Developing a Home Yoga Practice

Developing a Home Yoga Practice

I first started my yoga home practice when I was doing my first Yoga Teacher Training in 2005. I had picked up an old copy of ‘The Concise Light on Yoga’ by BKS Iyengar from a secondhand shop, it was falling apart a bit with pages loose! I still have it on my bookshelf. In the back Iyengar gives some progressive yoga plans to do at home. I would lay out my yoga mat in my living area with my Iyengar book and flip back and forth to see what each pose was as I was still learning the Sanskrit names. I felt a special energy in practising by myself, I was able to tune into how I was feeling in each pose.

Since that time I have maintained a morning home practice. I follow a sequence I made for myself and interchange poses in the same category each day. I start with warm ups and Sun Salutes and conclude with an inversion followed by pranayama and Shavasana. I include some poses that give me a challenge to increase my strength, flexibility and/or balance.

A balanced home practice will include some warm ups, a forward bend, backward bend, lateral stretch, spinal twist and an inversion. This allows the spine to move in each direction and provides a counter pose for each position.

When we are in the silence of our own space or room we can be more aware of the sensations in our body and follow our intuition to guide us to what movement our body needs. Attending regular classes with a teacher is also important to get corrections in poses that we may not realise that we need. Being comfortable and confident to do our own practice means that we can roll out our mat anytime, wherever we are and keep up our yoga.

My original guide to home practice

Guidelines for doing yoga at home:

  • practice on an empty stomach preferably in the morning
  • do sufficient warm ups such as joint rotations or cat pose to prevent injury
  • choose a space where you won’t be disturbed and put your phone on silent
  • if possible use the same space every day as it helps to build up the energy there
  • create a balanced practice as mentioned above
  • be regular in your practice, either every day or the same days each week. It is advisable to have one day off a week
  • be flexible in your approach so that you allow yourself a gentle practice if you are tired or injured
  • For women who are menstruating take some rest days, towards the end of menstruation you can focus on forward bending asanas

I hope you have found this useful to inspire your home practice. If you have any comments please post below.

Trataka Meditation

Trataka Meditation

Trataka is a meditation technique where we choose an object as a tool for developing concentration (Dharana). Literally Trataka means to gaze steadily. It is also considered a Hatha Yoga cleansing practice as it has a purifying affect on the eyes. It is common to use a candle flame as the object to gaze at, especially for beginners, as it leaves an after impression in the space behind the closed eyes (Chidakasha).

The benefits of Trataka are:

  • relieves nervous disorders, anxieties
  • it is beneficial for shortsightedness or poor vision by strengthening the eye muscles if practiced daily
  • develops concentration and memory
  • leads into meditative states of mind
  • expands consciousness
  • relieves insomnia if practiced for 10-15 mins before bedtime


How to Practice:

Trataka involves both external gazing and internal gazing. To practice an object, such as a candle, is placed at eye level about an arms length away from you. Make sure there are no drafts in the room so that the candle will be steady. Gaze at the base of the flame while trying avoid blinking or moving the eyes. Start by gazing for 1 to 2 minutes only. Then close the eyes and concentrate on the after image of the flame in front of the closed eyes. The image may move, attempt to hold it steady. When the image has completely vanished open the eyes and gaze at the candle flame once more. Continue like this for 3-4 rounds.

The eyes may water which is natural and ok. When tears have formed you may close your eyes until the tears have dried.

On completion you may practice palming by rubbing the palms together until you have generated some heat and then cupping them over the closed eyes. Perform three rounds like this.

While practicing Trataka the brain has an opportunity to rest. By holding the object of concentration the mind is encouraged to become calm and quiet while the attention of the mind is channeled into one particular stream.

You may also practice on an object such as a flower, statue, crystal, a black dot on a piece of paper, a yantra or mandala. It is not advised to use the following objects as it may be too powerful a practice and result in mental disturbances: your shadow, a mirror, the moon, darkness or a crystal ball.

Techniques such as Trataka will be explored in my Thursday night Yoga Nidra and Meditation classes via Zoom. You can find out more or register on Eventbrite.