It seems that most of us worldwide are on some sort of “stay home” order due to the COVID-19 virus. Now is an excellent time to begin (or continue) an at home yoga practice. A home practice is a great way to go deeper into your yoga practice as well as build your understanding and knowledge of yoga. Home practice can be defined as your own yoga practice outside the class setting, without a teacher guiding you. You essentially become your own teacher when you learn yoga at home.
Developing your own yoga practice at home can be challenging and even scary! It forces you to be comfortable in your own skin. Many people find it difficult not having someone guide you through it. This is the beauty of it, to create and develop it yourself and make it your own. We tell ourselves that we don’t have the time or don’t know what to do for our home yoga practice.
Here are my personal tips for practicing yoga at home:
1. Listen to Your Body
During the course of my yoga practice at home, I have learned how to listen to my body. In order to maintain a consistent practice, I needed to start practicing at home. But, my first few times were not easy. I would push myself into poses that either I was not ready for or that I “thought” I could do because I saw someone else do it. I never took time to really listen to my body and what it was saying. I know better these days and I’ve learned to be in-tune with what it’s telling me.
2. Clear the Clutter
This may seem like a challenge at first, clearing out a spot in your home for your yoga practice. I remember laying down my mat in my apartment, where my only space to practice was the perimeter of my yoga mat. After the first Sun Salutation, I was looking around my room, searching for things to pick up because I hadn’t cleared out a space just for my yoga practice. I knew I needed an area that needed to be free from clutter to avoid any kind of distractions. The area you choose doesn’t have to be large, just a spot for you and your yoga that’s clear of clutter and junk.
3. Withdraw the Senses
At a yoga studio, you are asked to put away your belongings so you’re not distracted by your personal possessions so you can give yourself your undivided attention. This is not easy at home when you have things to do or people there to distract you. In Yoga, we practice Pratyahara, or withdrawal of the senses. It took me a while to feel unaffected by my home environment and to remain focused in my practice.
4. Embrace the Challenge
Ask yourself, “When am I feeling compelled to step off my mat?” “When do I give up?” The answer is simple…when the practice becomes challenging. As soon as I began practicing Ashtanga yoga, I began to feel the challenge that I was searching for. Not just the asanas, but the deeper connection I felt towards my inner self. I realized over time, that I was limiting my potential to grow. By giving up on other asanas earlier and losing will power, I realized that this might probably be the way I approach different challenges off the mat as well.
5. Be Consistent
There are mornings that I just don’t feel like getting up at 5:30; I just want to hit the snooze button on my alarm and sleep! I practice every day because I know yoga requires the consistency to keep at it, to keep it a habit. I know that yoga makes me feel better, that I literally need it in my life, that it resets my days and all those reasons are enough to keep up with my practice. However, sometimes I think it would be a struggle to get going if it wasn’t a habit, my yoga would probably be much more sporadic. Consistency is key, even if you only practice 10 minutes a day!
The Rewards of Home Practice
While it may take time to develop the discipline for a continuous session of yoga at home, it can be very rich and rewarding. You can try new things and have the freedom to explore your own creative movement. If you’re just getting started or experiencing some of these similar challenges, keep going, stay committed. Make yourself and your practice a priority. You will not regret it! Just know that a practice is anything you need that day. A quick break, a deep breath, and a little bit of patience is all you need to get yourself going. Enjoy!
Seva comes from the Sanskrit word that means selfless service and is considered the most important part of spiritual practice. It lies at the heart of the path of karma yoga (selfless action), which asks us to serve others with no expectation of outcome. Seva is a principle that means to give back. Currently with all that is going on around the world globally, now is a wonderful time to practice this principle. As a yogi, it is important to understand what Seva means and its impact on the world. When we practice yoga and the principle of Seva, it brings us opportunities, the ability to reach and inspire others, as well as a positive change to the world around us.
"We express gratitude through seva, selfless service. We say, 'thank you', and live by that thank you." - Radhanath Swami
When we give back, not only does it help others, but we also receive gifts from the experience of giving. When we give to others without the expectation of receiving something in return, we flourish as individuals making a positive change to the world. Giving allows us to connect more deeply not only to ourselves, but to others and our community at whole. Seva helps us to lead more joyful, happier, and purposeful lives.
Here are 5 easy ways to practice Seva everyday:
Pay it forward: While waiting for your morning cup of coffee at your local café’ offer to pay for the drink of the person behind you. Although this may seem small, every extra action helps.
See some trash on your walk or morning run? Pick it up and place it in the trash or recycle bin. We can give service to our planet as well as to others.
Find a volunteer opportunity in your community; a local school, an animal shelter, a homeless shelter or children’s hospital, etc. Time is a valuable commodity and spending some of yours can make an impact!
Donate food or clothing
Do you have extra groceries? Clothing perhaps that you know you are not using or wearing? How about donating them to someone or someplace where they can be of use to someone else?! There are countless opportunities to be of service. You don’t have to wait for the holiday season to be charitable.
Offer a kind word or a smile to someone
You never know what sort of day someone is having or has had. Your smile or just a kind word can make a huge difference in someone else’s demeanor to turn their day around (and yours too)! Whether it's your friend, a stranger, or your mail carrier, just one word can open a new world with endless possibilities.
“It's not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” - Mother Theresa
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