5 Keys to Developing Your Home Practice

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It’s summer time and the 4th of July is upon us. Studios are offering shortened schedules this week and many of you are going on vacation. We want to make sure you have the tools you need to keep your practice strong, even if you can’t make it in to the studio for class. Enjoy these 5 tips for developing your home practice from Trevor Dye, Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga Instructor.

1. Gratitude
For many practitioners, the spiritual and cognitive aspects of yoga can be overshadowed by the desire for fitness. And with any fitness regimen, repetition for the sake of fitness can feel like a chore and become stale. It’s important to keep your at home practice in perspective. It’s a gift, so anytime it feels labored to step on your mat, remember that not everyone has the knowledge of or access to this sacred practice. Even the days when stepping on the mat seems impossible, take a breath of gratitude, remembering you are endowed with this physical body, this intellectual mind and this gift of yoga.

2. Making Time
Regardless of how busy your life seems, you have time for a personal yoga practice. But the busier your schedule, the more you must manage expectations. Don’t hold the standard of your at home practice to the experience you receive in a studio class. There’s a different energy involved with a group practice, as opposed to being solitude on your mat. Depending on your schedule, your home practice might just be a quick 15-minute jump start to your day. Master Yoga Teacher Mark Whitwell even suggests committing to just 7-minutes per day as a positive step in developing a private practice. However long you find time to come into your practice, give yourself the gift of being fully present on your mat, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

3. Centering and Creating Intention
The best way to remain present in your practice is to take a few moments to calm your mind with deep breathing. This could be your favorite style of pranayama, or just repeating long breath cycles. Centering through deep breathing is our very best tool for unclogging some of the mind clutter, and this isn’t just yogic sepak. When you use deep breathing, you tap into the body’s parasympathetic nervous system. You can think of this as the opposite of the fight or flight response, a moment when your body tells you that everything is ok, there’s nothing to worry about. And it comes from your breathing.

Centering is also a great opportunity for setting an intention or dedicated for your practice. This is simply adding mindfulness to your physical practice, and an intention can be anything you’d like to give or receive during your time on the mat. Drawing a blank for your intention? Try finding a quote relative to a theme or word you’d like to use as a focal point. Try BrainyQuote.com or ThinkExist.com as a starting point for inspiration.

4. Sequence
As previously mentioned, don’t hold your at home practice to the same expectation as your in studio experience. Yoga Instructors are trained to cultivate skillful sequencing, and some even take choreography to a level of artistry. Your at home practice can be much more minimal. Use Sun Salutation A and Sun Salutation B as the backbone of your practice, and pepper in additional postures as you see fit. You can also use Yoga Journal’s sequence builder as an excellent reference tool. One other consideration for sequencing is incorporating the 6-movements of the spine into each practice. Just remember, an elaborate linking of asana isn’t the point, being present in your body and in your practice is of much greater value.

5. Music
When it comes to motivation, music can play a major role in keeping you moving on your mat, especially when aspiring to a longer at home practice. Move to your favorite playlist, or better yet, create yoga specific playlists to suit your mood with online platforms like Grooveshark or Spotify. With these programs, you can create playlists the not only reflect your energy or tempo, but also the amount of time you’d like to spend on the mat that day. Try making a 20-minute playlist, a 40-minute playlist and a one-hour playlist, and use them when it’s appropriate. And as long as the music is still going, so are you. No time for making playlists? Turn on Pandora to your favorite artist and let them handle it for you.

Now get on your mat and enjoy you summer time practice!

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