Yoga at Home: How to Avoid Distractions and Focus on Your Practice
So, you’ve decided the benefits of developing a home yoga practice are worth the endeavor. Amazing!
Now, that you’ve set up your practice space and you’ve gotten on your mat a couple of times, you’ve probably noticed one major thing... Wow, there are a lot of distractions here!
You are not alone. Many students and teachers tell me about their struggles with distractions while practicing from home. Some folks want to throw in the home-practice towel all together. The awesome thing is, there are ways to work both around and with this.
Today I’ll give you the tips I personally use and share with my students that help keep us interested and on the mat while practicing at home.
Have realistic expectations. Expect to be distracted.
More than likely, even when taking a group class at the yoga studio, there are times during class that you become distracted. So why would you not get distracted during your home practice?
The difference is, at home, we have the freedom to turn away from our mats and give in to the distractions—we don’t have a teacher there with us holding us accountable (usually).
When we approach our practice expecting that we might get distracted, we are better prepared to handle it.
Being realistic in our expectations is key.
Develop an intention journal.
Just as some people keep a small notebook by their bedside to record their dreams, you can have a journal especially dedicated to your home practice. Let an opening ritual for your practice be writing in your journal.
Recall and reflect on the reasons why this practice is important to you; why are you doing this?
Next, write down in words your devotion to yourself that even though you will get distracted from time to time during the practice, you will stay committed to your journey and stay on your mat.
No thought, no feeling, no distraction is permanent.
They all pass. What is always present however, so long as you are alive and thriving, is your breath. Stay devoted to coming back to your breath when distractions feel overpowering.
Find your unique natural rhythm: Experiment with what time of day is best for you to practice.
If it’s possible for you, try practicing at home in the morning, afternoon and evening on different days and see if you notice what time of day you are less distracted and more organically inclined to turn inward and be in your own body. And then, honor your body’s natural rhythm—if you find that sweet spot, that is the time you should practice!
Keep a to-do list.
I’ve definitely been here: I’m in the middle of transitioning between upward facing dog and downward facing dog and, wait…I thought I was in tune with my breath and connected to the sensations in my body….how did it come into my head that I’m supposed to send my accountant last months’ bank statements tonight?
“Thoughts,” “distractions,” “to-do’s,” whatever you choose to label them, will come. If they are truly important enough, you will remember them when you get off your mat.
Make a mental note to add the distraction to your to-do list after your practice, stay on your mat, and keep going.
Organize your life.
I’m talking about more than a to-do list now. Let’s say you practice in your living room because you realized that was the most open and calming area when setting up your home practice space. That pile of mail sitting on your coffee table? Yes, that’s going to be a distraction.
Either devote time to going through the pile of mail prior to practicing, or move it to another place in the home and commit to going through it at a later scheduled time.
Mental distractions are challenging enough to handle, but we can at least get rid of the visual distractions with more ease.
Yes lovelies, this includes audible distractions as well. We can take a twenty minute break from attending to our smartphones, yeah?
Make your practice space a sacred one. You wouldn’t bring a pile of bills with you to the yoga studio and plop them down next to your mat, right? So why allow that clutter into your zen-zone when practicing at home?
Earlier I spoke about letting go of your expectations when it comes to practicing at home. This is a true practice of non-attachment.
Just because studio classes are typically an hour doesn’t mean your home practice needs to be.
Ten minutes on your yoga mat is better than none at all. Conquering distractions for 10 minutes is more manageable than doing so for 45. Just like you wouldn’t begin a beginner’s yoga class with a handstand, give yourself some room to grow.
Ten minutes is totally adequate, but if your goal is to have a longer home practice, work your way up patiently to 20 minutes, then 30 and so on.
You learn so much about yourself when practicing at home. The first step is patience. Approach your body and your home yoga practice from a place of love and compassion, with less attachment to the outcomes you want and expect and be open to receiving many sweet surprises on your mat.
Nityda is a NYC-based yoga teacher and yoga therapist of ten years. She specializes in helping people develop a home yoga practice and teaching students one-on-one. Interested in training with Nityda? Set up a fun, commitment-free consultation with her over the phone here . To stay connected to her community classes, and workshops online and in-the-studio, click here. Practice with her on youtube here.