rather easy to find at metaphysical shops or online nowadays, so you might even be able to find the exact scent.
Reach out to your teachers, too. If they’re online teaching through a streaming platform, you could ask them before class begins. If they’re not, I’m sure they’re still wanting to hear from their students. Ask if they’ll share a playlist or two with you. While you’re at it, see if they have any tips for the asanas you were adding to your practice before at-home-life began. Even without studio props, a lot of items at home can take the place of bolsters, straps, and blocks. You can use a stack of books as blocks, a folded pillow as a bolster, and a sturdy scarf or t-shirt as a strap.
A lot of studios have shifted online since the start of COVID19. Yours might not have, though, and if you’re missing the guidance and space a teacher holds for you, it might be time to broaden your horizon. Public platforms, like IGTV on Instagram and YouTube, carry an ever-evolving repertoire of certified teachers sharing their flows, meditations, and breathing techniques. More often than not, these uploads are entirely free to use. Take some time to find an online teacher who has accessible and knowledgeable sequences that suit your needs and preferences. Some online teachers lead classes at studios, too, so even if they’re teaching from a studio hundreds of miles from where you live, you could support that studio and take their live classes.
While following a teacher’s online flow, setting up your space and honoring the time that you usually set aside for your practice is a must. Grant yourself that time and know you’re worthy of it (because you really are). Enjoy the moments on the mat in the comfort of your home and see if you can see a few bonuses to your home yoga practice that you wouldn’t normally have in a studio. For one, there’s absolutely zero traffic on the way to class, and you really can’t be late anyways.
Beyond the Asana
Some folks were just beginning to dip into their yoga asana (physical) practices. Yoga might be somewhat new to you, so practicing asana at home might not feel wise. That’s completely understandable but it doesn’t mean all of yoga is off the table. There are eight limbs, after all.
Even if you’ve been practicing asana for decades, now is as good a time as ever to check-in on the other limbs and see if you can bring some balance into your sadhana (daily spiritual practice). If you practice asana-only, and pranayama, meditation, and study texts rarely, can you invite some other rituals into your day?
Start small. Before your practice begins, sit down and explore the varied texts related to yoga or Eastern philosophy and spirituality. There are a ton (and I mean, a ton), so pick the one that calls to you. Steep yourself in the pages and see how that transforms and adds to the asana.
From there, peruse online channels, and perhaps the pages of your chosen book, to find some pranayama (breathing practices) you can easily learn on your own. Nadi-Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breath) is a popular pranayama given that it's easy to learn and can be practiced anywhere, at any time of day.
As your sadhana broadens, remain consistent and let it flow. Sometimes you’ll meditate longer than you practice asana. Other days, you might consume an entire book and not make it ‘to your mat’ at all. Find your balance and let your focus be on maintaining it, more or less, rather than moving through dozens of Sun Salutations.
Calling to Your Inner Guru
At the end of the day, you don’t need to go to another country, or even leave your house, to practice yoga. All eight limbs are accessible within your very own physical vessel, breath, mind, and Spirit. That physical vessel might not want to be home for an indefinite period of time, but there’s great freedom through sadhana, especially when you have ample time at home to practice all of yoga. Numerous Gurus have said it, so I feel confident in passing the wisdom on, you’re your own guru. There’s nowhere to go but here, there’s nowhere to be but now. Be here and now, and your yoga practice will find its way into your home life just fine.