Develop a Home Practice
One of the difficult steps to take on the yoga journey is in establishing a home practice.
It is relatively easy to take ourselves off to a class once or twice a week. We have teachers to hold our hand, provide inspiration, give us a sequence, give us energy through the force of their command but can we do it alone?
The Yoga Sutras tell us something which anyone who has given the subject a little contemplation. That an essential part of our journey is Tapas. BKS Iyengar defines Tapas as sustained courageous practice. In Light on Life, Iyengar describes a paradox facing those on the journey to yoga. He says that in order for us to get what we truly need and will eventually want, it is often necessary for us to do things we don't want. This is where tapas comes in. We need to muster some of that courage and just do it.
We need to establish a practice for ourselves. The practice needs to be regular, of significant duration and focus. It all sounds pretty straightforward. It is of course anything but. I offer the following insights into my way into practice.
- STEP ONE Get yourself a yoga mat. I tried for some to me to practice without a proper mat but without success. Just get a mat.
- STEP TWO - Get some basic props. A belt, shoulder stand cushions or blankets, a belt, and one or two blocks. A bolster is nice to have also. Once again you can try a improvise and most homes will have some items that can be used, but often it's just easier to get the stuff and to leave it packed up and ready to go.
- STEP THREE - Dedicate some practice time. This of course is the biggest obstacle for many of us. We are so busy and have so little time to spare..or at least that's what we tell ourselves. My suggestion is to start off with a very short but regular practice of 10 minutes per day. This is how I got started.
Each morning I would get up, roll out my mat and do a short routine of sitting poses, a dog pose, and a short Savasana. That's it. Into the shower and off to work.
My sitting pose was a routine of Gomukasana (sitting between the feet variation) with the arm variations. It doesn't sound like much but I became very disciplined and did it every day for about a year. Occasionally I would get adventurous and do a couple of standing poses when I had extra time like on the weekend but I didn't set the bar too high. After about a year of this routine, my work situation changed and I got more time to practice. I then expanded to a half-hour practice and over a period of time I built up to over an hour. The key in my experience was to not press beyond my capacity to discipline myself.
I kept attending classes of course for the longer sessions and inspiration.
This early short practice approach was very successful for me and helped me to taste the wonderful benefit of regular practice. On the rare occasion when I missed my little practice I noticed the difference. I also noticed I was able to better participate in the class I attended. My Gomukasana improved immensely.
My other suggestion is to make the Savasana as still and as deep as you can. Savasana is an incredibly wonderful asana and its benefits can be felt throughout the busy day.
The book How to Use Yoga is great support. It includes helpful practice sequences. These days, Alan Goode's wonderful book Yoga Sadhana provides an excellent guide to deepening one's own practice as are the Yoga Mandir-themed asana classes available SOON through iYogaprops.
Get yourself a yoga mat and get into it for 10 minutes a day.
Iyengar Yoga Teacher
& owner of iYogaprops