Contrary to popular belief, practicing in a studio is immeasurably easier than staying home and trying to practice. Even though you must get dressed, get in your car and fight traffic, once you're there, you're there. There's no turning around. However, at home you roll out your mat then fight with babies or pets for mat space. You keep thinking about that pile of dishes in the sink and holy cow! when was the last time I dusted under that? So many distractions! Not to mention the temptation for laziness. If I skip this vinyasa no one will know, can't really do that pose might as well skip it, I don't feel like challenging myself so let's skip navasana entirely. Any one else feel this way?
This is a prime time to practice not only your physical asana but one of the other limbs of yoga; Tapas, or discipline. How much does this practice mean to me? How disciplined am I to show up on my mat even when the circumstances aren't ideal. How do I act when no one is looking? Do you see where I'm going here? Everything we learn on our mat inevitably permeates into your daily lives. Start practicing doing what's good and right even when it's hard work.
Here are a few tips and thoughts from your fellow Ganesh Ashtangi's on how they create and maintain a home practice.
“To be honest, I would much rather practice in community with my teacher but that's not always possible. Over the last 3 years or so I have learned that I am a much better person when I maintain a daily practice. My body is stronger as is my mind and my heart so practicing daily is very important to me. I have a dedicated space in my home for my practice. My mat is always there and waiting. Some days I step onto it and think I'm only doing Sun A and Sun B today and that's ok. Rarely do I stop there. Once I do those, I'm hooked. Sometimes I think, I'll do Sun A, Sun B and only 3 breaths, not 5. I always end up with 5. My practice is usually longer when I'm on my own, because I take more time to get into poses and sometimes I just stay in them longer. Sometimes I'm super lazy with it and just go through the motions, not thinking about bandhas or breathing, but somehow even being a lazy Ashtangi takes longer. Most days my dog gets in my way. Being on my own requires a lot more discipline and there are more distractions, but my home practice is just that - mine. I don't compare myself to anyone, whatever happens that day is good and I have a deep sense of accomplishment for just stepping onto that mat.” - Gina
“On the subject of home practice I struggle deeply. Ashtanga has been the only yoga I have ever attempted to practice at home. The discipline and constancy is where I lack. Though there are several components to my personal experience with home practice. 1) Lack of a teacher. I struggle with trusting my own process in practicing alone. The battle with self is definitely eased with the guidance, compassion and experience of a teacher. 2) The lack of or being able to create a space for practice. It is a sacred space we create and just rolling out my mat in my living room or bedroom is none to appealing to me. The space we create is very important to me. 3) Time. I have a hard enough time just getting to scheduled classes through my week none the less making time at home. I sometime wonder if I made more time to practice at the studio, if it would affect my practice at home, if I would be more determined. I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that all things are subject to change and with my practice there is no exception. I'll just keep showing up on my mat!” – Jason
“The big difference between past Yoga and now is that I feel more comfortable in my skin and I’ve realized yoga reflects a deeper meaning of life than just the poses. Another great thing is that I can carry the basic poses of Ashtanga with me at all times. I don’t need a studio. All I need is my body, breath, a small space, and willingness to do the practice. I’ve implemented my practice into an at home practice as well as continue to go to group classes. I use the at home practice to give my body movement in early morning wake ups but I also see more and more my practice centers and grounds me for the rest of the day. I’m self assured enough that I won’t hurt myself as Christince has given me the confidence to adjust my body and to recognize which pains are Whoa stop and which ones I can gently push through to get more benefit. I currently practice meditation as well and have since 2011. My goal for this month is to practice both back to back. 30 minutes of asanas and breath followed by 30 minutes of focus on the gentle breath of silent meditation. I will still attend group Ashtanga classes as I will always be a student desiring a teacher who can support my practice.” – Sharon
”I have both enjoyed and struggled with practice alone. Pushing through the distractions, allowing the time for practice and it's a whole other challenge facing my thoughts. Having a teacher give me permission and guiding me - holding me accountable and making sure I'm aligned properly cuts out much thought and doubt. At home I have to hold myself accountable and push through other mental barriers, this is actually a good mental challenge (not that I always like it or that it is always this way.)
Sometimes it’s easier for a teacher to see your progess and being pushed further than you knew you could go is so rewarding. Thank gosh I have created a sacred space for practice, that makes it easier and that I have friends to practice with.” - Tara