Cultivating and sustaining a creative, yummy and intuitive yoga practice and home is possible.
1. Stop “shoulda-ing” on yourself!
A wise yogini once said this to me and it helped me put it into perspective. If you make anything a chore then it will be, well, a chore! You will then inevitably find reasons to avoid or reschedule it. We can all be tricky like that! Instead, try considering your home practice a weekly and eventually a daily gift to yourself.
2. Stop measuring your home routine by your studio practice!
Let the two be what they are, different. The studio space will never be as personally tailored to your immediate needs and the home will never be as collaborative. So let them be what they are. Let the two practices support one another instead of measuring one against the other.
3. Plant “time seeds” and watch them grow!
If your goal is just five minutes a day or five minutes a week, your home practice will grow organically without force. You’ll reach your goal and surpass it. Promise. You will feel accomplished and refreshed.
4. Create an easy access space and toy box!
Set the scene. Create your altar or home yoga box ahead of time. It’s like having a toy box as a kid. You might not play with all of the toys but they are there to choose from and you can always add to it. Add some things that motivate you or help you “drop-in” to your practice, preferably where they are visible. For example, I keep a candle, colored pencils, certain essential oils, my blocks and straps, a basket of inspirational mini-quote books, collage images and my journal in one spot. Adding a bud vase because you can pick one flower to fill it anytime. Easy access to music is important to me also.
5. Choose the right temperature!
This may seem obvious to some but until I turned on the heater for my home practice I couldn’t sustain it. So please, experiment with the temperature of your designated space. Or take a hot or cool shower and then move directly to your mat.
6. Use other artists’ creations to organize your time!
For example, choose a poem or part of a sacred text and take five breaths in a chosen asana reflecting on each line. See what shape each line conjures. Or choose a song. One of my favorite teachers has us move to one contemporary inspirational song and then one more traditional yogic song. This also serves as a great way to set your time without glances at the clock. Or choose an image from a magazine or a photo and use it as your object of mediation and focus or theme that week. Images from free community yoga magazines offers great imagery for reflection at no cost.
7. It’s just creative movement!
I find that approaching my home practice as a moving meditation with full curiosity about my own experience is the most gentle and supportive. It keeps it from being cerebral and less intuitive. I am so thankful to my teachers who imparted this type of self-love. In other words, let your home practice be intuitive and listen to what your body, heart and mind needs in each moment. Take a moment to listen a little extra before you get started and when you end. That’s the gift. Work from toe to head, feeling grounded into the earth. Just check in with each part as you move upward. Listen. Ask what does this part need today. Move from supine to standing and back to supine. Move from left to right and right to left. Make small circles and big circles with your legs and arms. Create a unique flow and shape with each breath and hold when you feel inclined to do so. Get out of your head and into your whole body! Try to close with the same thing each day, such as an OM or preselected mantra or word at least for the first month. It creates a touchstone.
8. Journal about it!
Keep a yoga journal to close your practice. You will be able to recognize your processes and lessen your concern with progress. Stop competing with yourself and start loving yourself on the mat at home. Allow your time on the mat to be a conversation with your creative self and let your journal be a reflection of that. Take a few minutes to jot down a closing thought about your process or what came up for you. Challenges, fears or wishes. A doodle will suffice. Don’t judge it. Just jot it down and go. Reflect and analyze if you must later. The bonus is if you keep all your inspirational poems and pictures in one journal you will have an “inspiration book” to continue to use as well as a personal memoir. Enjoy!
Andrea Bellini Spilling is an art therapist, artist, teacher and mentor living and creating in New Orleans, LA where she was born and has recently returned. She is always brainstorming and collaborating to cultivate more safe creative spaces for youth to explore. She likes midnight blooming jasmine and music in the streets. Connect with Andrea on her site.
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- Assistant Ed: Karla Rodas
- Ed: Brianna Bemel