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Starting a Home Yoga Practice

There can be many ways that you have come to yoga: classes, books, DVDs, etc. But however you got here you are going to eventually want to start a home yoga practice. Sounds easy enough but even as a Yoga Instructor of fifteen years I still find times when my mind goes blank. That’s when I always turn to my tried and true practices that I keep on hand.

When you are setting up a home yoga practice there are two basic areas of structure. The first is practicality and reasoning. Such as what are the guidelines where do I start? What poses do I do? The other area is the inner yoga. How does it make you feel, how can you get the most benefits, is this a good fit for you. Here are some tips I hope will make both areas easier for you.

Home Practice Structure

•Pick your spot. Find a place in your home with enough room to do the poses that is clean and quiet.
•Unplug, yes literally. Turn off the computer, phone, cell phone, TV, and anything else that may disturb you.
•Make it a habit. Really, pick a time of day that you will do your practice daily and make it a priority. Sometimes it won’t be possible but when it is you are more likely to stick with your practice. It’s up to you whether you want yoga as a regular part of your life and if you do it’s up to you to make it happen.
•Be prepared for the inner critic. The critic will tell you that you need to practice every day for 90 minutes and your overwhelmed even before you begin. Try for 5-20 minutes a day; do one or two poses; start with what you know, don’t place too many expectations on yourself. It’s better to do 10 minutes a day than to do 120 minutes just one day a week.
•In your own home you are free to practice however and whatever you feel. Write your own sequence and keep it simple. But be sure that you include beginning and ending rituals. These are not elaborate; try a few minutes of breathing before you start and Savasana at the end.
•It is good to have a plan, even if you don’t stick to it. Your back up is to have a few reasonable sequences on hand; have a DVD that you like; open a book with some comfortable poses. You just don’t want to waste your yoga time trying to come up with what to do.
•Choose poses you like, don’t chastise yourself if you’re not perfect, and if you really want to watch the morning news to get you started on your mat then just do it.

Inner Revelations from a Home Practice

•You may think that working on the same poses each day isn’t proper. You will come to the point when you are ready to change but for now start within your own limits. What you will discover is that over time your boundaries expand and the poses you have been practicing are more complete and gratifying.
•You will begin to listen to the voice within your head. Without a teacher to guide you becoming aware of how the pose feels and not just physically. Look to your practice to open your eyes to how your practice can be related to life. If you keep falling over in Headstand today you become frustrated. You’ll never be able to do the pose at this point. You must return to the beginning. Start with some soft breathing to relax and then try it again. More than likely you will be able to hold the pose. Relate this to life, such as being held up in traffic. It is what it is, so take this time to do some breathing practice.
•Practicing alone also makes you more present. You will become more in tune with your body and develop sequences that are challenging yet appropriate. As you move through the poses in harmony with your breath you are more attentive to each movement.
•Redefine yoga. That’s right taking a quiet walk can be yoga. Chopping vegetables can be yoga. I think you can see where I’m going with this. Anything you do and practice mindfulness can be your yoga.

As Mark Whitwell, an internationally known teacher from the “Heart of Yoga Association” tells us: “Doing yoga at home is profoundly different from doing it under the direction of someone else in class. When you’re doing someone else’s yoga, you’re not doing your own yoga. It’s a huge evolutionary step to learn how to practice for yourself.

Live well, practice yoga.


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