We hear a lot in yoga that we should have a daily home practice - so what, exactly, does this mean? A daily practice is a self-driven practice, as opposed to attending a class. The very idea of it can be off-putting for many, as it conjures up images of spending an hour or so on the mat, and it’s easy to think “I don’t have time for that!”. You might also be deterred by believing that you lack the right equipment, or simply that you don’t have enough experience to practice without some guidance.
Here’s some good news for you – a daily practice can be as little as a few minutes, or as long as you want it to be. The benefits come from the commitment of practicing daily, and of taking that time to focus inward, to set an intention, to connect with your breath, and at the most elemental level, your Self. Your daily practice doesn’t have to include a lot of asana (yoga poses) – a few minutes seated in easy crossed legs pose, focussing on your breath, followed by some standing poses or a few floor stretches, and finishing up with 5 minutes of savasana, is all it takes to establish your own daily home practice. Try these tips to help you get started with an asana practice, a meditation or pranayama (breathing) practice, or any combination of those that feels right for you.
1. Try to practice at the same time each day. Getting up a bit earlier each morning might be the ideal time for you (this works perfectly for me and makes me feel centred, calm and prepared for whatever the day throws at me), or perhaps taking some time just before bed each night sounds more appealing (I have a friend who finds this is the perfect time for her, helping her to unwind and get a great night's sleep) – find what’s going to work best for YOU and see if you can build it into a regular part of your daily routine.
2. Set up a space. You don’t need a whole room, but a space free of clutter, with one or two objects that help you to focus (e.g candles, a vase of wildfowers, a small statue) and to “drop in” to a yoga state of mind, is incredibly helpful. You can leave your mat
out on the floor if it’s not going to be in the way, or rolled up and tucked into a nearby
corner ready to grab each time you need it.
3. Set an intention to get on your mat every day. Sit with your eyes closed and allow yourself to visualise, and even to feel the benefits that will come from taking this daily time just for you. Try using this affirmation each morning as soon as you awaken – “I love and appreciate myself, and will act in ways that support my health and wellbeing”.
4. Cut yourself some slack! If you miss a day, the world doesn’t end. Rather than beating up on yourself, or worse, using one missed day as an excuse to throw up your hands and decide that it’s all too difficult, simply accept that it’s happened and move on. Tomorrow is another day, and another opportunity to give yourself the gift of yoga.