Building a home practice is a great way to compliment your time spent in the studio, a meditation circle, or even a busy lifestyle; but it’s not always easy to do. There are so many articles that offer tips for building a home practice, and they may work for you, but I had difficulties with others tips. As any yogi knows, you can fall out of a pose but you have to get right back into it. As a yogi I’ve been doing that with many areas of my life, especially with my home practice. Many tips didn’t work for me, and I was left with creating or finding techniques of my very own; and I want to share these with you.
After trying out many tips online, talking with the Grove Team and other yogis; I’ve established a list of helpful and useful tips that have helped others and me build a home practice.
Set up a Sacred Space for your own practice
This tip has been helpful for other yogis, and even some of the Grove Team. You want to find a space in your home that will be just for you, and build an alter with things that are important to you. I used to keep crystals, sweetgrass, white sage, cedar, an abalone shell, a mala, and my third eye pinecones on my alter. During my practice I would burn incense, or start by cleansing the space with White Sage to set the mood. Some people really benefit from having a space of their own to turn to; however, this tip didn’t work for me, which leads into my second tip.
Set your Mat or Meditation Cushion in a Space you use Regularly
As the sacred space didn’t work for me, I had to come up with something else. This tip has served me well on many occasions. When I had a sacred space, it was out of the way and didn’t help me establish a regular practice. I set up my yoga mat in my living room and left it unrolled; as I spent a lot of time in my living room reading, writing, painting, watching TV, or gazing out the bay window at the lake. Seeing my mat lying on the living room floor inspired me to practice more; maybe first out of guilt but that was key for me in establishing a regular practice. With my mat in a space I was in a lot I found myself practicing two or more times a day, and seeing progress in my practice, body, and mind. Seeing your mat or meditation cushion regularly can inspire you to practice more, which is key to establishing your very own home practice.
Define your Practice – Available time to practice & the technique you’d like to focus on
I cannot stress this tip enough, it’s important to define your practice and what you’d like t achieve. I recommend writing down the times you have available to practice, and be completely honest with yourself here. Your next step will be to decide what you’d like to practice; and re-evaluate what you want to practice as necessary. Define your goals and techniques are essential to building a regular home practice; and they don’t have to be big goals. Remember to take the necessary steps and work your way to bigger goals.
If your goal is to meditate for Sixty Minutes per day, and you’ve never meditated before; you’d want to start slowly. I would recommend starting with ten minutes per day for seven to fourteen days; and then increase your time by five minutes every other week until you’ve reached your goal of sixty minutes per day.
Keep a Journal – and write down reasons for not practicing
This is one of my favourite tips, as it teaches you more about yourself. I recommend keeping a journal next to your mat or meditation cushion, as you may be inspired after your practices; and it gives you a way to watch your progress. This is not the main reason that I recommend keeping a journal; it’s more about seeing the reasons you come up with for not practicing. If you find that you are unable to practice I recommend writing it down in the journal, and explaining why you are unable to practice. After thirty days of building your home practice you can go through your journal and note how you excelled and where you could improve in building your practice at home. This one was key to my home practice because I could see how my moods changed when I got on the mat, and notice the excuses I made to avoid practicing yoga or meditation. Here’s two outlines that will help make your journaling experience easier.
Example #1 - Daily Practice
How were you feeling prior to your practice?
How are you feeling after your practice?
How long did you practice for?
What techniques did you use?
What was successful about your practice?
What needs work in your practice?
Example #2 – No Practice
Why are you unable to practice today?
Are you avoiding your practice?
Create a Library to use Frequently
As a yoga instructor, I’ve found myself getting onto my mat and occasionally being uninspired to practice on my own; which made having a library important to me and my home practice. Sometimes it’s nice to relax and not have to think as much, and putting on a recording of from , or a video of another instructor. Having these libraries of other instructors and meditation guides can help you build a regular and inspiring practice. Don’t hesitate to build and use your library as often as you like to.
Quiet Your Inner Critics
This is one of the most challenging tips that I recommend, but it will be important in succeeding at your goal. It’s not an easy task but it will be one of your biggest challenges in facing your goal. You’ll likely hear your inner critics say, And your mind might start to wander as well. The easiest thing to do is to ignore that voice, and do it despite that voice. If you are the one listening to the inner critic, then who is the critic? Your inner critic is afraid of change, but change is essential to your growth. Here are a few techniques for silencing that inner critic of yours: listen to your negative thoughts as they stem from insecurities that are unmerited; ask yourself this question “would you say this to your five year old self?”; and remind yourself of how awesome you are.
Take Breathing Breaks – to reduce stress and frustration
Building your home practice may come with some stress and frustration, but you can reduce these by taking breathing breaks, or pressing pause. It’s okay to take breaks, especially when you are getting stressed or frustrated; take a step back count to ten or count your breaths.There’s no shame in taking breaks; I find I thrive more after taking breaks, as I come back to my mat and meditation cushion with inspiration and determination.
Pencil it into your Agenda
This is another technique that has worked for me, and it’s writing down the times I want to practice on my calendar. As I spend a lot of time looking at my calendar to schedule classes, appointments and more, it makes the most sense to have my yoga. Meditation and reiki practices listed there. After all you have to take the time out for yourself, and this can help you establish that routine.
Learn the Basics
Sometimes returning to the basics can help you grow your home practice. When I was first learning yoga and taking my practice to my home, I started out by learning the poses and breathing techniques used in the Sun Salutations. It gave me something to practice and learn, and I could often make my time about the sun salutations. To this day, when I get on my mat at home, I still sometimes only do the Sun Salutations for my practice. With meditation you can start with breathing exercises like counting your breaths; inhale – exhale, one, inhale – exhale, two, etc. It’s great to learn the basics and to return to them often, as sometimes they can be the best and only part of your home practice.
Get Comfortable with Yourself
When I first started a home practice, I noticed that I was uncomfortable with myself; my thoughts, my body, the way I breathed. It takes a lot to be completely comfortable with who you are, and it’s the best advice I can offer. When you are completely comfortable with yourself, your practice will change. It won’t matter if you’re doing something perfectly, and it will give you the courage to try new things. Be okay with laughing at yourself, be okay with falling out, be okay with your thoughts, be okay with the idea that you and nobody else are perfect. This opens you up to so many new experiences, and to really being yourself.
Have Fun with It!
It’s essential to build a fun practice that keeps you coming back to your mat or meditation cushion, and it’s relatively simple to do. If you enjoy a particular pose in your yoga practice bring it into your home practice. For meditation, allow yourself to use your favourite techniques; whether that’s breathing, a meditation ring, a blanket, a mala, or lying down. It’s your practice and it’s best to have fun with it.
These are the tips and techniques that helped me establish a regular practice at home. For yoga, meditation and reiki; and I hope they will be helpful for you on your journey to building a home practice.