Starting Your At-Home Yoga Practice
Like many of us, I started yoga in a hot yoga studio and only ever practiced yoga if I was in there with a room full of people. There’s a certain energy to the room to be breathing, sweating, moving, and growing together. It was after many years of this style of practice that I eventually asked one of my Thai Massage teachers where I should study to get the real depths of yoga philosophy, and she pointed me in the direction of a few teachers in Baltimore who had regular classes.
It was a few months in those classes - much different than the hot yoga - that inspired me to take group trainings. Some were just for my own growth and development, and eventually my first full 200 hour yoga teacher training.
But it was there, in that room of committed people wanting to learn more about yoga, breath, and philosophy, that I finally started learning the tools to equip me to practice on my own, at home, every day.
It was also there that I was first inspired to practice every day.
Starting your home yoga practice doesn’t need to be full-fledged 60+ minute daily practices. And, it doesn’t require you to take a yoga teacher training (though I would 100% promise you it would only benefit you in innumerable ways!)
It’s as simple as incorporating postures and breathing practices that suit you for your day, even just 10 minutes long first thing when you wake up.
There are endless resources on blogs and youtube videos and in books and podcasts. I don’t wish to “recreate the wheel” with this blogpost either, but I do wish to share with you some of the tools that have helped me to get started, back when I was just beginning.
So where to begin?
It’s unique to you, is the honest answer.
Generically, you *will* need to have some idea about yoga to begin practicing at home. Here are some ideas:
~ Start by going to local classes (and you can always ping me about what I think of the class/teacher/community!) and while in the practice with the teacher, make a mental note of what felt good or effective to you. Try doing it at home right when you get back from class, while it’s fresh. Go as many times as needed for you to learn a little in-person before attempting on your own.
~ Scour youtube for videos that really work for you, and follow along with the teacher at home. This can be the “tip toe” step before practicing alone, without a teacher. My past, present, and future teacher is Martha McAlpine - find her videos here, where she does daily live recordings primarily with Kundalini Yoga.
~ Read all the books! God, there really are so many valuable ancient yoga texts and modern application-style books. I have multiple bookshelves full, myself. The very first yoga book I ever read was during a mini training with Martha. Wanderlust: A Modern Yogi’s Guide to Discovering Your Best Self by Jeff Krasno.
It’s exhaustive, thorough, and beautifully collected. It shares sequences and flows with creative stick-figure drawings. It offers playlists to accompany your practice, writing prompts, a lot of philosophy in a not-so-heady and actually quite accessible way, and beautiful imagery. This book will take you on a journey, if you’re ready.
~ Implement a little at a time, daily. As a former instrumental music teacher, I can tell you that 20 minutes per day 6 days per week is far more valuable and effective than trying a 1 hour practice twice per week. It’s consistency that is key, in all forms of practice. Trust me, there’s lots of science and research on this - I know you know that too! But actually following through is the tricky part!
With daily practice, even just a few minutes, you’ll begin to create a stronger sense of connection to your body, breath, heart, and mind. This will develop your own innate intuition! And each time you “get on your mat,” you’ll have greater awareness of what your body needs.
I go through phases/seasons with my personal practice. At times I do the same yoga set for a couple months straight, every day. At other times I’ll tweak that yoga set a little by shortening or lengthening certain postures, adding in others that feel right, omitting ones that don’t work that day, but ultimately doing the same set. And at other times, my practice is a wild conglomeration of whatever feels good in my body that day. Admittedly, there are also times where I miss a day or two straight, and then get back on the ball. It’s all part of my flow.
There’s benefit to listening to what your body needs and setting a container for how long you’ll practice (say, 30 minutes daily)...
There’s also benefit to doing the exact same practice day after day after day to develop muscle memory and allow for deepening your self-awareness. Typically, this is what I do. The practice deepens and I’m more in contact with spirit as the days go by. In Kundalini Yoga, we practice a specific set for a minimum of 40 days - the length of time said to form a habit. When that time has passed, I often continue on for 90 days with the same set.
As a woman in touch with her menstrual cycle (and not altered by hormonal birth control - more on that later!), I also find I need to alter my practice slightly at that key time of the month. I won’t do inversions, breath retention with root lock (mula bandha), or breath of fire (kapalabhati). Those are contraindicated for heavy bleed days.
Again, your home practice is unique to you. Where you start may not matter - all that matters is that you begin. “Just do it,” as Nike coined. A little at a time, every day, and you’ll come to be more flexible, grounded, calm even amongst the storms of life, and in-touch with yourself.
I can’t think of a single drawback to doing yoga. Can you?
Reach out to me if you want personalized direction to starting your practice - I can be a guide whether in-person in Boulder, Colorado, or remote on zoom around the world. I can create practices catered to you, offer you sequences, insights, breath practices, and resources galore.
Or, I’d be happy to just answer any questions you have.
I’m here for you!