The Yoga Culture: 5 Steps I Took to Kick Start my Home Practice

“The yoga pose is not the goal. Becoming flexible is not the goal. Standing on your hands is not the goal. The goal is serenity. Balance. Truly finding peace in your own skin.” ― Rachel Brathen, Yoga Girl

How I was able to nurture my self-discipline practices successfully

Lessons from the mat, transferred into the heart

Yoga instructor: “Now just breathe and stand in Tadasana”.

Me: “ TA-what?!” what the heck is that?!

LOL. me in my first class of yoga. And probably so many other people first trying a new class. Something that I believe can be really helpful before attending your first class and getting comfortable in your home practice is to get to know the lingo! I also value the sanskrit because it brings so much history. Sanskrit was actually documented as one of the first written records in history. How cool is that?! This philosophical language had a huge influence onto other languages today.

When I first went to my class there were so many sanskrit words being used that I just didn’t know-and while you don’t absolutely need it to survive a yoga class-it definitely makes you feel like a bad ass when they tell you to do a Chaturanga dandasana and you’re like “OH! okay I got this!”. Definitely gave me some confidence and I was able to concentrate more on the pose that figuring out what it was I was supposed to be doing…

Even just 10 words can be super helpful! The link above is a great resource to learn some new sanskirt words. Check it out!

Step 1: Wake up early- too cliche? That’s because it works.

Waking up early is easy for some, hard for most. For me, it wasn’t always easy- so, I trained myself to be a morning person over the years. I did this because I found that allowed me to achieve my goals faster. It’s that simple. I had more time to complete tasks and set aside time for myself to cross off all the things I had on my list for the day —and most of the time be able to do it before noon. That alone made me happier. And for me, that was such an accomplishing feeling to have-every single day, that I decided I couldn’t live without that routine. It changed everything. I’m not going to pretend that a lot of days its really hard for me to wake up and I that I don’t have sleepy eyes walking around like a damn zombie with her coffee. But, I’m doing it. Waking up in the morning with the sun, when the world is still quiet, accompanied by my hot coffee is my favorite time of the day. I roll out my mat and take a seat, sip some joe, and start to slowly wake up my body. I show up for me, which leads me into being reliable to yourself below.

Step 2: Be reliable-to yourself

If you have ever read The Four Agreements, which I completely advise anyone and everyone to of the Agreements is to be impeccable with your word. So, to tie it into being reliable. If you say that you’re going to do something for yourself-do it. You’ll feel better! If you want to be able to put trust into others and show up for others in your life- you have to being with yourself first. Becoming reliable isn’t just for everyone close to you to reap the benefits from. You should be reaping the benefits of your reliability and loyalty first and foremost. If you tell yourself you’re going to wake up in the morning at 7:30am-get it done. If you say that you’re going to practice yoga for 15 minutes today and then write in your journal for 10 minutes, get after it. Be reliable to you. And that will eventually flood out into all of your other relationships seamlessly.

Step 3: Really, only 20 minutes?

Yep. 20 minutes. A lot of the mornings that I wake up, I am only spending about 20 minutes on my mat to warm up my body and wake myself up before I begin my day. Now I’m not saying that my practice only lasts 20 minutes every single time. Some mornings, if I have the time- I’’ll practice for an hour. For me, it gets me into the right headspace and I set my intent for the day. How do I know what flow to do? Well, that took some time- I watched a lot of videos, read a lot, and eventually began to attend a lot of classes that I started creating my own sequences to whatever felt organic and right in those moments for me and my body. Sometimes I move suuuper molasses slow and other days I can’t stop doing inversions and flowing more fluidly. It’s whatever my body decides it wants that morning. I set a little timer for twenty minutes, I play some Sabrina Claudio as of lately, and just get moving.

Step 4: Proclaim your goals everyday, out-loud, yes, out-loud.

Okay, another book reference- Radical Acceptance. This book helped me get through one of the toughest times in my life. I completely suggest reading it. I took away a lot of beautiful life tools that I still use years later. One of the tools I took away from this book was to say things out-loud. How do I feel? Anxious? Proud? Sluggish? Empowered? Sad? Distracted? … You get the idea. Anyways-I took this chapter and fit it into my yoga practice. So, often times I will say my intention out-loud. I will literally put that shit everywhere. I will write it on my whiteboard, I will write it in my journal, my phone in my notes, i will put a screenshot of my goal as a background in my phone. I will keep talking about it. And lo and behold, my goals are achieved. For example,

“My goal today is to practice yoga for twenty minutes”.

“My goal for myself today is to drink less coffee.”…okay that one may never come true for me haha..

“My goal for this week is to practice yoga everyday”…

“My goal for this month is to be able to hold my least favorite pose for 5 breaths with ease and a smile on my face”

See? It’s easy. Just proclaim your goals, yoga or not yoga. Don’t feel silly to say them out-loud and repeat them everyday or throughout the day. They are meaningful and they deserve to be treated as such.

Step 5: It’s okay to switch it up to keep yourself engaged

Maybe you really can’t stick to a specific time to practice everyday, or a few times a week. The important thing is to also keep yourself from getting bored with a routine. Keep it interesting. Read A LOT. Buy some yoga books!! Help familiarize yourself with the philosophy and asanas. Why we practice these poses. Try something new! Try a new pose one week. Incorporate a new idea, new mantra, new approach to your practice. Even if it is trying a new pose that you aren’t too keen on, maybe that’s exactly what you need. Or maybe your yoga practice in the morning is just meditation for that day. Maybe it’s both. It is okay to keep things evolving and changing and you don’t have to stick to one routine for endless amounts of weeks or months. My practice looks slightly different all the time. And hey, sometimes- I just really can’t get on my mat. And that is giving yourself a switch up too. Once in a while I just take a whole day off from physical activity and go to happy hour with my girls-and that’s okay too :).

Photos taken by : @ThePaulGarrett