(even if you can’t stand on one leg, or even two)
Were you intimidated to walk/limp/roll into a yoga studio for the first time? I know I was. There were all these super skinny girls who seemed to be able to balance on one fingernail. I have enough trouble balancing on two legs! But I did it, and LOVED it! Now we have to practice via Zoom, or Instagram Live. I’m a teacher, even own my own studio, but practicing at home has been a struggle. I like the room, the people, the teacher, and yeah, for me, the heaters.
I’ve seen some of my studio’s clients every day in the Zoom classes, but others not at all. My practice suffered too. I blamed it on my parents. They are at my house during this Covid-19 lockdown too. When I hear why people aren’t in the online classes, it’s the same reasons, work and family. Or they are in the class with their cellphone constantly going off while they try to work during the practice. (I might be speaking directly to my best friend with that one.)
There’s a saying, “7 days to change your life, 5 days to maintain.” That’s so much pressure! But, if you create a blissful home practice now, it’ll be there as a compliment to the practice you have at your favorite studio. Or maybe it’s a kickstart to realizing yoga is for you too, no matter what issues you may have. I’m a gimp and I do it!
If you haven’t found your zen at home yet, here are 5 simple secrets to make your home practice blissful.
1. You only need a small corner of space
If you’ve ever practiced in a crowded studio, you already know that you only need enough space to lay out your mat to practice. Sure, we all dream of a meditation/yoga room for our yoga bliss, but most of us don’t have that extra room in our house or apartment. Find a space big enough for your mat. A corner that lets you breathe. Maybe place a candle safely nearby. And if you’re a hot yoga fan like me, a space heater and a humidifier help too. That’s it. A little space where you can tune out the world for just a little part of your day.
One big note though, don’t bring your cellphone or your computer into that space. (Other than to zoom your class) Just because you’re at home, doesn’t mean you should multitask. Yoga may be all about connection, but allow that time to be focused connection to yourself. The deeper truth is that you have to care for yourself if you want to be able to care for others.
2. You don’t need fancy yoga equipment
When I was a teenager, I was spoiled! I wanted to learn to ski so my parents took me to a sporting goods store and bought me everything! I mean, it was the 80s and my outfit matched from head to ski…white, hot pink, and teal. Oh yeah, I said white, hot pink, and teal…including the skis! We didn’t know I had a disability then. Needless to say, I couldn’t ski. I wasted all that equipment, all that money.
So if you are just starting out, grab a towel to use as a mat. Maybe a dog leash, tie or another towel for a strap, and some pillows for blocks and bolsters. If you have balance issues like I do, a sturdy chair or table nearby will help too.
However, if you already know that you love yoga, spend a little more on your gear. I’ve seen too many people come into the studio with really inexpensive mats that slide on the floor and their feet slide on the mat. Those mats also fall apart quickly. My favorite mat is the Eco 6mm from Manduka. It provides just enough cushion to support my knee injury, yet firm enough that it doesn’t add an extra struggle to my already challenged balance. It also has a strong no-slip surface that is easy to clean.
3. A few minutes is all you need
At first, I wanted to take the longest class on the schedule, really get my money’s worth, and kick my butt. But that’s not what yoga is about, it’s about mind, body, and soul in pure joy. That really sank in when my disability didn’t want to play along with the butt-kicking idea.
One posture, one breath, one minute, start where you feel comfortable. Make a commitment to yourself that you can keep. Yoga is there to create wellness. When you find the connection to yourself, your body can be your guide to your practice. Use resources like https://www.yogajournal.com/poses Yoga Journal’s Pose Guide to find a posture by anatomy or benefit and find one that speaks to you. Also use Yoga Journal’s Guide to Pranayama https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/types/pranayama to learn just a few of the basic breath practices.
As you find comfort in one posture, one breath, one moment, your body, mind, and spirit will encourage you to find more as you are ready.
4. Find a live yoga teacher online
I know there are a lot of free resources out there right now, and you can totally take advantage of them. But even as a trained teacher and yoga therapist, I still need a teacher to correct or guide my posture once in a while. If you have any issues, need any modifications, spend the time with a teacher and allow their training to help you find your way.
The first time I thought of going to a hot yoga studio, my friend told me I’d hate it because I have no balance due to my disability and it was a lot of standing and balancing. I didn’t listen…I’m stubborn. Instead I called the studio and was told to get my butt in there because they would help me figure out how to modify so that I could get all the benefits from the practice in a way that supported my body and my needs.
And if you wonder how the teacher will react to you asking for so much help, let me tell you the truth…most of us decided to teach yoga because it transformed our lives and we want to share that with others. We LOVE helping people get those magical moments we’ve found. We truly are there for our yogis!
Plus, yoga sequences are referred to as a moving meditation. Sometimes it’s nice to turn off your mind and let someone else decide the sequence of postures. Allow yourself that space to just breathe and move. You can always take breaks if you need them. We say that the yoga teacher is your guide and YOU are your teacher.
(My studio and our teachers, including me, are online now. http://www.yogaharmonynashville.com)
5. Just be…be open, be present, be YOU
Be open to whatever happens from your practice. I was always told my disease would only get worse. After a steady practice, I actually found improvement, so I don’t ever say “can’t” – I learned to say “maybe not today.” “Can’t” closes the door. “Maybe” allows the possibility.
Be present in each moment. It’s not about what you did yesterday, or what you might do tomorrow. Find peace and calm in the place you are today. There is a saying, “be present, it’s a gift.”
Be YOU! Yoga is union, connection, to mind/body/sprit, to each other, to the universe. Whatever makes you different, weird, a misfit, is what makes you unique, and it’s the gift you have to share with the world. You being authentically, boldy, YOU is what makes the world a better place.