Once we catch the "Yoga Buzz" that calm beingness we experience after taking a yoga class we may have the desire to experience it on a regular basis and perhaps to incorporate it into our daily lives. Yet, with long work days, family and social obligations, fatigue and not to mention the cost, getting to a yoga class on a regular basis can be as daunting as mastering a headstand! Wouldn't it be great if we could just roll out our mats and practice at home? Yes, it would! But where do we begin and how do we overcome the obstacles and challenges of creating and sustaining a home practice?
Before starting a home practice I recommend taking classes and learning the basics under the guidance of an experienced teacher. Yoga classes are motivating and give you the experience of community. Also, your instructor can give you hands-on corrections when you are doing something wrong. These classes will provide the knowledge and tools you will need to create and build a home practice.
One of the greatest challenges for beginners as well as more experienced yoga students is overcoming excuses not to practice and maintaining a home practice.
Beginners have trouble remembering the poses and more experienced students often do not know how to sequence a class. Many yogis choose to follow DVD's or CD's, which are great, but can become monotonous over time.
As of late, many home practitioners are taking classes on-line, which provide more diversity at a fraction of the cost of going to a class. There are many options available to you, once you choose to practice yoga at home but the greatest obstacle you will need to overcome is simply .... Getting On The Mat!
Once you commit yourself to a home practice set aside a specific time during the day. Schedule it in like you would any other appointment. More rigorous practices should be done in the morning so they don't keep you up at night and more restorative classes in the evening. Make sure you have a yoga mat, comfortable clothing, bare feet and a spacious, tranquil environment to practice. Perhaps you can even set up a mini alter with candles, incense, flowers and whatever other items are sacred to you (including photos of a teacher or people and animals you love). Make sure your phones are turned off and that you will not be disturbed!
If you decide to practice on your own here are a few sequencing guidelines for you to follow:
A Well- Rounded Practice:
• Start slow and begin by mastering the basics.
• Keep your practice simple and begin with 20-30 minutes.
• Sit tall on a pillow or cushion and bring all your attention to your breath. Close your eyes and breath deeply a few times. You can begin with three Oms or hums (Bramari) and then a breathing practice of your choice such as Kappalibhati which is energizing (practice in the morning) or alternate nostril breathing (Nadi Shodhana)
• Warm up. It is very important to start with a warm up such as cat-cow, child pose (Balasana) and then a few sun salutations. The sun salutations are strong and warming. They will invigorate you and give you energy to continue.
• Be playful and creative. Perhaps play your favorite music. It can even be something up-tempo to get you going.
• After sun salutations start with standing poses such as Warrior 1 and 2, Triangle Pose, Tree Pose, Supported Side Angle, Parsvottanasana and any other standing poses that you are comfortable with.
• This is a nice time to play with arm balances that you are comfortable practicing on your own such as crow pose (Bakasana) or Vasisthasana (you can modify)
• Then you can practice inversions. A safe inversion such as Vipariti Karani is a nice choice. Lying on the floor extend your legs up the wall. This is a restorative shoulder stand, which calms the nervous system and is excellent for stress and insomnia. Your bum should be close to the wall, arms by your sides, palms up. You can also place a pillow or blanket under your hips. If you have an advanced practice you can choose a shoulder stand, headstand, forearm stand etc...
• Always breath. Notice when you are holding your breath. Never force yourself into a pose. Asanas should be steady and comfortable. If you use your breath, your body with open naturally.
• Continue your practice with gentle back bending. Focusing on warming the back up slowly with Baby Cobra, Locust Pose (Shalabasana), Upward Facing Dog and then perhaps half wheel. If you have a more advanced practice you can then incorporate other back bends such as Camel Pose, Bow or Full Wheel.
• Gentle twists on the floor, lying on your back, are really nice after back bending. I would recommend this before segueing into deep forward bends.
• You can then move on to some yummy twists such as half spinal twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
• After twisting you can choose a hip opener such as fire log pose or one-legged king pigeon pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana) Place a pillow or block under your hips if you need to.
• Finish with seated forward bends, which prepares the body for meditation by bringing our focus inward. Head to knee pose (Janu Sirsasana), seated forward bend (Pashimotanasana) and Baddha Konasana are a few of my favorites.
• If your practice is shorter you can choose which days to practice an arm balance or hip opener.
• Always end your practice with Savasana (meditation) for a minimum of five minutes. We practice physical yoga (Hatha) to relax, strengthen and detoxify our bodies preparing us for a deep meditation. Allow yourself this time to seep in the benefits of your practice! You can meditate by simply watching your breath, acknowledge your thoughts and then gently guide your attention back to your breath.
Good luck with your home practice! Feel free to write me with any questions you may have.
Published On: April 23, 2010