Home Practice vs. Studio Practice
Your home practice will NEVER be the same as your studio practice. It just isn't possible to practice alone and expect the same results. Rather than try to mimic the studio experience, here a
An obvious up-side to a home practice is the virtually free cost. Just because you're not paying, doesn't mean that your experience can't be enhanced by other free tools such as youtube, podcasts Yoga Journal Magazine, and library books.
Studio bills can get a bit pricey. However, be sure to look for Karma classes, pay-what-you-can or donation classes. Most communities offer them. This allows you the opportunity, even if it is only once a week to practice alongside others, receive fresh ideas from teachers, listen to alignment cues, and evaluate your own progress. Some locations also offer trade programs, service in exchange for classes.
Sometimes the cost per class seems like something we just can't afford. And there are plenty of times that is true, just please don't dismiss yoga as "being too expensive." Yoga teachers spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours training, and most of them never stop investing time and money to further their training. They put in hours developing their sequences, their playlists and their understanding of the human body, anatomy, and alignment. They read books upon books about the ancient texts, nutrition, diet, ayurveda, and more. When you think of what a doctor, psychologist, or nutritionist charges... it may be worth it to evaluate if we can redirect some of our finances towards being proactive about the state of our mind, body and soul.
Many practitioners come to the practice of yoga looking for a tribe of like-minded beings. Sometimes this happens quickly and easily, sometimes it takes a bit of time and effort. There are times where I feel incredibly connected, and others where it feels incredibly forced, but there's something beautiful about both. A quick chat with my neighbor a few months ago helped me to find a brand of skin care that has been an absolute game changer for me. We may not be besties, but that simple exchange has brought me tremendous relief.
A home practice is isolated. You are alone. This does take the pressure off. You don't have to think twice about how oily your hair is, the state of your skin, your weight or your outfit. You don't have to worry about what your breathing sounds like, or how many times you have to stop and take a break. Being around others that are capable of performing more advanced asanas that you, can be utterly exhausting, discouraging, and frustrating. Practicing alone allows us to focus on our own development, it allows us time to process our own energy and not be influenced by others. Just be careful not to get too caught up in your comfort zone. Being around others, can be a really good motivator, and sometimes it can remind us to appreciate the fact that we are capable of things that others aren't.
Practicing from home means less time commuting, win! But how much time should we devote towards our home practice? Should it be 60, 75 or 90 minutes just like it is at the studio?
Most likely, you will realize your practice goes much faster at home than it does when someone else is cueing you. Watching videos, using music or times can help to satisfy this. It also just takes practice. The beauty is, you don't have to practice for ANY specific amount of time. You may choose to incorporate movement into your entire day, for example, I love to spend 30 minutes moving between child's pose and some others when I first wake up. I leave my phone on snooze as a signal to change positions, or wake me if I dozed off! When I find myself waiting for the microwave, I do a few sun salutations.
In the beginning, your home practice will not provide you with the same WOW factor that being in a studio does. You may not practice as long, or push yourself as hard. You may skip savasana and become overwhelmed by the noise of your own thoughts. Just remember THAT is part of the practice. Yoga is about creating unity and any step we take, whether under the instruction of a teacher, video, book, or under own innate care, we are furthering ourselves in our journey towards oneness, and towards our Higher Self.
Set reasonable goals for yourself and watch with time as your practice evolves, both in and out of the studio.
4 things NOT to wear when you practice at home
Just because you aren't going out in public, doesn't mean that you can wear just anything.
Here are a few things I've discovered:
Wearing socks when you practice can be disastrous... take it from me, I was wandering around doing some chores when I decided to see if I could land forearm stand... well, I landed it... right on my face. I was wearing big fuzzy socks and when I went to kick up, my sock slid, leaving me in a heap on my face. Thank goodness I only broke my glasses and not my neck. (They do make yoga socks if you're house is too cold to forego socks!)
2. The wrong top
This is not about shaming the nipple... I'm all about being topless when and where it's accepted, it's just that when they're slipping and sliding out of your shirt, it's very distracting. Do yourself a favor and offer yourself the support, not for modesty sake, but for your own concentration. Your girls will thank you.
Loose shirts may look great in the magazines, but in many cases they can be a very bad yoga companion, falling down to expose your stomach, covering up your face... there's a reason that most shirts are form fitted.
Now, there are some exceptions to this of course... I happen to love rolling out of bed and onto the floor to loosen up my body and wake up to the day. However, when I go to practice a more vigorous series, such as a Vinyasa Flow, I am more likely to follow through my intention if I am wearing proper attire. My outfits seldom match, but taking the extra step of changing is just a reminder that this time is devoted to yoga, not couch surfing.
4. Fashion trends
From the super strappy sports bras, to the mesh lined tights.... the good part about your home practice is that your yoga outfit does not need to have all the bells and whistles. Your tights can be see thru, your shirt can be baggy and none of it has to match. You CAN even practice yoga wearing sweatpants and an old freebie t-shirt. Just because it's new, does not mean it's better, and in many cases, the fact that we don't need to worry about leaving our home, means we don't need to fuss with all the additional street to studio add-on accessories.
There are a lot of brands currently making really beautiful and thoughtful clothing, but just remember they are a business like any other. In order to practice yoga, you do not NEED any of it. Select clothes that you can afford, items that move with you, and most importantly, clothing that don't get in your way, As a teacher, I have heard it all and seen it all, and what I am certain that your devotion to your yoga practice is not reflected in your clothing, rather it is demonstrated by how comfortable you are in meditation.
The first step to developing a home practice is finding a space that is conducive to your practice. Things to consider:
1. Can you move freely? Is there enough room?
Are you able to lift your arms overhead without hitting a light fixture or fan? Can you practice handstands without kicking furniture or breaking valuables?
Do you have to move your coffee table every time you want to practice?
2. Is the floor supportive (and clean)?
Depending on your practice, having a firm surface beneath you is important for protecting your wrists. I love doing my gentle practice on nice rugs or carpeted areas in my home, but I prefer to practice downdog on a firm floor such as the linoleum in my kitchen, or out on the deck.
I don't have sensitive knees, but I have found that I do need to bring an extra blanket with me when I practice in my driveway or on my deck. Gathering these props at the beginning of practice, avoids the disruption of going back inside to gather them.
3. Eliminate distractions
Turn your cell-phone to airplane mode (if you can), close the browser on your computer, turn off the tv. While it might be tempting to "squeeze in a little yoga" while you get caught up on your netflix/hulu binging... let's be honest... that's called stretching, not yoga. If you want to use your phone or computer for music, by all means, put that technology to work, but make sure you don't fall into the blackhole of online shopping or social media binging and waste the hour you set aside for your practice.
4. Do a 5 minute pick up and avoid doing chores during this time
As much as we love to avoid doing dishes, vacuuming, putting the piles of clutter away, there seems to be no time as good as yoga time to begin creating external order.... just remember external order does not equal internal order. Designating a space where we can't see all the "to-dos" helps tremendously.... after all that's why most studios are so barren, the props are always neatly stacked, etc... it's conducive for creating an environment free of distraction.
5. Offer yourself whatever privacy you need
According to instagram, a lot of people find it endearing to have their pets crawling on them during practice, I however find it incredibly distracting. Now that I teach, I don't mind knowing my neighbors may be watching me, but if the prospect of the local dog-walker seeing you in downdog on your porch makes you cringe, make sure you select a space away from spying eyes. Closing doors while family is home can foster a nice reminder that this is YOU time.
It may take time to discover the best location in your home, and that's ok! Each and everyone of these tips came from a "failed" home- practice session of my own. (If you only knew how many times I set out with the intention to practice for an hour, but found the dirt on my carpet to be too unbearable...) Just remember, they call it practice for a reason!
If you have any additional tips on How to Select a Location in your home for Building your Home Yoga Practice, please share them in the comments below!