Home Practice: Starting On The Mat

I roll out my mat. It stares at me. A big purple rubber rectangle. Hand and footprints burned in after a dozen years of use.

Still I’m clueless as to what shape to take.

Something simple. Maybe a child’s pose. Big toes together, knees apart, arms outstretched. Easy enough.

How’s my breath? Labored? Is one nostril clogged? Is my left lung taking in as much as my right? I start to notice how my body is actually feeling in this very moment.

Next. A habitual downward facing dog to lengthen my spine. Ah, that feels good.

Perhaps a lunge, with my back knee down or an upward facing dog. If I am feeling vigorous, I jump back and forth, I’m still trying to get into a conversation with my body, feel what it wants to do

Am I still tired? Just back to child’s pose. Take it easy, I am not twenty two anymore.

Then usually a long Uttanasana, followed by Ardha Uttanasana.

My practice begins to build, my cranky mind has stopped complaining and is interested in what the body suggests to do next.

I begin to get a sense of my bones, muscles, joints.

I let myself think briefly: what am I going to teach today? Standing poses? Take Trikonasna.

How’s my balance this very moment? I try Ardha Chandrasana and realize that today I am still. Yesterday I was anxious and fidgety and fell out before I was in.

What muscles am I using? I stop a moment and look up a pose in Yoga Anatomy. No hurry here. This is not a dash to an imaginary finish line.

How would I sequence this, I wonder. What complicated pose can be broken up into bite sized pieces? I I check out Geeta Iyengar’s Primary Course, which is so helpful with sequencing.

What did I practice in class yesterday? Bharavajasana, Janu Sirsasana, Pashimottonasana. I do them myself

Before I know it a ½ hour or 45 minutes have gone by. And my hips are open enough to sit in meditation.

My self practice is born through my sense of enquiry, curiosity and listening intensely to my own body that particular day.

After all, if I’m not interested, why should anyone else be?
Brette Popper is Publisher and Founder of YogaCity NYC. This is the second part of a series on Self Practice. The first can be read here. She will be teaching a workshop on Building a Home Practice on September 29 at Yoga Union from 6-9PM. All are welcome to attend.



  1. […] is the third in a series of four blogs on self practice. The first can be seen here and the second here. She will be teaching a workshop on Building a Home Practice on September 29 at Yoga Union from […]

  2. […] is the fourth in a series of four blogs on self practice. The first can be seen here, the second here, and the third […]

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