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.
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.