Sweet jesus, I love Meghan Currie. This yogini is seriously stealing my heart with her YouTube videos. This is the one that I really love, like, so much, but I'm apparently technologically illiterate so I can't figure out how to embed it into Blogger.
The reason I super love this video is that this girl totally gets what a home practice is all about. It should be about fun and lightheartedness and totally just enjoying bending and twisting and playing on your mat.
I've been struggling to keep a consistent yoga practice at home, which is fine because I've been studying at the studio where I teach almost every day. But a home practice is really important to any yogi that seriously wants to deepen their practice, and for every other yogi who doesn't feel like dropping $18 on a yoga class thrice a week.
First of all,
A home practice doesn't have to mean asana. It doesn't have to be all Sun Salutations and Chaturangas and sweating all over shit. It simply means creating a space, in a place, in a position or two that you can simply be. I think I read somewhere that the asanas are simply practiced so that you can find out what the best posture is in which your body can meditate (lightly paraphrasing Sri Dharma Mittra I believe?). For me, that sure the shit isn't handstand. It's more like Warrior II or Wide Angle Pose (my faves) or really anything that doesn't involve an extended period of time balancing on my two little T-Rex sticks of arms. It could be Child's Pose, it could be Savasana. Seriously. Whatever you want, young grasshoppers.
Second of all,
Home practice is just that. It's at home and it's your practice. You're not at the studio, so you don't have to act like you're at the studio. Do it in sweatpants, do it in a cocktail dress, do it half naked like Megs up there. Do it with music, hip-hop or funk. Do it with no props, or seven, or the entire contents of your kitchen cabinet. You can sit on your mat and bawl your eyes out for 10 minutes and that counts. Also counting? Lighting a candle and singing aloud to Ziggy Marley. Make it fun, make it easy, make sure you're smiling at least part of the time. See Meghan? She does a little dance move every now and then before getting into her next pose. Add a dance move or a yoga move that you make up yourself.
It really is just about getting into the habit, everyday, of rolling out your mat, sitting on it, being quiet, and giving up all of those thoughts that seem to natter on incessantly throughout your day. Your home practice will change, everyday, every week, every year. You may start today with Ziggy and zen and next year you'll be flowing for 90 minutes without even remembering why you bitched about starting a home practice in the first place.
Third of all,
Home practice is a time for you to work on the things that you don't have the space or the balls to work on in the studio. That means flying that Crow or giving a word up to Eight Angle Pose or falling eleventy jillion times out of headstand (but gently, yogis! We don't need neck injuries, ya hear?). Some days, I want to work on inversions so bad I basically go from bed to headstand. Some days, all I want to bend the shit outta my back so I'm all flowing to Madonna's "Open Your Heart to Me" and Wheel Posin' it up. So if you're really not interested in 8 rounds of Sun Salutations, do a ton of core work and get to Pigeon or whatever it is you really wanna do.
So really, then, how do you start?
1. Location, location, location.
It's not as much about what location it is, but the fact that you pick one that's important. Maybe it's outside under your orange tree (watch for dead branches. Widowmakers, we call them!). Maybe it's in your room along a wall for support. Maybe it's in your big wide open kitchen with tons of light and air. Maybe it's all three on any given day. But pick a place that screams SERENITY NOW! and you'll be well on your way.
2. Mat it up.
Roll, roll, roll it out. Get your mat, a block, a candle, some scented loveliness, or anything else that you think will inspire you to sit and just be. Bring a book of teachings, or fun quotes. I love "Creative Visualization" by Shakti Gawain because it has all these little tidbits about creating a perfect life that I can meditate on while I already have that mat rolled out. Two birds! One stone! Whatever it takes to get you on your mat, get it and go for it.
3. Start with breathing.
Because breathing is easier than holding your plank pose for 5 minutes, and you literally have to do it or else you'll die. If you don't already have a favorite breathing exercise, I like to squeeze one nostril closed with one thumb, breathe in through it, then close the other nostril with the ring finger of the same hand and breathe out through that same nostril. Or if that doesn't make any fucking sense, just breathe in while counting to 10, pause at the top, and breathe out while counting to 10.
4. Get quiet.
Right, so I know I just said that you can listen to some music while you start your home practice. And I stand by it. I danced for a long, long, long time and for whatever reason, I have the most fun when I've got some jams on. Music signals movement to me, and whether it's an instrumental version of the Gayatri Mantra or "Good Day" by Nappy Roots, you can bet I'm listening. But music is also a cue for me to turn off my brain and turn on my body. I can't tell you how many times I've been performing or practicing and don't even remember doing any of the moves (and no, I was not drunk). So getting quiet is more about doing whatever you need to do to shut off the thoughts and the unresolved issues that are bouncing around in your brain. If that's jammin' to Madonna, so be it (I know I will).
5. Seriously. Have fun.
I used to hate when people ended lists with this tip, but I think in this case, it's particularly relevant so I'm violating my own rule. Dance on your mat, swing around and do some body rolls. Laugh a ton, cry a bit, work on your best Gangam Style impression. Do the same yoga pose over and over again. You'll never start a home yoga practice if you dread it, so why not make it a little light and fun. Not every practice at home will be good. Some of mine suck and end up with me degenerating into like a 20 minute Savasana just to say I practiced for 20 minutes. But it really is all good, because as long as you give yourself permission to be YOU on your yoga mat, it will stop feeling like a chore and start feeling like fun.
Hey yogis, tell me if, when, and how you get your butts to the mat every week! Comment below and give me some tips I may not have even thought about!