Home practice

Back bending

Kapotasana, June 2021

Kapotasana, June 2021

I do so many additional exercises that I forget sometimes the pose for which I’m doing all the stretching. Every back bending asana is a bit different. They have also much in common. They stretch the hip flexor. The shoulders get stretched. The entire body shall lengthened. This can be done with the breath and the muscles. It’s important to create room. The bow shall not be compressed, but wide and relaxed.

It’s better to bow backwards correctly than to force the body to reach the feet with the hands. Good to know the goal, but during the practice I aim for a correct movement. This helps to prevent injuries as well.

To get out of an asana is another challenge. Strong legs are required, strong bandhas, too.

Stretching can be done more than once a day. It’s even supportive to add additional training. Not always I’ve the energy to add another yoga or stretching session, but sometimes. It can make a difference.

To practice once a day is absolutely perfect.

This morning I woke up at 5 am. I also got up and enjoyed the early morning hour. Early I was on my mat. I remembered the two years in my life when I started my practice every day at 6 am. This felt wonderful. I want to get back to an early practice. This would give me a lot of time for other necessary activities. This would mean less stress.

We all have to manage our time. It seems to slip through the fingers. If one wants to achieve anything it’s good advice to monitor where the time goes. There are many distractions these days.

I was so joyful that I was so early on the mat. I hit a wall today. I felt stiff, weak. I tried to find out my boundaries for today. I breathed deeply. It’s nonsense to project the past into the future. Yesterday was good, today I practiced slowly and modest. I’m curious how I’ll feel tomorrow.

Keep practicing. This is what counts more than the performance.

Get to know yourself


A few days back I got a letter from a friend. In my opinion she is a very committed and disciplined person. She accomplishes a lot. I had sent her a picture of myself doing a back bending asana. (Hahaha) She wrote that she misses her yoga classes. It seems impossible for her to practice alone at home.

One can give tips, but finally someone must find out by herself what makes it possible to do anything.

The reason why we do anything goes from ‘I have to’ (tax declaration) till ‘I desire to’ (yoga practice). One must find out how we can motivate ourselves.

The very first question is: Is an activity possible theoretically. Not everything is possible, but if the answer is yes, one can ask the second question: How is it possible.

Many yogini have shared tips and tricks already. They can be all useful. There is this individual part that one has to find out by oneself.

My general tips:

  1. Go to bed early and get up early. The early morning is best to practice. Know the time when you want to roll out the yoga mat.

  2. Even more important is to start the practice very slowly. I usually hang forward (see picture). I do nothing else but this. After a while I get bored and I start with the sun salutations. In the Sivananda classes the yogini started with lying on their back to relax first. It’s possible to give oneself a feet massage. One can chant ‘Ohhhmmmmm’. Be creative. Find something that is easy to do. This is then your beginning.

  3. Limit the time. Set a timer at first for 15 minutes. Then go for 30 minutes. In the meantime I need 2 hours to do everything I want to do.

  4. Starting the timer is a trigger for me. When the timer starts running the point of no return has come.

  5. Know what you want to do. This is also one reason why I love Ashtanga Yoga. I practice one of the series. I don’t have to be a choreograph in the morning. People who go to vinyasa classes or to Jivamukti classes don’t learn fixed series. Every class is different. One week they focus on back bending, the other week on twists. This makes it difficult to practice at home. Have a plan, have a fixed series. From there you can alter your practice.

  6. I love the CDs by the Jivamukti founders. It’s possible to practice along with a CD. Everything is allowed that helps.

  7. Take it easy. Start slowly. Start with a short practice of 20 minutes. Get used to the new habit.

  8. Appreciate your practice.


  1. Thoughts: Today I’m tired, I can also practice after a tiny breakfast. After breakfast other tasks are more important. After lunch the stomach is too full. Then I’m tired again. Then it’s evening. And so on.

  2. Don’t discuss every day if you want to practice or not.

  3. The imagination that from now on I’ll practice till the end of my life is too huge. Think of today. Today is a good day to practice.

In my very first yoga class the teacher recommended to start a home practice right after the first yoga class. Right from the beginning on one can start the own yoga journey.

Being independent from circumstances gives freedom.

What motivates to practice at home?


The practice this morning was so good, I cannot remember anymore of such a strong, focused and flexible practice. It’ worth to put in the daily effort. I felt so strong today. I did much more vinyasa than planned, because it was possible. Even urdhva dhanurasana was possible after all these forward bending asanas.

Nothing motivates more than a great practice.

Kino MacGregor wrote a blog post on home practice and what helped her to practice alone for more than 2 decades.

I’d like to add a few points that help me:

  1. Setting a timer. With the timer I take away the pressure of accomplishing anything. To be on the mat for 90 minutes is enough is the intention. I never was in baby pose for 90 minutes, even though this would have been OK.

  2. Taking pictures interrupts my practice, but it also motivates me. It’s something visible that I create. I see a result of my effort. I create a proof for myself, that work has been done.

  3. Feeling part of a community is supportive. Sometimes I go through my Instagram account before practicing. It inspires me to see all these committed yogini.

  4. I instruct my subconsciousness. When I go to bed I tell myself what I’ll do tomorrow morning. No thinking is necessary anymore the next morning. I have a fixed routine.

  5. Lately I found out that the mantra ‘I can’ helps me a lot. Sometimes a practice seems so undoable, so exhausting. When I tell myself that ‘I can’, I usually can do it.

What’s your trick to practice at home?

Home practice


Yogis who practice at home usually need a certain amount of discipline to practice every day. Otherwise no practice would happen.

In addition it’s useful to have tools at hand that help to adjust oneself in order to avoid mistakes that might finally cause injuries. A correct execution of an asana has the best effect on the body. To take pictures and videos help a lot. Nothing improved my asanas more than seeing myself in a posture. No teacher can tell a student everything repeatedly. One must learn to correct oneself.

One can learn a lot from different yoga styles here. The Iyengar students take care of correct alignment. They use props that help. A couple of years ago I bought a yoga chair and a book on chair yoga that is used by Iyengar students. Today I experimented a bit. For some asanas the chair might be too high for me. Perhaps I need blocks in addition. I realized already that a chair can be very useful. I’ll go through the exercises one at a time.

This morning my yoga week started with second series. Focus was back bending. It was a struggle. I still lack a lot of strength.

No matter how difficult my practice seems to be, I’m able to concentrate on my practice for 90 minutes. I practice one asana after the other. I scarcely need breaks. When I take a short break I rest in baby pose, but I stay on the mat and I focus on the breath. This was not always so.

Students went to a yoga teacher in India in order to learn how to concentrate. They realized that they needed to concentrate when they wanted to pass exams. Concentration is a skill that one can learn via yoga.

My home practice has a clear beginning and a clear end. Within a given time frame I focus on my yoga practice. The practice starts when my timer keeps running. It’s finished when the mat stands in the corner and when I’m showered. This shower belongs to the practice. Then I’m ready for the day. I let go of judging what was. The joy that I had practice is dominating the discomfort that I might have felt during a stiff practice. I’m looking forward to the next practice with curiosity very soon.

Yesterday I bought a couple of magazines. One is called ‘Women’s health’. I read that if someone isn’t working on strength for one week she will lose 10% of her strength. For older people this might be even worse. The tip: Keep practicing.

Active relaxing


Today I slept a bit longer, I guess it was a bit before 7 am when I left the cosy bed. I had to get some vegetables. So I tried to be rather early at the grocery store in order not to meet too many people. More and more people wear masks here due to the corona virus even though it shall not be effective. It has rather psychological reason, I guess. It reminds everybody to keep distance to other people.

I’m not alone, but for me it’s easy to be alone at home. We shall still live in quarantine. Those who love books don’t feel so alone so quickly. Everybody has Internet connection these days. Yoga is time-consuming. I cook every day. The restaurants are still closed everywhere. Many deliver food. I take the opportunity and cook for lunch. Being a good chef is a great skill. Today we had CousCous. My meals are often culinary trips to different countries, even those I’ve not yet seen. Yesterday I cooked something Chinese inspired with eggplants and tofu. Today our meal was inspired by Arabic countries. For tomorrow I planned a Thai curry.

The above picture I took for the April challenge on Instagram curated by Carmen. I loved this imperfect picture better than the pose itself. It looks as if I fall out of the asana. The blurriness of the arm shows movement, dynamic.

It’s more likely that I get up before sunrise, when I get to bed early. Not every day one must see a movie on TV. My yoga mats are next to my desk, where I practice these days. My yoga practice is important, I want to be well-rested.

Lately someone of a Facebook group for Ashtanga home practitioners asked how we manage it to practice every day. This is sometimes easy and sometimes difficult. There are general tips, like practicing every day at the same time i.e.. What motivates someone is also rather personal. One must get to know oneself. I know that I like to take pictures. They motivate me to practice. It’s also inspiring to see all the yoginis on Instagram. Others can practice daily, so it seems to be doable for me, too. I know that I feel so much better after every yoga practice. I also know that often only the beginning is difficult.

Life needn’t aggravate when getting older, but one must do something for this. Muscles need training. In order to stay flexible one must stretch. It’s good to train the mind as well. Then one might have a chance to enjoy life for a very long time, because one is able to be active and independent from the support of others. My yoga practice helps me to achieve this. This is my conviction. I’m ready and I’m looking forward to tomorrow morning, when I’ll stand in front of the mat, ready for the first sun salutation.

Stay healthy. Breathe deeply. Enjoy what is. It’s much.

Dust clouds everywhere.


Dust clouds everywhere here. Who cares. I practiced Ashtanga yoga in the morning. My priorities shifted from doing chores to practicing yoga. It makes more sense for me. Even though both activities have something in common. If I don’t give any of these activities attention it gets worse and worse. The flat doesn’t clean itself. When I don’t practice yoga I become stiffer and weaker, every day a tiny bit.

I start with myself, the surroundings comes next.

I cooked. Today I prepared a risotto with broccoli, green peas and asparagus. In addition we had a green side salad. We feel well nourished.

The sun is shining. Of course we stay at home. Corona times force us, but it’s very doable.

Practice report:

This morning I focused on back bending again. Every day almost all back bending asanas feel a bit easier. I’m able to relax and to breathe.

I found a very good Timer App. I’ll write about it tomorrow. I was looking for such an App for a very long time. It’s so useful.

I practice late


I practice yoga rather late these days. That is I often start at 5 pm or even later. Time runs through my fingers during the day. At least I’ve the feeling that things get done here. Fall has come and I go through all my clothes and discard those that are worn out, or those that I don’t wear anymore. Summer shoes are used up, I walk a lot. Old bags that slept for years in my wardrobe had to go, too. The task is completed, when the stuff is out of the house. I donate most things.

My yoga practice always reminds me to keep everything simple. If there is too much distraction it’s very likely that the practice gets neglected. With distraction I also mean that one can put too many tasks in a day.

Tomorrow is All Saints. It’s a day off here. In the meantime some dear friends have left us forever. When I think of them I’m happy for every day I’m allowed to live. Hectic days or relaxed days or lame days I welcome them all. I still enjoy the gift to be alive.

Sometimes I’m ambitious on the mat, sometimes relaxed. I always exercise the splits. Sometimes I can stand a lot of stretching discomfort, sometimes I give in very quickly. That I can practice again with almost zero back pain is a miracle for me.

My yoga practices run like a golden thread through my life. They are a wonderful guide. They always center me.