It’s now been almost a year since we all had to switch from practicing yoga at our favorite studio to practicing y
oga at home. For many of us that means having to navigate our way around many distractions like our pets, work, partners, children, chores, etc. So, how can we stay committed to our practice while being stuck at home for who knows how much longer? See below for 10 practical tips that will help you to get on your mat, day after day, at home.
1. Schedule when you plan to practice - write it in your calendar or program a reminder into your phone. First thing in the morning is the best time to hop on your mat. Before your family wakes up, before you put on real clothes, before you look at your phone, before you eat breakfast. Plan ahead for this special time by putting your mat out before you go to bed so that it's there as a reminder for you when you wake up. I have my alarm clock next to my practice space so my mat is the first thing I see when I get up in the morning. It helps!
2. Minimize distractions - put your phone in another room with an alarm set for when you have to be done. This way you won’t be tempted to look at your phone to check the time. (Take off your smartwatch too!) Put pets in another room, give your little ones a snack or have your partner care for them while you are on your mat. Everyone will learn to respect your self-care time. If being on your own isn’t an option, small children do well with routines, your pattern might be to feed them breakfast, read them a book and then give them a quiet activity to do next to you while you practice.
3. Have a dedicated practice space - this doesn’t have to be an entire room, just enough space for your mat and any props you like to use. Ideally this will be a spot that you can easily keep clutter free. Studies show that clutter causes stress and it’s nice to have a stress-free zone for yoga practice. A room with a door might be best since this will also help with tip #2. You may also want to put up some inspirational pictures, a vision board or plants (for extra oxygen) in your practice space. Make it as pleasant as possible so you really want to be there.
4. Get into the habit of getting on your mat for at least 5 minutes every morning (or any time that works best for you). Make it a part of your daily ritual i.e. after you brush your teeth, before you go to bed, after you shower, etc. Even if you just sit there and breathe or meditate, getting onto your mat regularly will help to make it a habit. Before too long you will begin to crave this time to tune into your body and breath.
5. Keep it simple - if you are short on time or just beginning the habit of regular practice stick to just 4 or 5 poses that you know and love. A few rounds of Cat and Cow followed by 5 breaths in Down Dog and 5 breaths in Child’s Pose will be a great way to get started. Even a short sequence like this will leave you feeling calm and balanced.
6. Get inspired. If you have a hard time figuring out what to do once you are on your mat get some guidance from a teacher online. Yoga Mama Online has classes specifically for pregnancy and postpartum (regular yoga classes are coming to the membership soon!) but you can also find millions of yoga classes on youtube and apps to help get you started. Most yoga studios have taken their classes online during the pandemic and many teachers have their own YouTube Channel.
7. Buddy system - collaborate with a friend that has also set the intention to practice regularly. Check in daily or weekly to hold each other accountable for practicing regularly. If you benefit from having a group class to keep you committed, check out Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga classes at Urban Breath. These classes meet via Zoom and run in 6 week sessions that allow you to connect with others that are pregnant or postpartum before the class begins.
8. Reward yourself - although the benefits of yoga are rewarding in and of themselves, giving yourself a gold star or some other small reward may help you to stay committed. Make yourself a deal where if you practice for 5 days in a row you get to have an ice cream or some other little treat.
9. Visualize success - take a moment right now to visualize yourself as a person that practices yoga regularly. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths to clear your mind. Imagine that each day you give yourself the gift of your own time and attention. Notice what time of day it is in this vision. Where in your home are you? How does it feel to be on your mat? What can you see around you? What can you smell and taste? And now imagine that it's the end of the day. Reflect on how your day was positively impacted by your practice. How did you speak to others and yourself? What was your energy like? How was your patience? What about your compassion?
I hope these tips inspire you to get on your mat and reconnect with your breath and body. Please let me know if you have any tips that have helped you to stay committed to your practice. I would love to hear from you!