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So you come to yoga class - that’s great! 

But I have a question to ask you!
Do you do any practice at home?

 If you’re brand new to yoga, and still finding your feet (sometimes literally!), it can feel daunting to try some of the movements on your own. You might worry you’re not doing it “right,” get confused about how you “should” be breathing, or want to put together something specific to help you with a health issue you have - but you’re not sure which poses would be best for you.  

 I’m a huge believer in developing a home practice. This month’s blog is all about helping you to think about how you can make that happen, and the benefits if you did!

What will a home practice do for you?

There’s probably all sorts of reasons why we may not practice at home but finding the motivation and telling ourselves we don’t have enough time, or don’t feel confident enough are usually pretty high up on the list of excuses we give ourselves!

2 darned good reasons to give home practice a go…..

  1. You develop far better self- awareness
    When you’re in a class, no matter how much the teacher allows you to experience what’s going on for you, you’re following someone else’s routine, and the opportunity to think about how your body feels at that specific moment, and choose a routine which helps you self soothe or self-regulate is not as strong.
    When you practice at home - you notice how the body feels - and you choose the poses you feel will help you at that specific time. It’s almost self-indulgent! If you fancy doing down dog - you do down dog! If you’re feeling stressed and just want to do legs up the wall - then that’s what you do!

    This is self-care at its best.

  2. Exponential growth - for just a few minutes a day
    When you practice regularly, even if it’s just for a few minutes at a time, there is a cumulative effect on your progress. Think of it a bit like a rocket - it takes a lot of energy and effort to get off the ground - but once it’s up there, it becomes almost effortless. I promise you, you don’t have to do an hour, or even half an hour - but 15 minutes a day, or even 4 days a week, could make a significant difference to your health, your overall sense of well-being and your ability to withstand the pressure of modern life. It’ll keep you looking and feeling younger too! Massive bonus as far as I’m concerned!

                                                How to design your own home routine

Here’s a few tips to help you design a home yoga practice:

  1. Start with quiet
    Every class I run begins with at least a few moments to just bring your attention inward; to still your mind, and to notice how your body feels. This doesn’t just ground you, and help you draw your attention away from the “busy-ness” of your life, but helps you become more aware of how your body is feeling - right then and there. Armed with that knowledge, you can choose where you go from there.
  2. Pick a direction
    So now you’ve “tuned in” to how you feel, you can decide perhaps if you feel the need to really move and do a more vigorous practice, or maybe you’re tired, or pressed for time and just need a short, restorative practice. If you need grounding and stability, focus on standing poses. Maybe there’s a specific part of the body which needs easing out? It’s your choice.
  3. Choose poses you love
    There are so many yoga poses there is no way you can do them all in a practice! 
    In my own practice I have some poses I love which are staples for me - doing them 3 or 4 times a week. Some routines/flows I choose because I know they make me feel good - and some poses I’m working on because I’d just like to master them and increase my flexibility!
    However, if you start with what you love rather than the most challenging poses, it’ll help reinforce what a lovely habit you’re developing - so you’re less likely to give up!
  4. Pay attention in class
    Try taking mental notes in class. Maybe there are some routines or poses you do and you think, oh that was great! I really enjoyed that. Make a note of what you did - and have a go at practising these at home!
  5. Try to move the spine in each of its 7 directions
    In my own classes some of my longer standing students must be sick of hearing me say what I'm about to say next! But a well- balanced routine will allow your body to move in each of the seven directions - up; sideways, forwards and back and twisting. See if you can incorporate this into your home routine.
  6. Carve out a space and time in your life
    This is SO important! Try to create a small, uncluttered space where you can practice. Placing a few candles, or pretty objects nearby and maybe using music which makes you feel good will also help make this a pleasurable experience you’ll want to repeat.

Taking even a little bit of time to practice grounds and inspires you, so that, when you return to your “to-do” list you are more focused and productive. I’ve come to realise when I practice, even for just a few minutes at the start of my day - somehow, the rest of my day seems just a little bit better - whatever life throws at me!

I hope you do too.  Your mat awaits!

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Shona Garner

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