Developing A Home Yoga Practice (Pt. 1)

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I got into yoga because there was a free class I could walk to.  Yoga wasn’t in my plans (or budget) but I thought that even better than taking a day off from running, I could get a different type of workout in. (This was during a stressful time in my life – I used workouts for self-care/sanity.)

I began to fall in love though.  I fell in love with the person I remembered that I really was, beyond the stress and frustration at work or in relationships.  I remembered how my soul ached to be bathed in (and bathe others in) compassion.  I loved the calling into love that I knew but didn’t always experience.  I loved that I could embody and practice my philosophy, my values, my faith.

So I became a yoga hopper.  I did classes at almost all of the studios in town.  When I traveled, I couldn’t wait to look up studios and visit.  To learn new moves, experience new styles, and glean wisdom from new teachers.  I was soaking it up.

Then, one winter, I got it into my head that I was interested in teacher training.  I loved how the teacher I went to the most (also a free class, mind you) moved in her body.  She had such freedom and power in her movements, her voice, and her presence.  I wanted more of that.  I also am the personality type that wants to know why and what and more and how (did I miss my calling as an engineer?)… so I needed to get deeper into these questions and find some answers.  I signed up and paid in full.

After a 12-day intensive with our teacher, we were told that we now had to go home and practice on our own and NOT go to other teachers’ classes.  WHAT?!?!  I mean I had done a little yoga on my own before that.  In hotel rooms, usually in dire circumstances without a class.  What would I do?  How would I know what pose to do when and how could I learn without a teacher?  She weaned us with a custom “routine” to do for three weeks.  After that, it was up to each of us.

I got sick of her routine.  I longed to do anything else.  And there I was, at the end of three weeks, with an empty mat.  It was up to me to make an hour a day happen (since I was in training I was doing at least this much a day – not true anymore).  I started by doing some Sun Salutations.  I knew those from my Ashtanga-inspired teachers.  And then I did some Warrior poses.  And then, all of a sudden, my body started ASKING me for poses.  My hip flexors almost begged for a lunge.  My hamstrings groaned with gratitude when I did forward bends.  The joy/agony/release of each pose was already known by my body.  I learned to listen.  To trust.  To know the voice of a deeper part of me than just my head.

And a home practice was born.  Not without struggle.  Oh man, I am good at coming up with urgent things that must be done on my computer, on my phone, around my house, “for someone else”… to avoid going to my mat.  I struggle to give myself time to be with me, to gain clarity and compassion.  And honestly, I still don’t understand why this is a human struggle, but it is.  It is good for me, it is good for others, and yet I avoid it.  Maybe I’ll have more for you in another decade of learning.  (See some posts on meditation to help clear the way.)

Do you have a home yoga practice?  What are your struggles?  What helps you carve out time for you and your body/soul?  

Check out Part 2 next week for some ideas on creating your own home practice!