One of my biggest strengths as a yogini has been maintaining a home practice. It definitely requires a whole lot of discipline, which believe me, it didn’t happen overnight. It took a lot of determination, discipline and dedication to my yoga practice as well as living in an expensive yoga town where the price of yoga was an excessive difference from where I had previously lived.
When I started practicing yoga in 1997, the cost of 1 yoga class was only $8.00, which was a great deal for a college kid! Then, after graduating from University of Arizona, I packed up and left Tucson to move to Boulder, CO. I was determined to live in Yogaland, USA where I would be surrounded by some of the best yoga instructors across the map. The first place that I stopped upon my arrival, was the local yoga studio ‘Yoga Workshop’ owned by Richard Freeman, the Ashtanga guru known to me. I was in shock that I had to pay $12.00 per class only because I was so comfortable paying $8.00. I also knew that I was paying for quality instruction. That was in 2000. 14 years later, 1 yoga class is close to $20.00.
Back then, I was so stuck on what my teacher in Arizona had taught me, that I had a hard time breaking away from his approach. His words will always be ingrained in my brain. He always used to say ‘When you start a home practice, you will discover that YOU are your best teacher.’
Slowly, in time, while living in Boulder, I developed the discipline to create a home practice. It became easy when the view from my master bedroom was the view of the snow capped Rocky Mountains. How could I not stand there in front of my window and salute to the sun with those beautiful mountains looking right at me. I still attended classes at the local studios, but always found that my home practice was my preference for practice. I enjoy a quiet, challenging, but slower paced Vinyasa class, so being at home amongst my own breath is way more healing than a fast, loud class with people’s hands bumping my shoulders in sun salutations.
I’m still going strong, if not stronger at maintaining my home practice. It’s still my preferred choice of practice, but when I do get to a studio class, I appreciate the teachers words of wisdom and I always leave happy that I went. It’s important to continue to learn from other teachers and to hear different ways and cues of going in and out of a posture.
However, everyone’s different and require different things, so sometimes the best answer is to follow your own routine on your own time (without the loud music and the crowded room).
If you are trying to develop a home practice, here are some simple tips for you to get you started and here is a sequence you can try in honor of love and joy: https://marybreath.com/2014/02/10/valentines-day-yoga-sequence/
1. Start with what you know:
The best way to start a home practice is to practice what you remember from classes. For example, if you attend a class that usually follows the same sequence or structure, try remembering what it is and practice it. You can also purchase a subscription to Yoga Journal, which has a whole section every month of sequences for a home practice. Even if it’s just a few simple poses, remember, a few poses a day is better than one class per month.
2. Keep your mat either rolled out or rolled up in the same visible place:
Keeping your mat visible will remind you of where you have the space to practice. It helps to keep it in the same place because you’ll always see where you can bust out a few poses. I mean, storing your mat in a closet would make you forget about it, right?
3. Create time for your home practice as you would your studio practice:
Discipline, determination and dedication are all part of maintaining a yoga practice, which the same applies to a home practice. If you can cut out a window of time to practice at home, then you may discover that you have the discipline to maintain your practice. Just like the first step, where you take a few poses and go, you can take 15 minutes and see that the time expands and you’ve made it to an hour.
4. Be Gentle with yourself:
Be gentle with yourself. Don’t criticize yourself over any imperfections. You are on the mat and that’s the most important step. Showing up is the biggest part of the practice, no matter where you’ve rolled out your mat…
Savasana is hands down a kids favorite yoga pose. I’ve worked in this field long enough to observe the reaction of savasana with kids.
They usually enter the room with high energy and getting them to calm down is often very challenging. It’s my responsibility as a teacher to make sure they get exposed to other relaxation techniques as well as savasana. One technique that works really well is ringing a chime, which then they know (from being told previously) that it’s time for child’s pose. It depends on the energy of the room when deciding how long to keep them there. Maybe just a few breaths or maybe a whole minute.
My classes are mostly very active, which by the time savasana comes, they get excited because they get blankets, pillow pets, lavender cloths and foot massages. Some kids become restless after a couple of minutes, while others don’t want to get up.
Most the time I am walking around pampering them with foot rubs while other times they want to partner up and share massages with each other. Watching them connect is the best part.
I’ve noticed in my kids yoga classes at Charlotte Family Yoga, that my little yogi’s and yogini’s practice seva or selfless service. They don’t even realize that this is what they are practicing. It’s also known as karma yoga.
Each class 2 or more children will ask if they can help set up savasana, the final relaxation in yoga class. Sometimes they ask when they arrive on their yoga mats while other times they burst out asking in the middle of class. I’m so thankful that they are so eager to help.
I was recently reflecting on my own seva journeys and the karma yoga projects that I’ve participated in. One of my most memorable experiences was when I volunteered and lived at Kripalu Yoga Center in Lenox, MA.
I spent 3 months volunteering in the household department. I cleaned showers, saunas, floors and toilets. It was a very rewarding experience to serve a community that spreads a message that is so near and dear to my heart.
The children offering to help with the set up and clean up of savasana reminds me of those same good intentions that I had through the practice of karma yoga. Their desire to serve feels so strong. I believe that the newer generations know that they are here to be of service to humanity. I am so honored and proud to be their teacher and to witness the unfolding of love through service.