Home Yoga Practice - How-To

A lot of people want to start a home yoga practice and for good reason! You are your body's own best friend, expert, and teacher. A home yoga practice is a powerful way to nourish the all-important relationship with yourself. Not to mention, a home yoga practice is convenient and free!

I've made maybe a billion yoga sequences to lead people (OK, that's an exaggeration, but it feels like that) in my years teaching. Someone from one of my yoga sessions emailed me one day asking for help with creating a home routine. It was easy for me to give him some foundations because, like I said, I've done this a  billion times before so it's simple to me. I have a formula and ready-made templates for this stuff. That's the key: creating a home practice can be accomplished with a simple formula or outline. If you've been attending led yoga practices for awhile, say a year or so, I'd feel comfortable sharing my home practice formula with you. Promise to practice with compassion and sensitivity and it's all yours.

1. Centering: this can be a simple as standing or sitting tall and taking three deep breaths. Or perhaps you have a prayer or breath practice you want to start with. 

Tip: Think about why you are doing asana (postures) right now. Identify the reason and let that reason help guide your practice. Do you want energy? To calm down? To practice discipline? Remind yourself of the reason you're practicing as you go.

2. Warmup: what things do you like to do to get loose? Example: chill in child's pose, cat and cow, rolling bridge, seated belly churns/circles, gentle shoulder or arm movements, dance or shake your boty gently, march in place. There are no rules really.

Tip: Keep it GENTLE

3. Sun salutations: do whatever sun salute you know and like. 1 round? 2 rounds? 3? It's up to you!

4. Standing and balance poses: this will be the easiest because you know your favs. Example: triangle, warrior, extended side angle, tree and its variations.

Tip: Don't forget to do both sides. No need for a fancy transition in between the postures. Just step to the top of your mat and start over with the other side. My teacher used to say to hold each posture for 3 breaths; 5 for extra credit; and 10 if you really like extra credit.

5. Seated postures: now you can get back on the floor on your mat and again, you'll probably know your favs. Example: forward bends, butterfly, pigeon, seated twists. Pick what you like.

Tip: Get out a blanket and fold it so you can sit on the edge. If you're used to a bolster for some postures, a couch cushion or pillow works great. Need a strap? Try a belt or the tie from your bathrobe.

6. Supine postures: falling further onto the ground, it's time for the postures you do lying on your back. Example: twists, figure four, happy baby, bridge and a lying down hamstring stretch (whip out your strap for this one).

Tip: You're getting the body ready for savasana now, so slow it down. Breathe slowly, particularly on the exhale, and move slowly.

7. Savasana: probably the really easiest part! You know how to do this.

Tip: Set a timer. This way you can let yourself really go and you don't have to worry about how long you've been lying there.

If you do just one thing in each of the sections, you've got a good 15 or 20 minutes of practice. Good practice guidelines in the yoga studio all apply to your home practice: do each side or leg and ZERO pain, burning, struggling or forcing allowed - EVER. And always keep breathing. (Super secret tip: Even just laying on your back and breathing can be a home practice!)

A few final hints:

  • When you're first starting out your self-led home practice, do the postures you like best and are most familiar with. The ones that make you say 'aahh'. That way, you'll be more motivated to keep doing it
  • Silence your phone. It's practically a guarantee that you will get a phone call the minute you sit down on your yoga mat.
  • If you like music, play it! Don't worry about creating the perfect yoga playlist, just use your favorite album or set the songs on shuffle. Do use a relatively low volume so it won't distract and do let the music inspire your movement.

So that's it! Your home practice awaits. Go forth and meet your own inner teacher. And, if you want some guidance along the way, download some Audible Yoga classes. They really do take the guess work out of a home practice.

This blog post contributed by Jennifer McCarron - one of the teachers with Audible Yoga and you can find her classes here. She enocurages her students in their yogic study by incorporating mantra into each class as well as the yogic principle of SANTOSHA - to be as you are and gain supreme joy!

Jennifer McCarron Audible Yoga Teacher