Once or twice hanging out with yogis and yoginis, I’ve sensed that a daily practice is held up as a badge of authenticity.  That one must practice daily, intensely and seriously to be respected.  Landing on my mat at home and beginning to play was without a doubt a defining point in my life and in my yoga practice, it was when yoga really began to blossom for me! This is when I began to view yoga as a tool to meet the needs of my body and mind and spirit in each moment.   For me a home practice has not been daily.  I believe there’s enough structure, enough dogma and guilt in this world, and it’s not invited to play on my happy green yoga mat.  I also believe in life, life that throws up surprises, change and the occasional calamity, and if my yoga has not made me flexible enough to miss a day on the mat when life shows up, then I’m doing it all wrong! So here are my tips for cultivating a flexible and fun home practice.

Take it home when…

  • You can predict the next pose in your favourite teacher’s sequence!
  • You’re travelling or living away from a class
  • You want to practice without the soundtrack of someone else’s voice
  • You’re curious about taking your yoga to the next level

Creating your yoga spot

Creating a dedicated space at home encourages a home practice.

  • Surround this space with items that inspire you and create ambience– a plant, ornaments, japa (meditation) beads, a singing bowl or bell, a beautiful piece of material, candles and incense
  • Invest in some props like blocks or bolsters
  • Have a cosy blanket for savasana (or a fan if you live in the tropics)
  • Keep some cold pressed black sesame oil nearby for self massage

 Music as inspiration

Ok, I’m a music fiend… BUT music can completely change your home practice experience.  As a way to experience the impact of music, do the same sun salutation sequence to three different songs

For gentle, soothing & relaxing practices check out: Sacred Earth, Anugama, Deuter, Wah!, Dave Stringer, Deva Premal, Krishna Das, Benji Wertheimer, Snatam Kaur, Prem Joshua

For upbeat, funky & playful practices check out: Michael Franti, EarthRise Soundsystem, DJ Drez, Buddha Bar, Bon Iver, Matisyahu, The XX, OKA.

How to start

Sit or lie down.  Tune in.  Scan through your physical body from the top of your head to the tips of your toes and ask yourself “how does my body feel today?”.

Observe your breath, then deepen and lengthen each inhale and exhale.  Especially lengthen your exhales.  Repeat this for ten breaths.

Tune in.  Check in with the more subtle aspects of yourself, your mind, your spirit.  Ask yourself “what is it that I need from my practice today?”.  Your answer may be different each time.  Use what you find to guide your practice.  And use your intuition to guide your yoga.

Consciously release any sense of what your practice should look like. See what unfolds. Tune into the innate intelligence of your body and let it move you.

Some of the most awesome and inspiring transformations arise when you plonk onto your mat without a plan, when you allow playfulness to emerge.

Research a little

Develop a yoga library or borrow books from your local library

A brilliant yoga bible is Light on Yoga by B.K.S.Iyenger

View some yoga blogs online eg  YogaMint, daily Cup of Yoga, Elephant Journal, Yoga Dork

Jot notes after a favourite class so you can use these sequences in your own home practice

Yoga with a friend is better

  • You can inspire each other, share your favourite poses, take turns at leading the practice
  •  Get outside onto the lawn or in a park

Take yoga with you wherever you may wander…

  • Find a creative place to sit
  • Stand in tree pose at the sink to wash your dishes
  • When hanging up washing, balance on your tiptoes
  • For driving or travelling on the bus do simple pranayama (breathing) like taking deep yogic breaths
  • Do twists at your computer

“Do your practice and all is coming”  Sri K Pattahbi Jois

Namaste, may your home practice bring you joy, insight, peace and a little bendiness.

Riss Carlyon, Co-founder and Yoga Teacher, Amber Tree Yoga & Retreats