4 Tips to Motivate Your Home Yoga Practice. ~ Christine Stump

Via Christine Stump
on Mar 20, 2013
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by lululemon athletica
by lululemon athletica

Are you starting your yoga practice—or maybe starting again? Keep it simple.

“Just do it” might work for gym routines, but won’t cut it on the mat.

Your yoga practice isn’t some transient, target based routine you shoehorn into your schedule. Times when I’ve needed support in getting on my own mat usually have to do with burnout or uncomfortable feelings I’d rather avoid, thank you very much. At those times, drill sergeant tactics are the opposite of practice. Instead, the “Drop and give me 10 Sun Salutations!” voice recapitulates the burnout and avoidance.

What’s needed isn’t all candles and incense either. What gets me to the mat are very practical, simple everyday cues. Somewhere between fairy dust and grunting force of will is a draw, born of experience and experimentation. You know once you’re there, it’ll feel good.

How to bridge the gap between the chasm of avoidance and the playfulness of presence? Use simple, mundane actions to usher you onto your mat. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Use your current routine to find your way to the one you’re creating. Bring  your morning cuppa onto your mat. Whether it’s water, coffee, tea or vodka (just kidding—yoga before cocktails!) this single shift can create a seamless transition. Instead of having to finish your current routine before you roll out the mat, you import it. Hey, I’m not above tricking myself some mornings when the trick has such a massive payoff. You can sit and take a sip or two of hot morning yumminess while you sit on your mat and absorb the loveliness of the fact that you showed up.
  1. Leave gluten-free breadcrumbs. “The best way is to stop…when you know what will happen next,” Hemingway instructs on the practice of writing. The next best thing, when you’ve already stopped and have no idea what will happen next, is to leave yourself breadcrumbs. Not knowing what to do is the number one obstacle my students report: the self-imposed pressure triggers a massive round of monkey bars for the mind. Before you know it, you’ve convinced yourself you don’t have the time or expertise or right to roll out your mat all alone. False. You have all three. Choose three to five poses you want to play with and write the names or draw stick figures out the day before. If you want examples, I posted some breadcrumbs for students on my blog.

  1. Create a container. If staleness is your main concern with bread crumbs, plan just the beginning and end of each practice. This creates a container of sorts and frees you up in between. I begin sitting in vajrasana, or sitting on my shins, and just observe the feelings of breathing in and out. I end with a selected sequence of finishing poses. You can begin in Mountain pose and end with Bridge before Corpse pose . If you know the beginning and the end, you may find it easier to show up.

  1. Choose a simple signal. Whether you have a fancy bell to ring or start the same music every time, simply having a repetitive action that you associate only with coming to your mat can be powerfully settling. I have come to look forward to ringing a particular bell at the start and end of practice. It sends a wave of “Okay, you’re here now, until this bell rings again,” and allows me to sink in to simply doing the next thing and the next thing and the next thing.

How do you work yoga into your everyday, get it done and out the door life? Share your bridge or just declare that you’re owning your practice by leaving a comment! Yoga allows you to come as you are and leave renewed. Do it yourself renewal in a package you already have: your body, breath and mind.


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Asst. Ed.: ShaMecha Simms
Ed: Brianna Bemel


About Christine Stump

Christine practices yoga and helps regular people own their yoga practice in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She credits her home practice obsession to her early Ashtanga experience and her longevity to her subsequent eclecticism. After leaving academic philosophy to realize her childhood dream of becoming a paramedic, she became a yoga teacher to understand her own practice more fully. Christine integrates the best of Aristotle and Zen and tailors each individual or small group practice to the people in the room. Her unique understanding of anatomy and physiology integrates her experience as a paramedic with several “flavors” of hatha yoga to support people in finding wholeness, acceptance and freedom in their bodies. Christine’s practice of yoga through hip replacement and living gracefully with PTSD have added to her understanding of the infinite modification and applicability of yoga practices. Find out more about Badlands Yoga at badlandsyoga.com.


11 Responses to “4 Tips to Motivate Your Home Yoga Practice. ~ Christine Stump”

  1. Love the idea of bringing your "morning cuppa" to the mat. Sitting quietly to start your practice with a warm beverage in hand, especially on cold mornings, can be just what I need to get me on my mat! "Asorb the loveliness of the fact that you showed up." YES!

  2. Christine says:

    Thanks Katie, that's one of my favorites, too. Great article on ujjayi this morning! Thanks for reading.

  3. alice says:

    Yes, I like the idea of starting my day enjoying a cup of hot tea on the mat and breathing in the morning with a couple of easy poses.

  4. Christine says:

    Thank you Alice for your wonderful catch 🙂

  5. Michelle says:

    I like your idea of tying your current routine into your yoga practice…easing into yoga with something I do every day (have coffee). That might work for me.

    My struggle is that when I most need yoga, it's hard to summon the energy to get out my mat and it's too easy to say, "I'll do yoga tomorrow." Since I do yoga a few times a week, not every day, it's easier to rationalize postponing it. Is the problem not doing yoga every day? Tips anyone? Or is it just me.

  6. Christine says:

    Hi Michelle, thanks for commenting. I'd say that's only a problem if you *want* to do yoga every day. If you're wanting to do yoga but do other things instead, maybe skip the getting out the mat step. Right where you are, lift your arms into Warrior I position or engage in pranayam – maybe alternate nostril breathing or complete breath. These can be gateway poses 🙂 and one thing might lead to the next… a Side Angle pose… then Downward Dog. Next thing you know you've dogged your way to the mat!

    Any other ideas for Michelle? I can guarantee it's NOT just you!

  7. Robyn says:

    I just wanted to say hello from a fellow Albuquerquean! Thanks for the article.

  8. Christine says:

    Hi Robyn from Albuquerque!

  9. Michelle says:

    Skip the mat and bring your warm coffee mug with you to start your yoga – like it!

  10. Yes! My home practice is definitely easier now that I'm working on the primary series, because generally, I know what's coming next. There's no "what do I feel like doing today?" I get to enjoy receiving or working on new postures in my classes, and then home is…home. Familiar, working on what's already laid out for me. I do think spring will make it much easier to get out of bed and on my mat too though! Many mornings, the fact that it's still dark out is tough!

  11. Christine says:

    The darkness does make it seem that much cozier in bed, but then getting to watch the light dawn is a wonderful thing to look forward to! I took so much comfort in the primary series; it seemed to me like the perfect amount of repetition and newness, because the *feeling* of practice was so different every day. Now I'm getting nostalgic! Maybe some flowers in your yoga area to lure you out of the covers? Thanks for sharing your practice, Kate!