Home Practice

Developing a home practice

There are so many days when I just cannot make it to a public class.  When I first starting practicing Yoga, I loved the experience of attending a group class. I loved walking into a studio, unrolling my mat, and feeling fully committed to my practice.  It was a safe space to unwind from my day and feel the energy of a group dynamic.

Here is what to do.

1. Listen to your body

Over the years, my time has become more limited and I have learned how to listen to my body.  Thus, in order to maintain a consistent practice, I needed to start practicing at home.  But my first few sessions were not easy.

2. Clear the clutter

My biggest challenge, at first, was tuning out my home environment.  I remember laying down my mat in my tiny apartment in Santa Monica where my only space to practice was the perimeter of my mat.  After the first sun salute, I was already looking around my room searching for things to pick up or answering an incoming text.

 3. Withdraw the senses

At a studio, you are asked to put away your belongings so you’re not distracted by your personal possessions and you can give yourself your undivided attention.  Not so easy at home when you have things to do or people there to distract you.  In Yoga, we practice Pratyahara, or withdrawal of the senses.  It took a while to feel unaffected by my home environment and to remain focused in my practice.

 4. Embrace the challenge

Another breakthrough happened for me when I asked myself, “When am I feeling compelled to step off my mat?” “When do I give up?”  The answer was simple…when the practice became challenging.  As soon as I found myself in a challenging asana or removed from the flow then I would step away from my mat.  I realized over time, that I was limiting my potential to grow.  I was not allowing the poses to work through some tough stuff and exiting early was a metaphor to how I react to other challenging situations in my personal life.

 5. Stick with it

We as teachers are constantly asking our students to be aware of what the poses bring up for you.  Sometimes you don’t even realize your habits until you’re placed into a challenging situation where you are given the opportunity to choose change and grow. This breakthrough could not have happened for me in a studio, instead I needed to experience my tendency only when I had the choice to stick with it or walk away.  Knowing that balance is a huge lesson to be learned in life, on and off the mat.

 The Rewards of a home practice

While it may take time to develop the discipline for a home practice, it can be very rich and rewarding.  You can try new things and have the freedom to explore your own creative movement. If you’re just getting started or experiencing some of these similar challenges, then I encourage you to stay committed.   I am by far way more satisfied and joyous after a home practice (even if it’s just 10 minutes!).   A quick break, a deep breath, and a little bit of patience is all you need to get yourself going.  Enjoy!

Ali Owens


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