Back when you used to go to your yoga studio, you may not have fully realised what you were getting from there. Yoga, obviously, but the physical movement was just one aspect of it. How many times have you heard a yoga teacher say ‘if you’ve made it to class on your mat, you’ve already completed the hardest part’ ? (I loved hearing this, my inner cheer leader shakes her pom poms and does a suitably appropriate back flip in celebration…). The fact is, that in our busy lives, dedicating that time out of our day/week/month is a reflection on our self-care practice. We are prioritising it over a sleep in, after work drinks or couch potato time. So scheduling that time in, leaving the house, not turning around and showing up, is the hardest part of the yoga practice (*disclaimer, I don’t mean to shame and rule out the prior mentioned things. These are very much needed in moderation to keep us happy).
So why now, when we don’t have to leave the house, and we
can set up our devices and mats in our living rooms that we’re still finding it
so hard to keep to that?
Because we’re not making it a special ritual like before. Prior
to the COVID-19 restrictions, leaving the house, putting our yoga mat in the
car or slinging it over our shoulder to take to the studio was part of defining
the ritual… So now we’re home, we need
to define this new ritual to build some separation between home ‘stuff’ and
yoga time. Another reason is that we’re also not setting up the space like the
way that our studio worked tirelessly to do.
So what can we do?
1. Schedule it:
You did this before, do it now. Setting up a consistent routine, helps to build structure in your day and week. Something that a lot of us are missing out on. However, don’t get suckered in by the idea that, because we’re at home more, then we should be smashing goals in double speed. We’re collectively tired, set yourself goals to do classes that will nourish you, not punish you.
2. Create some ambience:
Go to your nearest department store and pick up designer
homewares that will create an ambient space in your spare room that is now your
new yoga room… Just kidding. Please don’t do that. Think about what makes you
feel comforted and relaxed. What do you notice/recall from your yoga studio? Is
it the lighting, the music, perhaps a scent in the air, small visual touches
like plants or objects of meaning. Take some time to explore what touches help
you feel more in the yoga zone and apply them to your space. Maybe your space
is not a permanent space. That’s cool, get a box or basket and pop your yoga
kit in there. So that it’s ready and requires minimal fuss grabbing it out and
unpacking and setting it up before class. This also helps to create a ritual
and set your mind up for the practice. Which leads to the next point…
3. Get equipped:
It’s likely that you have a mat, but what about all the other fun equipment that’s provided at a yoga studio? Blocks, bolsters, straps…aerial hammocks. Many studios are selling either new or used equipment right now, including aerial hammocks (plug plug!), but these mightn’t be within your budget right now. So gather some household items that you can substitute for the real things. Pillows, cushions, rolled up and tied blankets substitute well for bolsters, books can be useful instead of blocks and straps can be replicated with belts, towels or neck ties. Get creative and see what you can come up with.
4. Coordinate with other house occupants:
For many of us, we share our home with others – flatmates,
partners, kids, fur kids. And these others are also trying to get on with
school, work, fitness, Netflix… etc. So our yoga space, may also be the
kitchen, living room or bedroom. This point ties in with point #1, when you’ve
scheduled your routine, you can communicate this with your fellow house dwellers
that you need X time on day Y at Z o’clock. Negotiate this with them so that it’s
going to work for everyone. E.g.: Don’t try kitchen yoga whilst the hangry
flatmate is trying to cook a stir fry. Ask for privacy and to not be disturbed,
they will soon realise that you’re much lovelier after your yoga fix.
5. Stick with your routine (flexibly):
Now that you’ve gone to all this effort, stick with it to
create a habit and new routine. Of course, check in with your body and mind and
adjust your schedule to cater best to your needs. Maybe last week you smashed
out 10 Power Vinyasa classes, but this week you’re lucky to roll off the
couch-get some more yin and mobility in place of some of those power classes
Remember that it is normal to feel not normal in a very not normal
situation. Yoga teaches us kindness and compassion towards the world, make sure
you include yourself in there and invite gentleness and love into your own body,
mind and spirit so that you can in turn reflect it back into the world.