So you’ve been jumping on your yoga train for a little while now. Whether it be online videos or class practice, but have you got to the point where you flow by yourself at home yet? No follow along video. No teacher. Just you. Well, from past experience I can tell you, if not, you have nothing to lose and oh so much to gain from practicing at home on your own. Read on to find out more about the benefits and my top 5 tips on how to get started.
The benefits of self practice
In class or by using a follow along flow, you’ll find that’s it’s ideal for building confidence within the practice. Especially if you’re more of a newbie, it’s great for getting to grips with the postures, flow and breath. But once you are familiar, by taking your practice to your own mat, in your own time, to your own flow you stand to gain so much more from what essentially is YOUR practice. In a class I always tell my students that I’m just a guide to their practice, but in reality they still follow my flow, my speed, my postures. If you were to do it at home you have way more of an opportunity to REALLY tune in to the fullest extent. What does YOUR specific body need. Not what someones telling you to do. Maybe you need a little more time getting into a posture. Or never really get that chance you want to practice a certain posture in class. Maybe today you need more meditation. Maybe your chest feels particularly tight. This is the wonder of self practice. You can do exactly what you need. What you want. No external influence, and ALL the internal influence.
Here’s my top 5 tips below to help you on your way:
1) Start on the floor and work your way to standing
Start low and start slow. Give yourself a moment to check in. How does your body feel today. It’s different everytime you turn up to your mat so see if you can listen to that. This will serve as great direction for the rest of your flow. I like to start in childs pose or supta baddha konasana then work my way more fluidly from there. Some poses I do don’t even have a name…but do you know what, they feel damn good. I groove into my downward dog. I wriggle in my tabletop and cat cows. Remember there’s no such thing as it “looking like yoga”. It doesn’t have to look a particular way. It’s literally just you. That can be a really wonderful thing. Work your way up to standing. Work through some Sun Salutation A’s and B’s (check the links for for a little refresh if your newer to the practice, you can always follow along the Sun Salutations on YouTube to begin with). These warm and prime the body for your later flow. Then after that, literally just flow with it. It’s traditional to practice some standing postures, standing balances, floor poses, inversions, backbends, forward folds and spinal twists. But do you know what? You don’t “have” to do any of those things. Maybe the sun salutations were enough.
Another really nice way to get inspiration is to give yourself a theme. Maybe you can choose something to focus on, like having a peak pose to work up to, or a focus on using your glutes. When I was teaching on our retreat in Ibiza we incorporated fun flows like “You’ve Got the Love” (backbends and heart openings), “Paradise Flow” (tropical themed postures – super fun!) Whichever, you choose I would always recommend at least a few minutes in savasana to seal your practice.
2) Create a playlist that you would love to flow to
This is especially useful if you aren’t necessarily “feeling” the flow that day. Music type is of course is a personal preference. I tend to use slower chilled music to start and finish with some upbeat house in the middle. Usually with very little words to avoid distraction, but I also through in some of my absolute favourites. My hiphop yoga playlist will always hold a special little place in my practice! If you’re in need of some music inspo, check out my spotify here, where I have a ton of them! I hope you like them if you try them out, any recommendations always appreciated!
Note you don’t have to flow to music at all. Some love to flow to it, some are avidly against it. For me, I love it. It helps me get in my groove. Maybe you find it too distracting, then of course by all means do it without it. Remember, it’s your practice. No one elses!
3) Find a space where you feel comfortable without distraction
So we don’t all have the luxury of having a our yoga studio in our house. Try to create a little sacred haven all for yourself as much as you can. Even if that’s the small squeeze of mat space next to your body. If this is you; I live in the city too, I feel you! But make that little space just for you and your mat. Even if that means moving furniture. Try to turn off anything that’s going to distract you. Maybe your cat or dog will settle down after a few minutes. The more you can own the space your in without being distracted by those external influences the better. Turn your phone on plane mode and your laptop to sleep. I turn the email notifications off on my laptop so I don’t here messages as they come in whilst I play my music through my spotify.
I particularly love flowing outdoors. I use my Beats by Dre wireless headphones, and go wild (literally!) If you dont have a garden local parks are great. This might come more easily after more regular self practice. The grass can prove a great tool for gaining confidence in inversion practices and there’s nothing quite like being immersed in nature, breathing it all in.
4) Breathe, take time to listen to what your body is telling you
We spend so much of our time racing around, looking after every one else. We can often fall to bottom of the pile. Take this time and space for you. Slow things down. Listen. Breath. Ancient yogic routes don’t even have the “asana” (postures) involved in the practice. The practice is the breath. Use it. Feel it. Flow to it.
5) Don’t overthink it
Try not to overcomplicate your self practice or place judgement on yourself. Your self practice doesn’t have to be a particular length of time (5 minute flows to wonders for the soul). It’s your unique practice, your unique journey and flow. You do you. Be patient. It’s all part of the yoga practice. So often we see the final most advanced postures brandished around, but actually that’s not actually the point of yoga at all. Yoga teaches us patience, kindness, compassion for ourselves (mind and body). We practice ahimsa (non violence to the body). We breathe on the mat, throughout the practice (even when its gets challenging) in order to be able to take that off our mat and into challenging situations in our day to day lives. All in order to provide ourselves the foundation to be able to breath under challenging scenarios off of the mat. Which essentially allows us to be in a better position to react from a calmer mindset. Don’t beat yourself up if you get distracted or your flow isn’t “perfect”, or you can’t do anything particularly advanced. Allow yourself to be a beginner. Allow yourself to be humbled by the practice. What is advanced? and what is the perfect practice anyway? It’s all part of the practice. In the wise words of Pattabhi Jois “Practice, practice, and all is coming!” – The patience and the learning.
I hope this has gone a little way to enable you to begin your self practice journey. If I’ve managed to inspire just a small part of you to get wiggling to your own groove on your mat then I’m a happy little Kim. Getting started can feel tricky at first. My top tip would be to not overthink it. Just move. It doesn’t have to even “look like yoga”, just do what feels good. Good luck and I’d so love to hear how you get on! Wishing you all the love and greatness that you deserve from your self practice.
Sending health & happiness till next time,
Featured Image outfit: Lululemon Ballet Collection
Post Image: Adidas Wanderlust Collection