5 Ways to Kill Your Home Practice

Want to start and stick with a home practice? Take Erica Rodefer Winter's list as a warning of what NOT to do.
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Want to start and stick with a home practice? Take Erica Rodefer Winter's list as a warning of what NOT to do.

I've started—and stopped—a daily home yoga and meditation practice so much it's almost funny. Every time I get started it lasts a few weeks and—BAM!—life wreaks havoc on my fragile routine. Next, comes the slippery slope and before you know it has been way too long since I unrolled my mat in my living room. But it's not all bad; here's the part I'm proud of: I get up and I start the cycle all over again. What I once saw as a devastating blow to my practice (Oh no! It's been a week! I'm a failure!), I now see as an opportunity to learn something—what NOT to do if you want to maintain a regular daily practice.

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Here are my 5 biggest home practice killers. I share this not so you can avoid the pitfalls (they're inevitable if you're human), but so that when they happen to you, you'll know you're not alone, take them in stride, and start over again.

"Ooh, Look—Shiny!" Distractions. Whatever you do, do NOT put your smart phone at the front of your mat so you can see it light up during your Warrior I. You'll be tempted to stop and look at it during every Chaturanga or Cobra and you KNOW it's going to be something important that will "only take a second." If you let yourself stop mid-practice to answer an email once, you'll do it again. And before you know it you'll be at your desk, back at work, vowing that you'll pick up where you left off tomorrow.

The Loosey Goosey Approach. If you are relying solely on the spirit moving you to unroll your mat, you might be waiting a long time—especially when life gets busy. I love following my intuition once I've started practicing, but if it's not based on some kind of structure or plan it's not likely to turn into a longstanding daily practice. Schedule it in; don't wait until you feel desperate to move and de-stress.

Procrastination. Here's how this works: You know you should practice at your designated time, but you're on a roll with the project you've been working on, or your stomach is rumbling and you need a snack, or you swear you'll do it after you watch "just ONE more" episode of Mad Men on Netflix.

The Slippery Slope. This one comes after procrastinating and missing your practice. You start to think, "I missed it yesterday, so what's one more day going to hurt?" And so begins a cycle that can go on for weeks, or even months, of not practicing at home.

Looking for Inspiration in All the Wrong Places. Reading an article about someone else's yoga experience is not the same as practicing yourself. Trust me on this one. As a yoga blog junkie I have often spent a spare 10 minutes reading someone else's truths or tips under the guise of inspiring my own practice. I do get lots of great ideas from my searches for inspiration, but it only becomes tangible when I find my inspiration on my own mat through my own experiences. And that is the only thing that really motivates me to keep practicing.