Whether you're traveling or looking for a yoga class on the road, having a solid personal practice outside of a studio sets you up for bliss.
So you've found a yoga studio or a teacher you like, and you've started a regular yoga practice. But say you don't have time to make it to a studio every day? Practicing at home is the best way you're going to make that long lasting connection and progression in your progress.
But how, you ask? How can I become a great yogi at home if I don't have a teacher next to me adjusting my postures or telling me what's next in the sequence? You can create an at home yoga practice even after just a few classes in a studio or online. It doesn't matter how long you practice, but it matters that you show up. Here are five things that wll help you improve your at home yoga practice.
Invest in good gear
When you look good, you feel good. and when your yoga gear is fresh, you'll feel more confident in your practice. Buy a thick and sturdy yoga mat (I love the ones from Gaiam, which truly will last you for years!), some well-fitting yoga pants and top, and even a cute water bottle if you like (my palm tree Swell bottle goes with me everywhere). Using beautiful yoga gear is an easy way to keep you motivated to come to the mat each day.
Study your gurus
Having a fundamental knowledge of yoga and its roots will help you craft a practice that's best for you. If you've found a few yoga teachers you like, read up on them. Go to their personal websites and read about their philosophies on yoga. If they've studied with certain yoga teachers, read up on their instructors. Check out some instructors on YouTube and watch how they construct their sequences, from warm up exercises to vinyasa flows and meditations. And check out books written on yoga from the founding fathers (and mothers!) of the practice. Understanding its roots will help you know how to properly get into postures on your own.
Remember, yoga is more than asanas
Traditional ashtanga yoga is an eight-limbed practice that involves physical, mental, and behavioral elements. Mediation and breathwork are an important part of yoga, both of which are fairly self-reliant rituals. Simply taking 5 to 20 minutes to sit on your mat quietly, allowing your focus to come to your breath and body, is doing the yoga. Or, try playing with different pranayama exercises, such as nadi shodhana breathing, or alternate nostril inhales and exhales through one nostril at a time.
Set a time and space for yoga
A dedicated time and space for your practice will ensure you do the practice more often. It will also give you more freedom in your practice--you can come to your place of zen whenever you need, and you can spend as much time as you like there, maybe a few minutes or an hour or more. Set out your yoga mat with a few candles or a nice journal and sit down on it whenever you need to clear your head. Try setting an alarm for 20 minutes earlier in the day and do a few sun salutations before you get ready. Or take 10 minutes before bed to do a quick meditation, or simply take your feet above your head in a restorative inversion.
Write down your flows
This is something I do even as a teacher. Each time I prepare a class I write down the poses and transitions I want to teach. It helps me to remember each pose and verbalize how to get into each pose so others can follow along. When you find a sequence or flow of poses you like, write them down in a journal or notebook. Then you can revisit that flow, or expand up one it, to make it your own personal practice.