3 Questions to Guide Your Home Practice

You’ve created a home yoga space, complete with candles, your yoga mat and props. You’ve even committed to a regular time each day to practice. But then you sit on your mat and wonder, “Now what? How do I start?”

Ideally, your practice should vary from day to day in response to your physical needs, mood and energy level. Asking yourself the following three questions at the beginning of your practice will guide you in choosing the best practices to match the needs of your body, mind and spirit.

Question #1: How Am I Today? 

Start by checking in with yourself. What is your energy level? How does your body feel? What is your state of mind? Knowing how you are feeling and what you need from your practice will guide you in choosing the most appropriate poses and breath practices.

For example, if you wake up tired because your back was aching all night, then you might choose to lay on the floor and do poses that bring some mobility to your spine. Similarly, if you find yourself depleted after work, lying down with your legs propped up in Legs Up the Wall (Vipariti Karani) can help you find that second wind to get through your evening.


Question #2: Where and When Am I? 

Once you’ve tuned into yourself, next tune into the world around you. To counteract the chill of cold winter days, you might choose invigorating poses like Warrior I (Virabhdrasana I) or Plank Pose (Kumbhakasana) to bring warmth and energy. You could also opt to do 5-8 rounds of Kapalabhati breathing (Skull-shining Breath) to generate more heat and warmth in your body.


By contrast, when the dog-days of summer arrive, lean toward soothing, cooling practices. Poses such as Standing Wide Leg Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottanasana) or Reclined Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana) can bring much needed relief on hot, humid days. Too hot to practice? Try Cooling Breath (Sitali pranayama) or indulge in a 20-minute Yoga Nidra practice.


Like the time of year, also consider the time of day. Early mornings before sunrise lend themselves to a quiet, introspective practice. Starting slowly, by focusing on joint rotations, will wake up your body and mind. Once warmed up, you can engage larger muscles. One way to do this is to do two or three seated poses, followed by one or two kneeling poses and gradually move towards active standing flows, like Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar).

Question #3: What Needs Balancing? 

The answer to the first question, “How am I today?” provides insight into this third one. The purpose of yoga is to bring peace and harmony to our bodies and minds. Noticing what is out of balance, whether there is too much or too little of quality present, is an important guiding question.

For instance, if you feel heavy and tired, you might favor poses that bring more lightness into body. Reaching your arms and gaze up in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) can lift your spirits to provide a greater sense of equilibrium.

Conversely, if your mind is distracted or racing, grounding your awareness through seated or reclining poses, such as Bound Angle (Baddha Konasana) or Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana), can bring stability to body and mind. 



*Watch this video to learn a calming, balancing breath technique.

The question of what to do once you are on your mat can be tricky. Using these three questions to guide your choices will assist you in tailoring your daily practice to bring harmony to body, mind and spirit. You won’t necessarily get it right every time, but with repetition you’ll become more skilled at selecting the best practices for you.

Happy practicing!



updated 6/11/24

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