Practise at home this summer
Summer is here and sometimes that means that class schedules look a bit more sparse at studios. In Spain most classes stop for two or even three months. Or perhaps you have some exciting trips planned for the summer and can’t commit to a regular class, but you feel so good after practising that you don’t want to stop altogether. Creating a home practice can be a really good option and it won’t cost you a thing!
The problem when we think about practising at home is that we can easily become overwhelmed and not know where to start. I’m going to share with you a few practical ideas that will set you up for enjoying yoga anytime you want, wherever you are.
Your home practice is not a class and you don’t have to spend a full hour on your mat. There are times when spending 5 minutes in child’s pose or sitting as you observe your breath are all you need or all you have time for, and that is ok.
As far as clothing goes, I think there is something magical about practising in your PJs! What I mean is that comfort is what is most important here… it doesn’t matter if your leggings are super trendy or if they have holes in them. Wear whatever makes you feel most comfortable and at ease.
Create your space
Try to find a spot at home where you won’t be disturbed (I know sometimes this is easier said than done!) and create your own bubble for this little bit of time that you are going to dedicate to yourself. I love lighting. scented candle or using an aromatherapy diffuser, set my phone on airplane mode and play some of my favourite music.
If you don’t know what music to play, I have several playlists on Spotify that you can listen to whenever you want to.
Using props at home
I said earlier than practising at home won’t cost you a thing, and you might be wondering if you need to buy some of the props you use in class, like blocks or a belt. The answer is no. When you’ve been practising for a while you might want to have your own blocks or other props, but there are lots of things you can find at home as props. Books make perfect blocks and you can use a scarf or a belt as a strap. You will also have lots of cushions lying around and a cosy blanket for your relaxation.
OK, everything I have said up to now is more or less common sense. Once you have created your space in a quiet spot at home, you have your music playing, your PJs on and you’re surrounded by books and cushions… now what?
For many years I chose to find YouTube videos, especially from Yoga with Adriene and Fightmaster Yoga. They have plenty of videos with practices of different lengths and they are brilliant to do at home.
If you prefer to create your own practice, you can use this structure for a longer practice or just use some parts:
Connect with yourself
The best way to start your practice is to take a few moments to see how you feel. Sit in a comfortable position or lie down, whatever you prefer. Close your eyes and notice how your awareness starts drawing inward. Let it rest on your breath. Notice the sensations in your body, the areas where you might have some tension, the areas where you might find some space and ease and a sense of wellbeing. Direct your attention to the centre of your chest and notice how you feel today, what emotions are with you in this moment. Don’t force anything or try to push away what doesn’t feel comfortable or pleasant. Just observe it and take note. Notice how the mind is as well. Is it calm or full of thoughts?
I personally love to create an intention for my practice, even if it is a short one. If you found some time to practise at home is probably because you need something from it: maybe a moment for you, some calm, the opportunity to release some tension or to find your strength as you move with energy on your mat. Take a moment to listen to what you need today.
2. warm your spine
After those moments of calm, you can start to bring some movement to your body, especially to your spine, with the simple sequence of cat-cow.
From tabletop, as you inhale tilt your pelvis forward, relax your belly, open your chest and look forward. As you exhale start tilting your pelvis backwards, pull your tummy in, push the mat with your hands as your back rounds and you look towards your belly button. Continue as many times as you want, adjusting the length of your movement to your breath.
Take your time here and close your eyes. Connect with the sound of your own breath and if you feel like it, you can start introducing bigger movements, like making circles with your torso, stretch one leg at a time… You’re at home and nobody can see you, so make the most of the opportunity to do whatever your body wants right now, waking up every corner of it.
3. sun salutations
Once you have warmed up your spine, you can follow up with some Sun Salutations. There are many versions of this sequence, including sitting and kneeling versions for when you want something a bit more gentle.
I love Sun Salutations because they are invigorating and they make me feel full of energy! In just a few minutes I can go from feeling really stiff to feeling warm, agile and more flexible. Sometimes they are all I have time for at home and if I want to move with a bit more energy this is what I will go for.
You have probably practised these a few times in class, but if you would like me to create a post explaining them step by step and give some alternatives let me know in the comments below.
4. standing poses
After the invigorating Sun Salutations you might feel ready for some standing poses. In class your yoga teacher will have prepared a few sequences with a few poses in a way that they flow naturally. But remember we’re at home and we’ve said there are no rules. They only rule is to do what you need. So, instead of trying to replicate what you would do in class, I invite you to practise those poses that you feel most familiar with and staying in them for 5 to 10 breaths.
You can also practise balance poses like Tree Pose or Warrior 3 or back bends like Bridge pose.
It is really important that you never force and that you take some rest whenever you need to.
Before you lie down in Savasana I like to create some transition between the more active part of the practice and the most passive. These moments of stretching and slowing down are really delicious!
One of my favourite poses is the one you can see in the image above, a gentle reclining twist where you extend your arms, let the knees fall to one side and direct your gaze in the opposite direction. I love placing a hand on my stomach and feeling it fill with the breath,
You can hold this pose on each side for as long as you like, don’t be in a rush.
6. …and relax!
And this is the moment I love the most, Savasana! Make yourself as comfortable as possible. If your lower back hurts you can bend your knees or place a blanket under them. I am all for lying on your side if that is what is most comfortable for you.
Close your eyes and connect with your body again, paying attention to the sensations it offers you after your practice. Notice how you feel now. Does it feel different to before you started? Remember it is ok if it doesn’t feel any different. No expectations, remember?
How long you lie here is entirely up to you. I like being there for 5 or 10 minutes.
Hope you found this useful. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment or send me a message.
Have a lovely summer full of yoga! If you are looking for a break in September, I will be hosting a yoga retreat near Alicante with my yoga BFF Leanne Dagger. You can check all the details on our website and follow us on Instagram.
Photos: Elle Narbrook
If you enjoyed it, you can share this post!