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Establishing a Home Practice
Corilee Fox

Just like weeding a garden, you need to keep up with it regularly to keep the weeds from taking over. It's simple - the more time you spend, the more weed-free your garden will be. Similarly if you regularly clear your body of tension and stress you'll move more easily and freely all the time. And over time your body will be better at releasing tension so you can receive a lot of benefit from even a few minutes of yoga.

The ideal way to get more yoga in is to establish a home practice. The key is to avoid treating it like a chore. You want your practice to feel like the eye of calm in the storm, so that even when it's hard to get to your mat you know without a doubt that you'll feel better, even if it's for a few minutes. Here's how:

Find your spot. Identify the place in your home that is quiet and comfortable. In front of a window is great. Doing yoga in a hallway or a damp basement is simply not going to encourage you to find your mat.

Make it home. Go a step further and make the space your own with anything that will make it feel more beautiful, calm or uniquely you. Think about artwork, flowers, or objects that have meaning to you. Other important items might be a light blanket for chilly mornings. Also consider a pillow to sit on or an eye pillow for relaxation.

Breath and check in. Don't jump hurriedly into a bunch of Sun Salutations or your practice will feel as mindless and drudgerous as going to the gym. Start by sitting and breathing. Close your eyes and bring your attention to your body. Notice how your body feels, what your energy level is, and the quality of your thoughts. This will help you get focused and 'out of your head' where we live all day. There's plenty of breathing exercises you can use - check out resources on pranayama for ideas.

Do what your body and mind need. Don't come with any pre-conceived notions of what you should do or in what order. After you've breathed for a few minutes, start to move your body so you can understand what needs attention. Start with some warm-ups like cat/dog stretches, Childs pose, shoulder rolls and side bends from a seated position. See where it takes you. If it's late in the day and you've got pent-up tense energy, Sun Salutations are a perfect way to work through that. And if you have no time, a few minutes of breathing is a great way to get centered before heading off into your day or to end your day.

Make not doing yoga part of your practice. What about when you get sick, get busy or get distracted? That's OK, make that part of your practice by noticing how your life goes without it. Notice if you feel more off-balance, scattered, tense and use that to remind yourself why it's important to get back to your mat. Don't bother being hard on yourself, just notice the difference. As we all know, you attract more bees with honey. Don't treat yourself like a misbehaving toddler when you skip, offer to give yourself a break by going to the mat.

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