nuts and bolts, props

Setting up your home yoga space

It’s not always possible to have a dedicated yoga space. If you can do it, though, great! It might be a hallway, or a corner of your bedroom. Even in a limited space, try to keep your mat visible as a reminder that you’re trying for daily practice.

Freddie has no respect for the yoga mat.

I usually practice in our family room where I can keep a mat unrolled with a little stack of blankets. When I see it, I remember what I am supposed to do. It’s just a bit tricky to keep the dogs from taking it over.

Here are some ideas for props you can find around the house.

  • Blankets – If you have a firm wool blanket, you can use that. It’s likely to be bigger than the normal yoga blankets, but you can fold it in numerous different ways to meet your needs. Modern (non-wool) blankets tend to be too squishy for yoga. Big towels work very nicely, because they can create a firm base for, say, shoulder stand.
  • Blocks – Well, bricks. Really. Do you have any bricks outside? Clean them off and wrap them in dishtowels to make them easier to handle. For poses where you need a block that you won’t be putting weight on, you can use tissue boxes, preferably full. Or take some books you know you’ll never read and wrap them in duct tape.
  • Straps – Bathrobe ties, dishtowels, single bed sheets folded lengthways, martial arts belts from when your kid took tae kwon do, and many other items will work nicely, depending on what you need them for. Generally, they should be 6-8 feet long. Don’t use men’s ties – they are cut on the bias and are too stretchy to use.
  • Bolsters – Got an old quilt? Roll it up into a bolster and tie it together. You can do the same with several bath towels. Sofa and chair cushions are good in some cases.
  • Chairs – Best case would be to get a folding chair that you don’t care about and beat the back of it out. But try using your dining room chairs, or a footstool.

Look around for big things or architectural features of your house. Can you use your countertops? Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana (backbend over a chair) over the arm of your sofa? Uttanasana (standing forward bend) with your hands on the bottom step of the staircase? I have a half-wall that is a good place to do hip stretches. A hallway can be used for walking up the wall into a handstand.

general blather

Zoom and home yoga

I am on Zoom a LOT these days. I’m teaching two or three classes a week, and having breakfast and cocktails (not at the same time) with family and friends, and going to various meetings. It’s a huge boon for staying in touch with people. Sometimes, though, I just need to walk away and be in the 3D world.

Today I practiced with two of my three home yoga friends. We have been getting together on Friday mornings for years, and now we’re doing it on Zoom. It has been extremely satisfying to see each other. We are surprisingly much more focused than we are when we practice together in person.

It’s instructive to see yourself on screen, to see, “whoa, my back leg isn’t straight at all,” make the correction, and see the result. However, I realized that I was not exactly in my body. We were talking about the point of balance being in the front of the heel. When I brought my attention there, in my own actual foot, I experienced a jolt of switching from external attention to internal attention.

The practices I teach in my classes mostly involve closed eyes, so it’s not a problem, but worth mentioning to students.

mulling things over, nuts and bolts

Getting motivated, plus email

In class yesterday we talked about home practice, and how hard it is to make yourself do it.  It is hard, and it’s good if we help each other.  Kim touted my blog, thank you, Kim!

A couple of people asked if there was any kind of email reminder that would make them do yoga.  I couldn’t think of exactly that, but it motivated me to add an email subscription link (see it there?  over at the top right?) for people who don’t use a blog reader.

(And why don’t you use a reader?  It’s so handy.  Criminy!  I’ve put the instructions right up in the tab at the top called “How to read blogs”.  Come onnnn!  Be brave!  Just try it!)

Jim talked about the benefits he gets from home practice – moving better the whole rest of the day, feeling good even when you’re old and creaky.  I agree.

I started this blog when I signed up for WoYoPracMo.  That’s World Yoga Practice Month, which was last January.  In WoYoPracMo, you commit to practicing yoga every day for a month.  There’s no penalty for not doing it, and nobody will know if you don’t, but it’s an excellent internal motivator.

Now WoYoPracMo is every month, which for me removes some urgency.  I’d rather know there’s an end point, and then keep going on my own, I guess.

I wonder if we should have a local YoPracMo.  KanYoPracMo?

mulling things over, poses

Practice decisions

It occurred to me yesterday that because I have been taking classes and reading books for a long time,  I know a lot of yoga poses and ways to sequence them.  As a result, I sometimes feel I have done nothing at all in a given practice, because there’s always so much more I could do.  It’s helpful to realize that.  Now maybe I can forgive myself for not doing everything.

Also, in a home practice, you can doodle around with a pose, trying different things, propping in different ways, etc.  In class, if I fall over in Ardha Chandrasana, I don’t get a do-over.  At home, I can do it again, maybe working against the wall or leaning on the banister, until I’ve gotten some benefit from it.

In class last fall, my teacher had us do Parvritta Trikonasana (revolved triangle) lying down, with our feet against the wall.  I have enough trouble with the twist and the bending over. and this let me work on those without also falling over.  In the New Year’s Day class, my foot was still not good enough to do the standing version, so I tried the lying down one.  But I didn’t get anywhere, because it’s a little confusing, and I didn’t have time before the next asana came along.  At home, I can work out how to do it without the pressure of whatever the rest of the class is doing next.