Home Practice Myths

For years Erica Rodefer Winters struggled to maintain a home practice. Not anymore. Here she describes the myths that she had to debunk to get there. What "myths" keep you from practicing at home?
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For years Erica Rodefer Winters struggled to maintain a home practice. Not anymore. Here she describes the myths that she had to debunk to get there. What "myths" keep you from practicing at home?

There are a million reasons to practice at home, all by yourself. From having the freedom to do whatever poses you like, learning to listen to your own intuition about what suits your energy, and an opportunity to play and explore to learn more about yourself. (Plus, have you seen this study? You can’t argue with science, people!)

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While, I’ve always known that a home practice would be beneficial in myriad ways, but for years I just couldn’t do it no matter how much I wanted to. Why? I was buying into some of the most common myths about how a home practice should be instead of making it work in my situation.

Thankfully a few years ago one of my teachers taught a class about “demystifying” home practice. It doesn’t have to be so complicated, he said. In fact, most of the people he knew who have consistent home practices enjoy their asana along with a cup of coffee, a newspaper, or at the very least a bit of conversation. When I heard this, a light bulb went on in my head. All of those times when I got back from class and just had to try that new pose I had learned again and again really does count as a home practice?! Maybe I’m not such a bad yoga student after all! Suddenly it wasn’t quite as challenging to practice at home, and I was able to do so with more consistency.

Here are a few of the myths that have halted my home yoga practice in the past, but no more!

You have find a time a place to be uninterrupted. If you’re waiting for the perfect window to practice at home, it’s never going to happen. The second I get out my yoga mat, my dog comes running. (She sees it as an opportunity to shower me with licks. This is sweet, but not exactly conducive to a relaxing asana session.) In fact, this is one of the best lessons I’ve taken away from my home practice. There will be interruptions. There will be surprises. There will be plenty of “uh ohs” and “oh nos.” Can you take a deep breath, gather your focus, and start again? If you practice doing this when something disrupts your home practice, you’ll be better prepared for when it happens in life.

You need a dedicated space just for yoga. That’s nice in an ideal world. In my world, my mat is often surrounded by baby and/or dog toys that I don’t feel like cleaning up because as soon as naptime is over they’re going to find their way onto the floor again. Sometimes, I don’t even bother to unroll my mat. Maybe it’s lazy, but I think of it as putting my energy into what really matters. I don't have an altar. I don't light candles. I just move and breathe.

You have to practice for an extended period of time. Just taking five minutes to stretch your hamstrings and take deep breaths can completely shift your day.

You need to be a yoga teacher and know how to sequence a class. Even if you do know a lot about sequencing, it can be way more fun to experiment and to see what works best for you. I love practicing at home because I can break all the rules, do what feels good to me in the moment, and just have fun. (This article by Jason Crandell provides some pointers for creating a sequence template for your home practice.)

What are some of the barriers that keep you from practicing at home? How have you overcome them?