Cultivating a home yoga practice takes time. It’s one of those aspects of yoga that we can be really resistant to. We want a teacher, a classroom, guidance, adjustment and to know if we’re ‘doing it right’. Well, firstly, if you’re on a yoga mat then you’ve already got the important part right. You’re saying yes to your body and being curious about what this human being business is all about.
When you are alone on your mat you can really listen to your body speak and start to tap deeper into your intuition. Back in the day, yogis were carrying out all manner of weird experiments by exploring what it means to be embodied. What happens when you stay in this pose. Breathe in this way. Practice that concentration technique. Sit in meditation. They were interested in what happens when you tune into the different messages, signals, frequencies and insights that start to get clearer when you get more curious. Intrigued? Well here’s some ideas to help you get started in your own laboratory.
Getting your mat out can be the hardest thing when you’re trying to develop a home practice. All kinds of fears come up and you doubt yourself - I don’t know enough, I’m not good enough, I’m not experienced enough, I wouldn’t know where to start. But that’s just your egoic mind, jibber jabbering. Tell it to pipe down and listen a little deeper. You body wants to be heard. It wants to move and play and grow. It wants your creative energy to be channeled and unleashed and stepping onto the yoga mat will be the spark that kindles the fire. Trust in yourself and let your body tell you how to move and how far to go.
2. Set the space
You can roll your yoga mat out anywhere but setting a dedicated space cements your intention. Each time you come back to that space, you’re reaffirming your practice, tapping into a deeper self and building a resonance and remembrance in your body. If possible, set the space, light a candle, burn some incense and make room for those good intentions to grow.
Even if you just sit on your mat and watch your breath for five minutes, you’ve listened. And sometimes that’s all it takes to start to move. Just go to your mat, sit, breathe and see what happens. Don’t think too much about it. Reach up, reach out, sweep, sway, fold, extend. Let your body move and sync up with your breath. Remove the expectation and judgement and crack on.
4. The power of the playlist
If moving freely feels uncomfortable then put some music on and go through a few sun salutations. As much as we all love Taylor Swift, be selective and choose music without lyrics. Deep basslines and beats can tap into your primal energy and classical music can sweeten and lighten your movement. Create a playlist that mirrors a journey you might like to go on and see where it takes you. Alternatively, listen to our yoga mixtapes which we release the first week of every month on our journal.
Sahadja is the spontaneous rising up through the feeling body. It’s what happens when you are so dropped in, that source opens you up and a sequence just happens. Breathe, meditate, put some music on and just start to move. Try not to think about poses or what comes next. Trust and let it unfold.
If Sahadja feels a little daunting then kick things off with a few Namaskars. These can come in the form of sun salutations, moon salutations, full pranam namaskar or a mixture. Have a look online or ask one of your teachers. Doing 5 sun salutations a day will do wonders and you’ll find that once you get moving, the shapes will come and, before you know it, you’ll be flying from a Virabhadrasana II (Warrior 2) into Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon) quicker than you can say Urdvha Prasarita Eka Padasana (Standing Split).
7. Go Online
Online classes can be a lifesaver if you can’t get to class. They’re also great if you’re fairly new to yoga or want to practice at home but still want some guidance Try The Mat Movement, Yogaglo.com CodyApp, Movement for Modern Life or Gaia TV.
8. Get inspired
Geek out on YouTube and watch some Dylan Werner videos. To see the yogi in full flow and the human body moving with such grace and power can be all you need to roll out your mat. You can also find lots of great videos on myth, meditation and mantra. And if the anatomical side of things gets you excited then get the Visible Body App. It's the shit.
9. Stick to what you know
What do you know? Write it down. Think of every pose you ever stepped into and write it down. It doesn’t have to be in Sanskrit. Just have a stab at writing down a sequence and you might surprise yourself. A few Sun Salutations, Triangle, Warrior I, II and III, Half Moon, forward fold, low lunge, high lunge, pigeon. Don’t worry too much about the order they go in for now. See what feels good in your body and follow that.
10. Don’t stick to what you know
Mix it up. Practice non-attachment and beginner’s mind. Go to different classes, experience different styles, try new teachers and stay open. Take their teachings home with you and explore on your own terms. No one can really teach you yoga, they can guide you but only you can know what you experience.