Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Douglas (Vishal) Brook tells how to set up your home practice: "All you need is a small amount of space and some floor."
Establishing a home practice is a great way to maintain your practice if you can’t get to the studio everyday. If your time is limited you can still practice wherever is convenient. I often practice at home before work so I don’t miss out. When travelling or on holiday you can continue your practice as well. My favourite thing on holiday is to find a place to practice in different hotels or places I am staying.
Some find it hard to establish a home practice but there are a few things you can do to help:
Set it up the day before.
Perhaps tell someone you live with that you are doing Yoga in the morning. Then you will have to go through with it or face the shame of being caught slacking off! Work out what your morning timetable is – maybe you need to leave for work at a particular time - so work back and see how much time you need for getting ready for work, having breakfast etc. Then allow time for your practice.
If doing Primary, allow a minimum 90 minutes – I find 1 hour 45 is better. Then set your alarm accordingly. Tell people you need to be in bed in time to get enough sleep before practice. That way, you have a start time and finish time for your practice already worked out the day before.
Before you start it helps to set the scene – move furniture if needed, vacuum/sweep floor as you will notice the floor when you practice.
I light candles or if you have an altar, light the lamp and incense to create the right vibe. Have a clock so you know that from this time to that time you are practicing – make a pact with yourself not to do anything else. Ask friends or family not to disturb you while you practice. Switch off phones etc so you are isolated as you would be in a studio.
Don’t think it has to be all or nothing.
Some days you may be sick or tired. If you do at least 15 minutes you will know if you should keep going. Often once you get going you will want to continue. But if you still feel too unwell or tired to continue then you know you tested the waters and it may be more beneficial to rest that day. At least you came to your mat. You may instead meditate or do a restorative pose like a shoulder stand.
If time is tight you can set an alarm at the end to give you the minimum 10 minutes needed for Savasana (lying on your mat).
It is also helpful to set a minimum number of practices per week and stick to it; even if you only do 15 minutes some days. A few sun salutes, a back bend, forward bend and a shoulder stand will help to maintain your yogic balance even if you can’t do a full practice.
Some people think if they can’t find a full two hours to do a full Ashtanga practice it is not worth doing any at all. But it is better to do a little bit often rather than a full 2 hour practice only once a week. Even 15 minutes can help to maintain your practice. You can try to build on the minimum so some weeks you may do more.
While it is great to have a home practice, one pitfall is only practicing at home and never going to class.
It is easy to get into bad habits and lose inspiration so at least aim to get to one class a week to make sure you stay connected with others and can work with a teacher.
Finally, take care
Do take care when doing hand stands and drop backs at home. It is easy to hit furniture etc so make sure there is enough space for such poses and that you won’t be breaking any lamps or vases etc! I have to admit to knocking a plank of wood off a shelf and breaking a finger doing a handstand once!
Be mindful that doors may be dangerous if someone opens one suddenly and watch out for slippery door matts/carpets that you might slip on in arm balances or back bend drop backs.
One of my favourite things is practicing in different places. I have practiced on the roof tops at Ashrams in India; by the pool at Singapore Airport waiting to go to India; in different hotel rooms, and at different studios where I am teaching before class. I personally prefer to practice indoors away from sand, insects and the blazing sun. I must say the beach looks nice but is too unstable for yoga for me and sand in my eyes with the first sunsalute rules it out!