Creating a home yoga practice is a key step in your yoga journey. Traditionally, the ancient yogis advocated an hour morning and evening asana practice plus extensive meditation practice. But considering most of us are balancing a family, career, and modern lifestyle, time is precious and often our days are already quite full. Of course, this is all the more reason to practice yoga and to give yourself permission to slow down. Self-care is essential in our fast-paced world and a yoga and meditation practice will help you not only to slow down, but to live in the NOW, making the most of those precious moments in time. That being said, no one expects you to live the life of a sadhu while also raising a family or pursuing a career.
When you get ready to create a home yoga practice, the most crucial first step is to be practical. If you set your standards too high, you'll set yourself up for disappointment and discouragement. Look at your existing schedule, noting opportunities for self-care or things that can be shifted to create that time. The two most recommended times for a self-care yoga practice are the pre-dawn hours and before bed. It's nice if you can do a little bit of something at both those times. So the question becomes, "What's that 'something'?"
If you are attending yoga classes at a studio, then your home practice may not require you to include a lot of asanas. Instead, you might focus more on breathing techniques or meditation, with one or two energizing postures in the morning and a couple of relaxing poses at night before bed. You can streamline it further by choosing a favorite pranayama and focusing on it, rather than trying to fit them all in, and then either setting a timer for a 5-10 minute meditation or using a mala to achieve 108 repetitions of your chosen mantra. Suddenly, you have a quick 15-20 minute practice you can find time for morning and evening. Wake up a little bit early to fit it in. Compensate by being in bed by 10pm every night. (10pm-2am is the most crucial time for sleep. This is when the brain is draining itself of toxins and when the body (physically, emotionally, and mentally) is "digesting" the day. If you don't get sleep during this time, then these toxins - both physical and mental - stay in the body. And if you regularly don't get sleep during this time, then the problem only compounds each day.) If, however, you don't attend a yoga class, I highly recommend you lengthen your asana practice. You can either have a set routine each day or just go with whatever feels good to you. Try to fit in at least 5 postures both morning and evening.
This routine may not sound like much, but believe me, if you commit to practicing this everyday you WILL see results. It's a jumping off point, a place to get started. You may find once you start, you crave more, and the practice naturally lengths, without any forcing or effort on your part. Or this may be your practice for years, a routine that you can stick to no matter what life throws your way. Either way, you will reap the benefits.
Now what is the most important element to maintaining a home practice? Don't skip a day. Ever. Just don't do it. It's a slippery slope that we've all slid down. "One day will be ok." Then a few weeks later its a couple of days, then it's a week, then you've completely lost the habit. Even if you're sick, on vacation, or some other unexpected emergency comes up, each morning and evening take those 5 minutes - five minutes - to stop and just be. Prop yourself up in bed if you need to. Just do it. You will thank yourself later. I promise.
Note: It is not recommended to perform asanas or pranayama if you are sick or menstruating. And there are some asanas and pranayama that should not be performed during pregnancy. However, there are absolutely NO contraindications for meditation!