At-home yoga seems like it should be as easy as rolling out your mat and easing into downward dog. But even for a veteran like Linda Sparrowe—former Yoga International editor-in-chief, frequent Yoga Journal contributor, and author of six yoga books—finding your flow outside of class can sometimes be a bit, well, confusing.
“To be completely truthful, for years home practice was a challenge for me, even as a longtime practitioner and teacher,” admits Sparrowe. “How can I possibly practice if I don’t have my own yoga room…if I can’t commit to 90 minutes or an hour…if I can’t figure out what to practice?”
For her latest book, Yoga at Home: Inspiration for Creating Your Own Home Practice, Sparrowe sought to answer those questions by profiling the at-home routines of renowned yogis like Seane Corn, Rodney Yee, and Elena Brower.
It’s part yoga guide, and part yoga voyeurism, since in a lot of cases you’re looking into their living rooms.
“[Photographer Sarah Keough and I] were interested in showing how people really live and all the different ways they find moments of stillness and times for practice within their great and messy and beautiful lives,” Sparrowe says.
What did she find? “The intention you set and the awareness you bring to your actions are what make yoga personal. Home practice is as much about ritual as it is about content,” she says.
To inspire your own home routine, Sparrowe takes us inside the homes of five top yogis for their tips. Roll out your mat and let the vinyasa flow. —Larkin Clark
(Photo: ©Sarah Keough, ©Yoga at Home by Linda Sparrowe, Universe Publishing, 2015)
1. Don’t skimp on savasana
Rodney Yee, yoga teacher, studio owner, and co-direcor of Urban Zen Foundation
Home practice, oddly enough, is particularly difficult for advanced practitioners, because they are so used to doing a strong, vinyasa-style practice, Yee says. He encourages them to slow down and add at least a 15-minute savasana (resting pose) to the end of their practice. (Normally it’s about 3 to 5 minutes in class.) “Sometimes you have to sit still long enough for something genuine to arise and then have the courage to follow that arising voice,” says Yee. “And it’s not the same every day. It’s a listening game. After the listening, true activity unfolds in a natural and harmonious way.”
2. Mark your calendars—and make it mandatory
James Brown, founder of American Yoga School
“Prioritize your practice in your ongoing daily schedule,” suggests Brown. “That’s the number one thing that gets me there. Nothing works better for me than a nonnegotiable time slot. If I’ve designated a chunk of time where practice is the only allowed activity, then I get on the mat and see what happens.”
3. Build your practice slowly
Sharon Gannon, co-founder of Jivamukti Yoga in New York City
“Start small!” Gannon says. “Meditation is daunting to people when they hear that someone meditates for an hour. Oh my! Do I have to do that? No. Just sit for one minute. Close your eyes, let go. Breathe in, breathe out. Do that for a week. Set a timer. And then the next week, do it for two minutes. The point is, just do it.”
4. Show up with nonjudgmental curiosity
Sarah Powers, co-founder of Insight Yoga Institute and author of Insight Yoga
“Regardless of what you do, always have a beginning, middle, and end to your practice. The beginning should be some kind of check-in and grounding; the ending should always include savasana. Do a little bit each day and cultivate a generosity of inquiry. The question, ‘What do I really need and want?’ is more important than ‘What is expected of me?'”
Margi Young, an OM Yoga teacher in New York and San Francisco
Young says she keeps a notebook next to her mat. “When I think of tasks during my practice, instead of popping off my mat into action, I quickly jot them down. I usually end up with a list of phone calls to make, emails to write, and dust bunnies to destroy.'”
(Photo: ©Sarah Keough)
For a little extra helping of yogi wisdom, check out the Ayurvedic rituals and yoga videos that kick-start mornings for Rachel Brathen (AKA) Yoga Girl.