How to Practice Yoga at Home and Make it a Habit
Fitness,  Yoga

How to Practice Yoga at Home and Make it a Habit

When most of us think of yoga our immediate thought isn’t: “I’m going to learn how to practice yoga at home…”

Most of us probably imagine of a bohemian studio with wood floors, incense pouring out of the room, traditional music blaring, a woo-woo teacher who is totally yoga-drunk, and a bunch of “fit” bodies in spandex moving in perfect synchronization to their breath as the teacher whispers something like

“use your ujjayi breath…and find your drishti while focusing your third eye wrinkled eyebrow inward…and imagine a beam of light rainbow shooting out from your crown chakra anus and uniting us all.”

(FYI you will never hear this in a yoga class, but these are the types of translations I hear in my head that make me randomly laugh in class… You were thinking it too.)

How to Practice Yoga at Home and Make it a Habit

Now take that image and toss it in the trash recycling bin. While this stereotypical yoga experience can be nice, the idea you have in your head about what yoga is and what it looks like is probably totally wrong.

Yoga is what you make it.
Yoga is what you want it to be.
This practice is for you.
Ok, now I sound like I’m yoga-drunk, but it’s TRUE.

Hear me out!

Yoga doesn’t have to be an hour long asana practice. Actually, yoga doesn’t even have to involve a series of poses. Yoga could just look like you sitting on your mat, decompressing, for the only five minutes you get to have for yourself all day.

There is no “yoga body.”
And there is no required uniform to wear for practice.
Yoga doesn’t have to only take place in a studio, as a formal class, or with a group of people.

These things are especially true for a home yoga practice.

Now that we’ve totally revolutionized your perception of yoga, here is

How to start your own (personalized) home yoga practice.

It is what it is

How to Practice Yoga at Home and Make it a Habit

Release expectation. Practice detachment.

Chances are, if you’re doing yoga at home you don’t have the perfect designated yoga studio room, or the best yoga mat & props, or a live teacher. You will probably have more distractions, and you may not feel as motivated.

That’s ok. None of that really matters.

All that matters is that you show up for your practice where you are, as you are, with what you have.

Schedule the time

How to Practice Yoga at Home and Make it a Habit

The biggest question I get about yoga is “how do you stay consistent?”

Well, the truth is, you don’t. At least, most people aren’t 100% consistent with their personal yoga practice.

For me, yoga is self care. As long as I remember this is a practice I do because it fills me up, I have an easier time finding my motive-ation to get on the mat consistently.

At the beginning it can be easy to want to go all in all at once. Don’t do this.

Instead, keep these things in mind:
  • Evaluate your circumstances: Determine how a home practice will fit into your life and what it might look like.
    • Are happy with online classes or would you want to invest in a subscription?
    • Do you travel a lot? Consider if and how you want incorporate yoga during travel.
    • How many days/week can you fit in a practice?
    • What other commitments do you have?
  • Time: Don’t set yourself up for failure by wanting to overcommit and then falling short, and falling off the bandwagon. Any length of time that fits your schedule is perfect for you.
    • How much time can you realistically carve out for yoga?
    • Is it different each day?
    • Can you commit to only 10 minutes, or can you do 2 hrs?
  • Commitments: Life happens (I’m able to stick to my ideal schedule about 80% of the time).
    • It’s great if you want to carve out an hour every day at 6pm. But make sure to remain flexible.
    • If you skip a day, it’s ok. You will probably end up balancing out your missed session eventually without even realizing it. And if not, that’s totally fine.
  • Schedule: Try to choose a time of day that you can stick to (Ideally I would do 1hr of yoga every day, but I aim to do a minimum of 20 minutes of yoga 3-5x/week before 11am. This schedule is forgiving as it allows for flexibility and doesn’t feel overwhelming or burdensome).
    • If you’re not a morning person, don’t schedule your yoga before work.
    • If you only have your lunch break, maybe do a mini flow for 5-10 minutes.

Once you’ve decided on a schedule, WRITE IT DOWN! Put it in your planner. Add it to your calendar. If you don’t use any of these, write it on a sticky note and put it somewhere you will see it every day.

I’m a firm believer in the power of writing things down as it adds an extra layer of accountability.

Set the mood

How to Practice Yoga at Home and Make it a Habit

Find a space to practice in that you feel comfortable in and that you like. Remember that this practice is a self care ritual. Make it yummy, make it special, make it something you look forward.

Here are some things you can do:

  • Find your space: Pick a space where you feel motivated and uninhibited.
    • I’m motivated in bright open spaces with a slightly warmer temperature.
    • When I’m not traveling and at home this means I roll out my mat in my living room, bust open both french doors to let in as much light and fresh air as possible (weather permitting), and practice facing the outdoors.
    • A mirror is a plus as I can check my alignment and form, but not necessary.
  • Make it delectable: You don’t have to do this every time, but it is a nice extra treat to do for yourself.
    • Sometimes I burn incense, or have a diffuser going.
    • Sometimes I apply essential oils on my wrists and temples for aromatherapy before, during and after practice.
  • Get comfy: Wear something that you feel comfortable in and which doesn’t inhibit your movement.
    • I love the Lululemon Align leggings, the Enlight Bra Zip Front, and any loose flowy crop top from forever 21.
      • However, I often practice in a bikini, or sometimes opt for no clothing at all (a beautifully vulnerable way to practice and create body awareness which I highly recommend you all try while practicing at home).
  • Choose a good playlist: When you’re free flowing you can flow to whatever suits your fancy.
    • You can check out my playlists on spotify as I’m constantly updating and creating new ones
      • Sometimes I’m in the mood for the really traditional music, sometimes I’m rocking out to 90’s, and sometimes I’m getting down to hip hop.

You Don’t Need a Yoga Mat

How to Practice Yoga at Home and Make it a Habit

I’ve said this a million times, and I’ll keep saying it: YOU DO NOT NEED A YOGA MAT TO PRACTICE YOGA.

In fact, the popular sticky mats we see in yoga studios everywhere today didn’t become popular until the 1990’s.

There are benefits to practicing on a mat, but not having one should not stop you from having a home yoga practice. And, often having a low quality mat can be worse than not having a mat at all.

When not using a mat be mindful of your knees, elbows, tailbone, and slipping of the palms and soles.

I sometimes practice without rolling out a mat so that I can feel more grounded. Practicing on grass, wood flooring, and carpeting are nice non-mat options.

I’m certain you will eventually want the option of using a mat. Here are a few of my favorites:

Follow a video or online class

How to Practice Yoga at Home and Make it a Habit

As a yoga teacher people are often surprised when I tell them that I love a good youtube yoga class.

Online yoga is a great option for home practice as it gives you complete control over how you practice, when you practice, and where you practice. You can speed it up, slow it down, rewind (does anyone say this anymore?!?), pause, stop, etc.

I do enjoy free flowing and just doing what my body feels called to do. But, sometimes I like to shut my brain off and have someone guide me through a flow.

Limit interruptions and distractions

Limit distractions

You are doing yoga for you. Many of us may only have this time for ourselves, so make it count as real you-time. Setting boundaries at home with partners, children, parents, even your pets, is important.

Here are some things I do to limit interruptions:
  • I make sure to get on my mat before starting work and answering to other people (ahem, emails and social media).
    • If I start doing other things before flowing I’m more likely to skip practice or not be present during my practice because my mind is elsewhere.
  • Turn my phone on “Do Not Disturb” mode.
    • This way my phone isn’t ringing, buzzing, and dinging throughout my practice but I can still use it to stream my music or youtube class.
  • Let those around me know that “I will be practicing yoga at X am/pm for X minutes. I will be unavailable during this time.”
    • In order to have this time for yourself you cannot be semi-available to everyone’s beckoning call, unless it is an absolute emergency. You’ll be happy that you were firm in setting this boundary.

Listen to your body

How to Practice Yoga at Home and Make it a Habit

Yoga was THE practice that increased my mind-body connection.

Through this practice my proprioception increased exponentially (It was a real ah-ha moment when I finally learned what muscles I had to engage to “tuck the ribs”).

Throughout your practice make sure to be aware of your body. Notice the space that you are taking up, notice how each pose feels, notice where you’re tight, engaging, or shakey.

And if you feel ANY pain: STOP!

In a home yoga practice, you don’t have a yoga teacher to correct your form. So, make sure you’re in tune to how your body feels and modify the pose or do a different pose. It is 100% acceptable and encouraged to modify yoga poses to fit your body and abilities at in-person classes and at home.

Make it fun

Partner Yoga

In order for your home practice to remain consistent it’s going to have to be something you look forward to.

Sure, it’s totally okay to be serious with it, but that’s not going to work 100% of the time.

So, get funky with it!

Some things you can do to mix it up are:
  • Try a different style of yoga than your norm
  • Use a different playlist
  • Carve out some time to work on a fun and challenging pose
  • Practice with a partner
  • Incorporate some non-yoga aspects like weights
  • Use props like blocks, bolsters, straps, blankets, etc
  • Shut the lights off and focus on how the movement feels to your body
  • Practice in the nude

Just Do It

Morning yoga stretch

When all else fails, sometimes you’re just going to have to be strict with yourself and do it.

Doing a 5 minute practice is better than not doing anything at all.

You may not be motivated to start, but once you finish you will be so glad you did it.

Share this with someone who wants to start doing yoga at home and making it a habit!

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Nathalia is a classical musician, signed model, and bodybuilder-turned-international-yoga-teacher who has dedicated herself to mind-body wellness while maintaining a digital nomad lifestyle. Inquisitive by nature and obsessed with learning, she holds two undergraduate degrees and a masterโ€™s degree. In 2007 she launched nathaliafit.com, a fitness & wellness lifestyle blog, as a voice to millennial women on topics relating to wellness, fitness, clean beauty, sustainable fashion, and healthy travel.

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