Ten Essentials Of A Dope Home Yoga Practice

When you’re pressed for time due to the demands of work, travel, family, and public service activities it may be challenging to find the time and space to establish your own personal health and wellness routine.  It might be that you have all good intentions of heading to the gym or yoga studio but the idea of fighting traffic or hustling for a parking space completely turns your mind to your direct path home. Here, I give you 10 easy steps to having a dope home yoga Practice!

Home_Yoga_Practice

1. Respect the limits of your own body.

I know, I know… you can’t touch your toes, or you struggle to cross your legs, and perhaps you just know you are not flexible.  But tell me this, do only kids that know their A-B-C’s get to go to kindergarten? Are you only allowed to go shopping in a store if you know exactly what you want and won’t try on multiple items? The answer to all of these questions is NO.  So, where do the judgment and limiting belief that only people that can touch their toes and stand on their hands can do yoga come from?

No one is expected to come to a yoga practice with any level of flexibility. I just ask that you show up for yourself.  Each of us needs to listen to our body and bend and stretch to our capacity. I always instruct my students to try to find the balance between increasing strength and engagement of the muscles in body vs. punking-out on the pose (don’t be lazy).  You don’t have to do every pose exactly the way the instructor does, listen to your body and go only as far as your body allows.

You don’t have to do every pose exactly the way the instructor does, listen to your body and go only as far as your body allows.

2. Keep breathing! Inhale. Exhale.

Are you holding your breath while reading this? Just checking!  Take a deep breath all the way down into your belly. Exhale slowly. Feels good right!?7

Focusing on the breath is the number one way to come back to the present moment and engage a yoga pose, your meditation, and other mindful activities fully (a great way to maintain focus on a given task as well).  Increasing the oxygen to the brain and muscles will help you gain some level of comfortability as you move your body in new and unfamiliar ways. Don’t confuse unfamiliarity with uncomfortable. Take three deep breaths before giving up.

Increasing the oxygen to the brain and muscles will help you gain some level of comfortability as you move your body in new and unfamiliar ways. Don’t confuse unfamiliarity with uncomfortable. Take three deep breaths before giving up.

3. Maintain a positive mindset.  

Two of my greatest learning lessons in yoga and in life came after 17 years of practicing yoga.

  • My body will often follow my mind. So I should protect what I allow myself to think about and ingest mentally.
  • “My body is not stiff, my mind is stiff.” (Pattabhi Jois).  

If I told myself in my mind that I couldn’t do a pose, the action of doing the pose was difficult, and challenging.  Once I began to silently tell myself, mentally, that I could do the yoga pose, sometimes I would use, The Little Engine That Could Mantra, “I think I can! I think I can!” or one of my favorites “Ali Bomaye!“, I would find my body cooperating and make my way into the pose.  [TWEET-ABLE]

If you tell yourself that yoga is difficult, only for skinny… whatever- people, or you can’t do a pose because of any number of excuses you can come up with; then this will be your experience and you will not grow in your practice.  You may never start.  If you change the story you tell yourself, this challenging but beautiful and rewarding practice, where you make progress gradually, will begin to enrich your life and open you up to new possibilities. 

4. Do yoga on the mat and live yoga off the mat.

Similar to maintaining a positive mindset, take the lessons you learn about yourself and how you face challenges on the mat into the world with you.  When presented with a challenging pose, do you instinctively hold your breath until the instructor reminds you to Inhale and Exhale? Do you notice the same behavior when you are challenged on a conference call or during a meeting?

When presented with a challenging pose, do you instinctively hold your breath until the instructor reminds you to Inhale and Exhale? Do you notice the same behavior when you are challenged on a conference call or during a meeting?

[FREE DOWNLOAD] A Checklist For Your Home Yoga Practice

5. Eating after Yoga, never fear; Eating before Yoga stand clear (get down wind)!

Yoga asanas should preferably be performed on an empty stomach.  

You should wait for a minimum of one hour after a light meal, or four hours after a heavy meal before starting your practice.  The general rule of thumb is to not eat two hours before your yoga practice.

If this is difficult, have a cup of tea, light fruit such as grapes or cherries, or a glass of milk before practice.  After yoga, it is best to eat light fruits and wait at least 30 minutes before eating a heavy meal (just enough time to wait for your brunch table)

6. Find a dedicated space for your yoga practice.  

Making the physical space for your dedicated yoga practice is important.  

When your brain and body know, and don’t have to decide, where to go to practice each time you are ready to do yoga then the decision-making process will not deter you.  It is like the Pavlovian dog effect. 

If possible leave a mat set up in this space. If not, say you are traveling or your yoga practice space is in a high traffic area, perhaps put a marker where the location is. Your marker can be anything that will trigger a mental reminder of your yoga practice.

7. Modify your yoga practice with props!

According to B.K.S. Iyengar in Light on Yoga, “To perform [asanas/postures] one needs a clean airy place, a blanket, and determination while for other systems of physical training one needs large playing fields and costly equipment.”

Therefore, you can practice yoga without all the extras – blocks, blankets, and bolsters to begin with – wherever you are, right now!  

As you learn the poses and learn where you may need support – blankets to add height in the hips to sit comfortably, blocks to help hands reach a steady surface in a forward fold – you can acquire props later.  The most important thing is to get started now.

8. Decorate your space – OR NOT.  

Totally unnecessary, but fun for setting a mood. Make your yoga practice space into a sanctuary of serenity.  Here are a few items that I have in my yoga space to utilize whenever I like:

  • Blocks, blankets, and pillows to use as props for support in poses
  • Journal for writing thoughts
  • Motivational statues and mantras
  • Statues of elephants – inspirational animals for me and significant to the legacy of my sorority
  • Candles. Electronic ones are super safe
  • Sage stick
  • Incense and scented oils
  • Chakra stones

Other than these items I keep my yoga space very neat and clean.  So while ornamentation is cute, it is not a necessity. If you find that every other area of your house is cluttered and you need a clutter free zone, your yoga space can be exactly that!  Also, if you don’t have a dedicated yoga space, perhaps due to a high traffic area, having an indicator of where this space exists for you will be a good trigger to remind you to practice.  

It’s kind of like when someone give driving directions by using landmarks, turn right at the big firehouse or practice yoga here!

9. Set your reminder(s).  

Just like any other appointment that is important to you, you should set a meeting invite for you and your yoga practice.

Set the duration for the time you allotted 10-15-30-45-60 minutes.  Have the reminder set for 10-15 minutes prior to your preferred start time to allow yourself time for getting cleaned up and dressed for your yoga practice. 

Additionally, you may want to set a reminder for the time when your yoga practice will end, so you don’t spend your time looking at the clock. And don’t dismiss the invite without practicing.  The time you take for yoga, meditation and mindfulness is a great wellness tool for the rest of your life. You deserve this time.

10. Have your go to yoga practice.  

Just like it’s easier and quicker to go food shopping if you know which store you are going to and what you need to buy, you don’t want to spend 10 of your 15 minutes dedicated yoga time looking for a routine to follow. So here are three beginner yoga sequences I’ve created just for you:

  • Rise & Unwind – A great pick-me-up for first thing in the morning, or a de-stressor before bed.
  • Just BreathE – Learning to Just BE and breathe through the good and bad times is key to staying in the moment. This video is an intro to meditation.
  • Yoga At Home, At Work, & On-The-Go – Great for before a flight, after lunch, to beat that 2:30P sluggish feeling, or before a doctor’s appointment.  This is a mobile yoga sequence you can take with you!

BONUS: (Because I forgot to add it to the list when I created it) Relax and have fun! Don’t stress yourself out about the ideal space, yoga mat, props, lights or sounds.  Just dedicate some time to yourself. 

Yoga is about much more than your yoga mat and yoga gear. The goal of yoga is to gain align between mind, body, and spirit.  Hopefully, this guide is helpful in aligning your practice with a higher purpose.

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