Spare Me Your At Home Practice Tips
There are no fewer than four billion “How to Succeed as a Home Practitioner” lists floating around the inter-webs. Hell, I’ve even written one! Ha! They are usually well-intentioned and thoughtful, but lately they’ve been annoying the shit out of me. So, I am venting my frustrations, and hopefully some of yours, with an irreverent response to the usual suspects from those lists.
Tip 1. Have a dedicated practice space in your home. Keep it clean and calming.
So you mean the spot between the legos and the giant pile of laundry isn’t ideal? Okay, I’ll build a shed out of organic driftwood to use as my personal yoga shala. Or better yet, my kids have been spoiled with a bedroom long enough. They can sleep in the kitchen. Mama needs her sacred space.
Tip 2. Practice at the same time everyday, preferably before sunrise.
Hahahahahahaha! Good one.
Oh wait. You’re serious?! Okay, I’ll start going to bed when my kids do at 7:30. I’ll sacrifice all my evening decompress time, and do all my evening chores in the afternoon with my kids around to terrorize me. And if they need me in the wee hours of the morning, they can just deal. They’re four and six now, so basically fully functioning adults.
Tip 3. Eat lightly and practice on an empty stomach.
I’m starting to catch the drift. I need to make my life as miserable as possible. I don’t need food or sleep, only yoga postures. Like those Airatarians who consume nothing but air and water, we are to live solely off the sustenance of yoga poses. We can call ourselves Asanatarians.
Tip 4. Do your full practice everyday. Don't skip postures.
That should be no problem since I've got the strength of a bull thanks to my new Asanatarian lifestyle. Ninety minutes of the world's most hardcore yoga before sunrise--six days a week no less--isn't extreme at all. Since I've got nothing else to do in my life, being perpetually sleepy and sore is no problem.
I could keep going, but the joke is getting old.
Basically, my point is that much of the advice out there assumes a level of dedication and sacrifice that, in my opinion, isn’t necessary for successful home practice. In fact, I think setting our expectations too high is a barrier to progress in many cases. One of my favorite quotes is “perfect is the enemy of good.” Yes, practicing before sunrise has benefits, but if it makes practice so miserable that you dread it and skip, is that really better? Also, carrying around expectations about what practice should be is decidedly non-conducive to a healthy, well-rounded yoga experience. The best practice is the one that gets done, and gets done consistently.
If those loftier prescriptions provide the structure you need to get your practice done, then far be it for me to say they aren’t right. Same goes for a more casual approach like mine. I practice pretty much six days a week. Sometimes it’s in the morning; sometimes it’s in the evening. Sometimes I’ve had breakfast. Sometimes I *GASP* have sound and chaos all around me. I simply do what I have to do to make it work for me. I do not subscribe to the philosophy that everything in your life should revolve around your time on the mat or you're not a real yogi. My approach is 50/50. I make my life fit my practice AND I make my practice fit my life. This feels sustainable and balanced.
So the next time you come across a tips and tricks list about how to step up your practice, ask yourself if they make sense to you. Do you need to up your game, or are you buying into expectations that may not be right for you? Read those lists with a discerning eye. Take what works and leave what doesn’t. Work hard but not too hard. Find the right amount of effort.
There is no one-size-fits-all method for successful home yoga practice, and be cautious of anyone who says so.
You do you.
Till next week,