2.18.2010

Home Practice Motivation Tips

Yoga at home can be hard.  At the studio, there are the judging glances of other yogis and yoginis (probably not, but it can seem that way) or the raised eyebrow of the instructor to keep you on task, but at home it's a little easier to just skip it.

Maintaining a consistent yoga practice at home is tough; it requires significant dedication and motivation. Often, I find the dedication is there. I want to do yoga, but the motivation is lacking. I start to rationalize: "I don't really need to do yoga today. I do yoga all the time. I can take my rest day early this week. I'll find time on Sunday," and so on and so forth. But I have developed a few strategies that help me transition nicely into my practice on days when that nagging reluctance tries to keep me away.
  1. Simply put on your yoga clothes. No pressure. They're comfortable, right? Just slide into your yoga duds and see what happens.
  2. Start slow. Allow yourself to begin with an open-ended meditation. Sit on a cushion, or get comfortable in child's pose or a supported reclining bound angle. Just breath. If you choose, this can be your practice, but in my experience, I'm ready start moving after a brief meditation. If you feel so inclined, move on to some sun salutations, giving yourself permission to end the practice once you've completed however many are comfortable for you. Carry on with this "just one more" attitude. It's gotten me through many a reluctant practice.
  3. Be accountable. Engage your spouse or a good friend, and ask them to check in with you about your practice. If this is not a viable option for you, start keeping a practice journal, or better yet, a practice blog. I have tried keeping practice journals in the past, but have not been diligent enough to document any progress. My experience blogging about my practice, however, has been very motivating. The idea that someone out there might be reading about my practice, and maybe even relating to my experience and rooting for me in my efforts, is hugely inspiring.
  4. Insulate your yoga space. Play unobtrusive music while you practice to drown out distracting noise. If you are averse to music during your yoga, I've found that the airy hum of the humidifier in my yoga space works beautifully for blocking out the boyfriend's music in the other room, all the while improving the air.
  5. Make space for your practice in your home. You don't need much. Be it a whole room or a quiet corner dedicated to your practice, designate a space that you can keep clean and free from interference. Set up an altar, with candles, or don't. All you need is a clean space with enough room to stretch out and unroll your mat, but try to keep it sacred, even if only in your mind.
  6. Make space for your practice in your life. Commit time to your practice. Make it a priority. It's much easier said than done, but most anyone can carve out at least 30 minutes a day, or a few times a week, if they have the desire. Be flexible. If you can't wake up at 5:00 AM, try practicing after work, or before you go to bed. Practice at different times on different days, if you must. Just do it often. The more you practice, the easier it will become.
I hope this helps anyone who might be eyeing their mat gathering dust in the corner.

16 comments:

  1. Great tips.

    One of my first teachers just used to say "get on your mat and see what happens".

    I used to leave my mat out in the corner rather than roll it away and I'd think I didn't have time, but I'd stand on my mat and then....what do you know, I had time!!!

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  2. I really like these tips. Sometimes it is so hard to be motivated when no one but you is counting on it. Thanks for the post!

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  3. GREAT tips for anyone trying to establish a home practice!

    I don't know about #1 though... I have found as the years go on that pretty much ALL my clothes are yoga clothes! You know you're a yoga teacher when you "dress up" in your favourite yoga pants for a night out. LOL. Then again I have been known to do spontaneous yoga poses throughout the day, and sip a drink in tree pose at a party without realising it. ;)

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  4. Spontaneous yoga! That's when you know you're hooked. I've been working on a post about it. I'm glad you brought it up. And I look forward to the day when all of my clothes are yoga clothes.

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  5. Spontaneous yoga is incredible. It took me a while to notice that I often stand in tree pose while chit chatting at work. I love that my body does yoga when my mind doesn't even realize it! : )

    And #1 is one of my favorite "tricks", too. It's so much easier to get on my mat when I don't have to go upstairs and change clothes first!

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  6. Just 20 min... is a mantra I've found that overcomes procrastination. And if I'm being really stubborn, I try the even more persuasive: just 5 min.

    BTW. Thanks for linking to me. I've added you to my blogroll :)

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  7. Spontaneous yoga is great! Please do a post on it... I can't wait to see the comments fly. :)

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  8. What works for me is telling myself: All you have to do is get on your mat. That's it. And once I'm on my mat, suddenly I want to do Yoga :-)

    Spontaneous Yoga is THE BEST! I can't stand on a beach or in the bush without wanting to do a few sun salutes.

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  9. Some great advice I've heard David Swenson say at a workshop is to just make it a goal to unroll your yoga mat, stand at the front of it, and take a few deep breaths. If that's all you do for the day, then great. But most of the time, when I do this, I end up moving through a full practice.

    I like the tip about putting on yoga clothes as a motivator. I do the same thing with my gym clothes. Once I lace up my tennis shoes I figure, "well, might as well workout now." :)

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  10. So glad I stumbled upon this post. I'm going to give up a few of my classes each month at the studio and practice at home to save some $. I was nervous that I wouldn't have the self-discipline to carry it out. These tips definitely get me at least into my black stretchy pants!

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  11. Maria - I'm glad the tips helped. Good luck with your home practice!

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  12. I have to say that I love your blog!! I was always a fan of home practice, but it's true, it's harder to practice continuously at home. I think most of the people really good at making excuses. I'm very determined to write a practice blog this year and document everything. I hope that in a year or two with continuous practice I can get to a yoga teacher training. It's my dream since I went to my first class 5 years ago. Thanks for the inspiration!
    BR,
    Nyx

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  13. Thank you - I appreciate and find helpful the "open" attitude. Sometimes I get bogged down by the "rules" - i.e. should meditate to asanas first thing in am, well if I miss that I'm screwed; so many hours before and after eating.... and I never know when that's going to be, "at the same time everyday", well, I missed yesterday's time, so... and some authors want you to balance your nadis before doing anything and this and that... and therefore since I can't do it "right", I don't do it...
    But isn't an "imperfect" practice better than no practice at all. Perhaps some of the original "rules" worked out well for the lifestyle of an ancient yogi, but I've finallly come to the conclusion that my practice might have to adapt a little to my lifestyle, and that's okay. In fact, its kind of yogic! Sometimes a posture needs to be modified for a person to be able to do it. But we would not say to a student, "forget it, if you can't do it "right", you can't do it at all"! In fact (I hope) we stress the opposite, that the idea is to work with your body, not force it to do things it can't. So why not lighten up and take the same attitude with practice as a whole? I really benefit from my evening meditation, and I like to think that for me, I am reaping as much benefit as someone else may at sunrise; by working with my body and its rhythms instead of trying to conform to a "schedule" that I consistantly fail at, and then am prone to just give up.

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  14. Ellen - Yes, yes, and YES! I agree with everything you've written. If we must wait for conditions to be ideal, then the practice will never happen. There will always be an infinite number of reasons not to practice, and some are especially tricky because they fall under the umbrella of "tradition."

    It would be naive of us to think that we should adhere to a lifestyle designed for another time, and certainly not in keeping with the principles of yoga to cultivate unnecessary resistance in our lives.

    Thanks for the great comment!

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  15. I think it's always 'getting to the mat' like anything else. For me, when I really don't want to practice, I commit to 5 Surya Namaskar A and B, and then if I truly have to end there, I do....or I just keep going and going...

    Thanks for the tips,

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