I live in a very rural location with no access to regular yoga classes.
But yoga is one of my great joys in life, so I’ve had to figure out how to keep my yoga practice up, despite my location.
When I lived in Charlotte, with access to several yoga studios, my teachers regularly reminded us students about the importance of creating a home practice – in addition to coming to studio classes. Back then, I could never really figure out how to make it happen, so I just kept studio time as my yoga time.
Now, however, I’ve finally figured out how to keep a regular home practice going, so I thought I would share my tips here, from the point of view of someone who is a practitioner, but not a yoga teacher.
Whether you are in a remote location and don’t have access to a studio, or you are working from home and need a way to balance out all your sitting time, maybe this will help.
Start in a Studio
Before you can have a really good home practice, I think you’ll need to have a really good studio practice.
Youtube videos may be convenient and free, but they don’t replace a live teacher who can adjust your hands for you when they are in the worst possible position for downward dog, or help you get into a pose that you can’t figure out.
I used to attend YogaOne in Charlotte – the studio where my very favorite classes were held – where the teachers are very well trained in hands-on assists.
It is one of the things I love about that studio, and the adjustments I received there from yoga teachers and assistants were not only yummy, but extremely instructive to me in growing my practice.
I never would have deepened my yoga practice to the extent I did without these hands-on assists.
So I recommend not only that you start your yoga practice (if you don’t have an established practice yet) in a studio, but find one where the teachers give you a lot of feedback.
Home Practice Doesn’t Look Like a Studio Class
My very favorite yoga classes at YogaOne were deep stretch classes. These were yin-style classes that lasted 1.5 hours, and were a total treat, a deep dive into relaxation.
I wouldn’t miss my weekly Friday and Sunday evening deep stretch classes for anything – just ask my family! These classes were my favorite part of the week and my main means of keeping stress at bay.
When I moved out here to Utah, I figured I’d just repeat these at home. Having attended them religiously for four years, the poses (and the teachers’ explanations of them) were ingrained into by body and my brain.
I tried to recreate my deep stretch experience here in my living room, and although it has happened a handful of times, I have never been able to keep 1.5 hours of yoga on our weekly schedule.
I finally stopped trying to make my home yoga practice look like those classes looked, or last as long as they did. Because trying to live up to that wonderful mat time meant that I was instead, missing mat time entirely.
Here’s what I came up with instead. I break my yoga up into three sessions that I do every day during my work week:
- I do three or four standing poses in the morning together with my hubby, before he goes to work. No mats or special clothing required for this one.
- I work from home and spend this work time sitting. During my lunch break, I have lunch and then do my second yoga session of the day – doing 10 or so poses to counteract all the sitting and computer work. It’s not recommended to do yoga on a full stomach, so I make my lunch small. I figure it’s better to fit in yoga, even right after eating, instead of foregoing yoga when I most need it.
- My third yoga session is in the evening. I do a few relaxing poses to stretch out my back before bedtime, around 15 different poses, repeating the ones that seem the most needed.
All total, it probably adds up to an hour or so of yoga a day, depending on how carried away I get. Which is much, much better than no yoga at all.
Making it Easy
There are a few ways that I make hopping right into my yoga sessions easy.
Research on habits shows that your environment makes a huge difference on whether you keep up a habit or not, so I make doing yoga an easily accessible part of my environment.
- I keep my yoga mat, blocks, bolster, and strap right in the living room where I do my home practice.
- I wear loose, comfortable clothes during the day that I can practice yoga in.
- I keep a blanket with my yoga gear that I can unfold it onto the floor, and then roll my mat out on top of it. That way if the floor isn’t perfectly clean, it doesn’t matter, I just roll out my blanket first – my mat doesn’t have to go onto the floor.
My At Home Yoga Poses
Here’s an idea of some of the poses I like to put into my yoga sessions.
Morning standing poses:
- mountain pose
- mini sun salute
- tree pose
- half moon
- standing splits
- triangle pose
Lunchtime mat poses:
- full body stretch
- reclining spinal twist
- head to knee pose
- half split
- seated wide leg forward fold
- reclining half pigeon
- knee to chest pose
- bridge pose
- seated twist
Bedtime mat poses:
- child’s pose
- cat and cow
- downward dog
- bow pose
- half pigeon
- shoulder stretch
- seated twist
- supine leg stretch
- reclining spinal twist
- full body stretch
I tend to do the poses I enjoy and “forget” about the poses I don’t enjoy so much (camel, wide legged squat, chair pose).
I think making it enjoyable also helps cement my routine, so I’m not so worried about my preferential pose selection. I always feel better doing some yoga as opposed to no yoga, so not beating myself up is important too.
What About You?
I would really love to hear what your experience with a home yoga routine has been, particularly if you live in a rural location like I do, far from the welcoming space of a live yoga studio.
What other tricks do you have that help you keep yoga as a daily habit?
Or, if you haven’t been able to cultivate a home yoga routine, what is getting in the way?
Thanks for reading and – Namaste!