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Establishing a Home Practice

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Establishing a home practice is one of the most challenging aspects of practicing yoga regularly. While some people might enjoy keeping their practice in the studio under the watchful eye of a trained teacher, others may find that this is just not feasible for their current lifestyle, whether because of a strenuous work schedule, intense travel, or financial restraints.
I have had a home practice in my life ever since I began learning yoga. In fact, it’s how I got started with yoga, and I discovered a few things that might help you establish a home practice, too.


1. Separate skills from habit


Research shows that it takes 24 repetitions to make an activity or choice before it begins to not feel weird. That means that if you’re going to do yoga at home, you will have to do it 24 times before you can even think about not talking yourself out of it! That same research also shows us that you will have to roll out your mat at home for 200 times (that’s TWO HUNDRED!) before it feels automatic! So even if you don’t feel like doing yoga, get in the habit of rolling out the mat for at least 24 times before you even decide whether you can do this or not. Even if you set the timer for 10 minutes of child’s pose (it’s been THAT kind of a day!), go through the motions. You are training your brain to do something new (yoga in this place, at this time of day). The poses that you do or don’t do are not as important as the formation of a new habit.


2. Use props
 

Just as in the studio you are encouraged to use “props,” it’s OK to use them in establishing a home practice.....but I’m not talking about blocks or blankets or bolsters. The props in this portion of your practice are yoga videos. I began my yoga practice by meeting Jason Crandell on the mat every morning for his beginner morning yoga routine onYouTube. At that time in my life, I had NO money, 3 sons to feed, and 3 part-time jobs. If there was anyone on Earth that needed yoga, it was ME! I was determined to first establish a habit, then later I would find the money to get instruction. So every morning I had a yoga date with Jason. To this day, he is my favorite instructor in YogaGlo, and I can hear his voice in his blog posts and social media posts. Whether it’s a free YouTube video or a subscription service like Gaia or YogaGlo, set yourself up for success with the wonderful props when you feel your resolve failing.


3. Reward yourself
 

When you resolve to establish a new habit or routine, go ahead and set up a reward system, too. I promise, you’re going to need it before you’re 24 days in! For me (with part-time jobs and teenage sons to feed), shiny stickers on my calendar were my motivators. And then as I fell in love with my practice and began to love how my body felt after my dates with Jason, I began to reward myself with my own set of yoga blocks, or I signed myself up for a beginner series at the local studio. And the most important reward? On Day 25, put a big “X” on your calendar....a day of REST. Because rest is part of the yoga lifestyle, too.

susie fergus fort worth yoga


4. Redefine “home practice”
 

One of my early motivations for developing a home practice was the cost factor: after all, home yoga = free yoga. But there are other places where you can find free yoga, so take advantage of those! It’s not unusual to find a yoga teacher who offers their yoga classes in the park as a service to the neighborhood or community. When you attend a session on Free Day of Yoga (Labor Day weekend) or at Yoga in the Park, give yourself permission to count it as part of your home practice. After all, the point is to connect with your body and mind daily as part of a spiritual practice. And just like any other “significant other,” your practice benefits from the daily-ness of meeting yourself on the mat as much as your choices of Instagram-worthy poses.


5. Cut yourself some slack
 

“But what if I can’t do it for 24 days straight?” Anyone who has ever stopped eating sugar can tell you that there’s no value in “all or nothing.” You’re going to slip up, you’re going to oversleep, you’re going to get out of your routine. Life Happens! But each day is a new day....and if you choose to establish a yoga habit by rolling out your mat for a goal of 5 days out of 7, then you will meet your 24/200 goal at the time that is right for you! No matter how those shiny stickers are sprinkled on your calendar, they’ll look great, and you’ll feel the satisfaction of a home practice that is just the right fit for you.


Establishing a home practice isn’t so much about the poses you choose as it is about the daily choice you make to meet yourself on your mat. When establishing a new routine, give yourself grace to separate the content of the practice from the habit of it -- you’re sure to meet success that will pay dividends to your health and well-being!

Lifting My Partner

So turns out I may write here more often, at least until I somehow offend someone and the site crashes… cross your fingers

My yoga experience is pretty limited. I’m not a teacher and I’m not even sure I qualify as a student, but at times I suppose I could be considered both on a technicality. There is one style of yoga that I do help my wife teach and am a student of, Acroyoga. I’m the awkward guy in the front of class going “Hi, I’m Eric and I don’t do yoga.” As I slowly move to my mat….

Now Acro is not your everyday class and truth be told I’ve recruited more unwitting partners by telling their significant others it’s a gateway for people who either don’t like or are reluctant to try yoga. Sorry Brendan… But that’s how it started with me. I like to think of myself as the “Muscle” as I spend most of my time on my back lifting my wife, Amanda with my arms and legs as she does yoga in the air.

Truthfully, there is more to it than that. The bond we share has grown over time the more we practice. We’ve learned how each other moves and feels. When we started there was a lot of fumbling and trying to talk through the movements and now all though I still drop her on occasion… oops, we move with slight touches and eye contact.

Shorts by  My Inner Fire  Mat from  Yoloha Yoga

Shorts by My Inner Fire Mat from Yoloha Yoga

When we started the class, we had couples tell us it was their couple’s therapy. The class does require some amount trust and communication. You need to trust your partner to be there for you, to catch you when you fall. You need to say when something is uncomfortable or you need to get down. Although we always have great spotters during class, we always teach your base is your first spotter, because they feel your body and the balance. Many times I know when my partner is going to fall before they do and it’s my job to ensure that happens as gracefully as possible.

Now let’s be clear I don’t fly. Not because I can’t but because I don’t want to. Have I tried a few poses in the air, sure but that’s not where my interests lie and that’s ok. You don’t have to fly, you don’t have to base but you CAN. Don’t be intimidated to do one or the other based on preconceived notions of body styles. With the right partner and some spotters some poses may be accessible.

These skills though are not just beneficial to couples. It’s more about connecting with people and being open. Our classes almost always have some singles and they get thrown into all the same stuff.  You meet new people and make new friends. Our group grows every week, maybe next week it will be with you.

Maybe Acro isn’t for you, maybe you don’t want to rely on another person for your practice and that’s ok, but there is more to yoga than the standard studio or gym class. Try a workshop, learn headstands, learn meditation, or try hanging off fabric from the ceiling. Take a dive into adventure yoga and see where it takes you. I’m going to go lay on my back and watch Amanda do yoga on my feet.

Avoiding Burnout

Amanda Quintanilla~JBWY Owner wearing  Inner Fire

Amanda Quintanilla~JBWY Owner wearing Inner Fire

Avoiding Burnout

It's easy to get wrapped up in something near and dear to our hearts especially when we are just starting out in a particular hobby or when we make the hobby our career. Yoga is no exception as a beginner I found myself trying to soak up as much information as possible. There was so much to learn and not enough hours in the day to learn it all. I found myself reading all the books, magazines, and websites I could find on the various yoga related topics that piqued my interest. After becoming a certified teacher when I wasn't studying my new career I was on my mat building sequences and learning from my body. This led me to become a teacher training junkie.

While there is nothing wrong with studying, practicing and taking additional training in itself; it's important to find balance in the way that we go about our learning journey. As I immersed myself further into the journey I found I was prone to injury from exhaustion and over training while maintaining my intense teaching schedule. There was no cross training to help balance what I did on my mat. I found a few ways to help fend off the burnout I saw fast approaching.

1. Cross Training

Especially in the yoga world there are certain motions we simply don't do. For me, I found weakness in my back body and any pulling motion. Upon finding Stand-up Paddle boarding I realized the pulling motion during paddling coupled with the cardio aspect made it a perfect and enjoyable cross training activity. Shortly after I picked up resistance training again after many years, but this time around it was coupled with my yoga practice to maintain flexibility.

2. Get Creative

Creating yoga sequences has a creativity in and of itself, but I found the less creative I was in other avenues the less creative I became on my mat. Without indulging my creativity off the mat my classes became stale and uninspired. Turning back to other creative aspects like knitting, sewing and spinning allowed my mind to find rest in rhythmic movement. Much like yoga it allowed my mind to free itself of the demands to create under pressure, and in turn my sequence creations came more naturally.

3. Reconnect with Community

This may seem like a no brainer, but I found it harder to connect with our community while teaching in the studio so frequently. What I loved was becoming a chore. That's when I decided to take a step back and attend a teacher gathering that my home studio holds monthly. Taking time just to eat and chat with my fellow teachers helped to reignite what I love about my career. Knowing I may not be the only teacher feeling the way I did helped me to realize I had support when necessary.

In today’s rush we all think to much, seek too much, want too much and forget about the joy of just Being.
— Eckhart Tolle

I would love to hear of different ways you've found to help avoid burnout when you find yourself on your mat maybe a bit to frequently or teaching to many classes. What ways are you cross training, getting creative, and reconnecting with your community? Comment on Facebook to join the conversation!