Home Practice Transformation Tips

Without the benefit of studio classes for structure and guidance, Erica Rodefer Winters set out to remake her home practice. Here she shares some tips that is keeping her yoga fresh.

I almost never make it to a yoga studio right now. As a work-from-home mom, my home life is crazy busy, so my home yoga practice has to serve as my me-time, my exercise, my meditation, my relaxation, my stress-buster, my sanity-saver … my everything, really.

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There's a lot riding on those few precious moments on my mat. But without a teacher to guide me, it sometimes feels like I'm just going through the motions of a routine—and not really moving mindfully and making the subtle adjustments that I know can really be transforming. So recently I set out to change that by focusing on one small thing I can apply to my poses as I practice similar to theme that a teacher might build a sequence around. I'm starting to feel that transforming quality in both my body and my mind that I used to get from a teacher's adjustments and watchful eye.

Here's what I've been focusing on:

Get grounded. As I move through the poses, I focus my attention on whatever is touching the floor—my feet in standing poses, my legs in seated forward bends, my hands in Down Dog and arm balances. I make an effort to press a little more into the floor and feel how that stretches the crown of my head (or other body part that I find is closest) closer to the ceiling.

Core connection. I have to really think about it to use my core muscles as I practice poses that aren't traditionally core-strengthening poses. But I've found that simply becoming more mindful of my center helps me feel more integrated in my poses. And it works out well, because I hate "core work" that resembles old-school crunches—so I almost never do that at home.

Set an intention. One of the things that has been missing from my home yoga practice was the ever-popular "intention" that yoga teachers often ask you to make at the beginning of class. I'm finding that it's even more moving in my home practice because I can design my whole practice around my intention. If my intention is to feel more energetic, I can practice poses that usually make me feel that way. If my intention is to be more kind and loving in the world, I can work on that in my own way, too.