Confessions of a Yoga Class Slacker: How to Create a Home Yoga Practice

 Pregnancy Guide

A Home Yoga Practice for Moms and Moms-to-Be

I’m kinda embarrassed to admit it, but here it is: I haven’t been to yoga class in over a year.

And I’ll confess this too:  I’m actually a bit proud of this fact.

You see, it took me about a year from my first yoga class, Seattle in 1996, to do even one Downdog at home.

I’d leave class feeling SO tall, so light, go home to my apartment, light up a cigarette and wonder where that yoga feeling had gone. Then I’d forget all about it, until next week’s class.

I Fall in Love with Yoga

Cut to five years later, 2002.  I’m a teacher.  I love yoga.  I’ve studied cadavers and spinal cord injuries and I’m applying yoga to people’s pains in grad school, watching the astounding effects (and yes, I quit smoking by switching out cigarettes for organic peaches, but that’s another story).

At this point, I was still not doing much at home, but some forward bends and other things that feel good.  I was going to 4 classes a week and I felt better than I’d ever felt in my life.

I Become a Mom

When I had my baby, I felt lost without my yoga classes.  After 6 weeks, I’d leave once a day to teach a private yoga session (which would just about pay for the nanny a few hours a day).  That was all I could manage, and I was excited to see my baby again, so it worked for us.

But I longed to get to class. My body didn’t feel good, no matter how much walking we did.  There weren’t any mommy and me classes near enough to get to.

When my daughter was about 6 months, I finally got to yoga class.  I was so happy to see everyone.  And you know what?  After that, I spent the entire time longing to be home with her. I was distracted.  I skipped savasana and left.

Finally, I understood: it was time to create a home yoga practice for myself.  To become my own teacher.  My kula – or heart-filled community – had changed.  My peeps were now mamas, and I wanted to be with them more and more.  I wanted playdates in the park and mommy and me movies, and with teaching privates and going back to school to complete my Masters, time was too limited to fit yoga classes in.  But my body, my soul wanted the feeling of yoga. I had to learn how to find it by myself.

I Create a Home Yoga Practice

SO, for the first time since having started yoga 8 years before, I started a REAL home yoga practice.

A home yoga practice that maintains my strength and my alignment; that challenges me; that leaves me feeling ready for my day.

Now, although I recognize that I do need a teacher to see the misalignments I can’t see for myself, and I plan to get back to class soon, I love my

leladoghome yoga practice.  I love that my kindergartner knows how to do a sun salute and knows that’s how we start the day.  I love that I can do for myself what once only someone else could do for me.  I love that I can keep myself out of pain with a daily practice plus hiking or elliptical 3 times a week (no, yoga alone is not enough to keep us strong and healthy!).

I Try To Help You Start Your Own Home Yoga Practice

Here’s how to start.  Always move in a way that feels good, and remember to move with your breath, in and out through the nose.

BASIC HOME YOGA PRACTICE

Remember basic principles you learned in class:

Move with your breath, in and out through the nose

Hug/engage/fire up your muscles

Draw into your center, from feet to core

Make exhales twice as long as inhales

To start a home yoga practice, pick one or two poses you remember from class and do them EVERY MORNING, such as Cat/Cow and Downward Dog.  Trust that once you start this, your desire will empower you to keep adding more, but you want to start something you’ll do EVERY DAY. It should feel good. They don’t even have to be “real” poses. Move in a way that feels good to your body. Practice listening in and discovering your own poses.

NEXT STEP IN YOUR HOME YOGA PRACTICE

If you want more, do 5 vinyasas, or flows.  Get the blood/prana/energy flowing.  You might even experience this as letting go of your resistance to the flow of well-being. It feels great.

Below are some suggestions for a home practice if you have been taught optimal alignment for these poses in class.  Always check with your healthcare provider before starting any exercise program.  If anything doesn’t feel good to you, don’t do it.  Feel free to leave comments below or set up a One-on-One with your teacher if you have questions.

Here is a nice vinyasa, or flow, for moms-to-be:

Down Dog – start with bent knees, use legs to lift butt high and stretch spine. Then, extend heels toward earth.  Keep lifting arms away from floor to strengthen shoulders.

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Chatturanga  – Inhale come forward, Exhale knees to floor and lower shoulders to elbow height. Keep shoulders and head lifted.

 

 

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Backbend – Push back to sitting on heels (you can untuck toes) and bend elvows behind.  You.  Lift heart and draw shoulders back.

 

 

03-backbend-lift-hips

 

 

If you feel comfortable, you can root down through your knees and lift your hips.  Ahhhhh!

 

 

 

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Childs Pose.  Keep big toes together and actively root hips so your middle back stays full, not collapsed.  When you’re ready, go back to Down dog and start again.  Wait til breath is smooth and easy.

 

 

Once you’re a mom and you’ve gotten the OK to exercise from your health care provider, you can return to the regular vinyasa.

If this doesn’t look familiar to you, please return to your Basic Yoga Practice or set up a One-on-One with your teacher to go over alignment.  It’s meant to be a reminder of what you learned in class.

 

ADVANCED HOME YOGA PRACTICE

If you have been doing yoga for years and you’re familiar with poses and optimal alignment, it’s time to empower yourself Mama!  Here is a list of the pose categories in a nice order.  If you have extra time, you can do a bunch of poses in each category.  If you’re in a rush, just do one of each.

Warm ups – 6 vinyasas (see above)

Lunges – add a twist, and a hip opener, thigh stretch if you like

Standing poses – side angle, warrior II, triangle

Backbend/abdominals – 3 rounds of each

Optional Inversion – handstand/forearm bal

Forward bends – janu sirsasana, firelog, seated twist

Meditate or savasana

If the practice you choose doesn’t feel super clear to you, PLEASE DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME.  You can overstretch your joints, increase your misalignments, and miss out on the gift that your home practice can be without a guide to help you.

Instead, we’ve made it SUPER easy for you to sign up for a One-on-One Workshop with your teacher (if you’re long distance you can do this on Skype).  In your One-on-One, you will receive a custom home practice designed for you, to keep you anchored in sanity throughout the journey to motherhood and beyond!

Your practice can be 5-minutes or 30-minutes; it can address particular aches and pains or even emotional challenges; it can help you be the mom you want to be.

It will allow you to feel tall, light, and grounded, anytime, all by yourself. So you can connect to your own inner guru, and be a wise, loving powerful being, or a Divine Ma.

Do you have questions about creating a home yoga practice?  Have certain discomforts you want to address?

Leave a comment below and I’ll try and help.  If you can, come do yoga with your kula!!! And if you can’t – or you have different priorities now, as a mom running after a little speed racer – get some help from your teacher to create a home yoga practice you can do anytime.

I Wrap Up So I Can Go Practice

BTW, I do miss class, and just last night I was talking to a yoga teacher friend about maybe joining her at class.  And now that my daughter’s settling into school, I am getting close to being able to fit a weekly class in again.

But I’d never give up what I got from my home practice.  What I learned from not being able to go to class, and finally having a steady home practice, is it’s the yoga that connects us all, not being in the same room.

By going inside, deep into the back of the body with the breath, we find ourselves held, embraced, and loved by the one flow of well-being that is connects us all, as it beats all of our hearts.

 

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Jessica Jennings
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Jessica Jennings

Jessica Jennings, MS, ERYT, RPYT, founded Ma Yoga® for Pregnancy, Motherhood & Beyond as a way to provide inspiration, guidance and support for mamas in their own neighborhoods. She loves helping people use their experience in the years around birth to create lives that reflect their own authentic feminine power and wisdom. If you are a mom, pregnant woman, yoga teacher or birth or mom expert - or you want to be - come join our online community by clicking below.
Jessica Jennings
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About the Author

Jessica Jennings

Jessica Jennings, MS, ERYT, RPYT, founded Ma Yoga® for Pregnancy, Motherhood & Beyond as a way to provide inspiration, guidance and support for mamas in their own neighborhoods. She loves helping people use the experience in the years around birth to create lives that reflect their own authentic feminine power and wisdom. If you are a mom, pregnant woman, yoga teacher or birth or mom expert - or you want to be - come join our online community by clicking below.