Good afternoon! Today, I want to discuss how to build an at-home yoga practice. Right now, you may be used to practicing yoga from an app, or Youtube video. Or maybe you attend regular studio classes. I love practicing all of the above, but before I attended Yoga Teacher Training, I was frustrated that I couldn’t practice yoga “alone.” I craved that quiet, comfortable time with myself that a solo yoga practice brings- without other bodies around, or someone instructing me. I wanted to be the teacher and the student, in one. I wanted just me, and my mat.
If that’s what you are also craving, I have some tips of how to create your own, at home beautiful flow sequences. Don’t feel like your sequence needs to be an hour, or 90 minutes. You may want to begin with 15 or 20 minutes, and that’s okay! Maybe it doesn’t flow seamlessly like you’re used to at a studio- also okay! No one is here to grade or judge you. Remembering that this is your practice is what makes it so special.
- Set your intention
You are probably used to creating a space to set your intention at a studio, and this isn’t something you want to skip with your at-home practice. This is the most important part of a yoga session- the centering, balancing and clearing of the mind with a beautiful intent. This is what makes your practice truly “yoga.” The asanas are a benefit- or a moving portion- to your meditation. Choose what resonates with you. Maybe your intent is to focus on the breath, without distraction. Or your intent is to be mindful of your bodies needs throughout your session. Whatever it is for you, choose it, declare it, and let it be.
2. Follow the 5 elements
Use the five elements ( ether, air, fire, water, and earth) to create a beautiful sequence. I learned this during my yoga teacher training, and this is what allowed me to fully comprehend how a yoga session should flow. Using the five elements- ether, air, fire, water, earth- correspond with what your body needs and will be doing during your flow.
- Ether- In the ether portion, this is where you claim your intention we discussed above. Take a moment to clear the mind, set the intention, and to flow through some breathing techniques.
- Air- This is when your body begins to move, into a warm up. In the Air portion, we gently move our bodies in organic movement. Or, you can take some traditional warm ups such as cat/cow, thread the needle, or some simple side stretches.
- Fire- Things will heat up here. Begin to grow the fire within the body by taking some traditional Sun Salutations, and then flow in the more heat-building poses. You want to create an internal fire in the body, allowing this portion to be 10-15 minutes if you are doing a traditional one hour session.
- Water- After the Fire portion, begin to slow and cool down. Think of water flowing over your body putting the fire out. This is the time to be on the ground, incorporating more stretching, yin poses. You can add in pigeon here, or bridge, for example. Begin to slow down, appreciating the body and what it is capable of.
- Earth- Earth is for grounding, and coming back to the body, and the breath. Lay back into Shavasana, and imagine roots coming down through your body into the earth. Feel the connection to the ground below you, and allow yourself to fall into the peaceful, tranquil moment of Shavasana.
3. Set a Commitment-
This is very important. You won’t begin your first at-home yoga sequence as a professional. You may begin, like I do, and then get distracted and ditch the flow. You may get frustrated that things aren’t as seamless as they seem to be in class, and want to throw in the towel. The main objective is to be committed. Stick with it. Commit to practicing at least 15-20 minutes a day, whether or not you feel like you’re doing the best you think you can. Like I said, no one is there to judge or grade you. It’s you, and your mat. It is a beautiful, sacred space.
Remember that an at-home practice is a mental practice. You can go to a studio and allow your body to run through an hour long flow, and leave physically accomplished. When you practice at home, it takes mental discipline, commitment, and focus. This goes beyond your body and fitness. This brings you to a new level of yoga, a practice of you and yourself. Nothing can beat that.
Love and Light.