The end of the year is a busy time for all of us, with all the commitments Christmas entails, and that can often takes us away from our regular yoga practice at a studio with a teacher.
It can be frustrating to let go temporarily of that precious mind-body time in our week, but we believe a flexible approach to self-care is key to keep grounded throughout this period and beyond.
Steph Wall, owner and principal teacher at the Kali Collective, has put together for you her 10 best tips to help strengthen your home practice and navigate the end of the year busy-ness peacefully.
For years I struggled with maintaining a home practice. I made a million excuses, such as I didn’t have the space, I didn’t know what I was doing or I didn’t know how to do it right. But after discovering these techniques, I slowly created a strong home practice. Now I wake up early every morning to move in my own way. During this time, I find my balance, my grounding and my strength to set me up for a beautiful day. This is also where I create sequences to teach during class. This alone time where I can express myself fully. The creativity that arises from my home practice is staggering and exactly what I need to be able to share my practice with others.
10) Find a quiet place. Set yourself in a place where you know you won’t be interrupted. I prefer to set my mat at the end of my bed rather than in the living room because I know no one will bother me in my room. Finding a quite space is vital for me, otherwise I have the constant worry of being interrupted during my private practice.
9) No distractions. Phone off. Tell your roommates or family members you need this time for yourself and can’t be bothered. Make it clear to others and to yourself that this is alone time for you.
8) Music. Set a playlist that you know you can run for a while without wanting to change the song. For me, music has always been my escape. Whether it’s the Nine Inch Nails or Bon Iver, when I practice with my favourite tunes in the background, I know I’m allowed to wander into my own world.
7) Keep the lighting low. I really enjoy practicing in the near dark, either as the sun is rising or after it has set. Losing that sense of sight by not seeing myself in studio mirrors or even my own body in the light, allows me to just feel what’s going on in my body. What I look like doesn’t matter, as it never really should.
6) Take advantage of online resources. It’s amazing how many free classes are online. Just google or youtube free yoga practices. Being guided by someone at home opposed to a studio, allows you to create a space in your home that belongs to yoga. This is a great way to get you moving at home until you are able to turn off your computer and move in your own way.
5) Educate yourself on the basics. This allows you to stay safe. Once you start moving on your own, take the time to figure out the basics. When is it safe to do deeper back bends, twists etc? By trusting and listening to your body, you should have a good gauge of what’s right and wrong.
4) Ditch trying to make a sequence. It is not necessary to have a perfect sequence created in order to practice on your own. Yoga teachers have done hours of sequence training to develop creative, safe ways to move. For now, maybe consider covering the basics first before making longer sequences. Do one or two poses at a time until you become more comfortable and able to remember a longer order of poses. And if you try something and forget it by the time you get to the other side? Who cares! Do it when you remember.
3) Keep your practice short. It can seem intimidating to try to create an entire 60-90 minute class on your own. Try setting a goal of moving for just 10 minutes on your own. Once you become more comfortable being your own teacher, you will find that you need more and more time for your practice but let that come naturally.
2) Trust yourself. You don’t need to be a yoga instructor to be able to do your own home practice. As long as you know how to stay safe, anyone can practice yoga alone. If you are unsure about a pose, try it, close your eyes and go with how it feels in your body. Your body know’s what’s right or wrong. When you no longer have a teacher there to tell you the correct alignment, you then need to check in with the physical feeling of the pose in your body. If it doesn’t feel right, play around.
1) Stop thinking! Just move. Your practice doesn’t need to be or look perfect. Shut your brain off, forget about being your own teacher and instead do what feels great. Just because you do a warrior 2 every single studio class doesn’t mean you need to do that at home. In fact, take that time to explore other things. Breathe, listen, honour and move.
Take time to develop your practice. Let yourself make “mistakes” and enjoy the expressions that arise within you.