Some tips for your personal yoga practice
Students often comment that they would love to start practising yoga at home but are unsure where to start.
Perhaps you think you won’t know what to do without your teacher guiding you.
But you might be surprised! I really encourage you to delve into your own personal practice – it is an important step to take on this yogic pathway.. Why?
Well as great as it is to attend classes and be lead through a practice – there is so much to be gained by tuning in to your own inner teacher. Being able to use the healing practice of yoga on your own is a gift that you can always then access.
Here are my tips to get you started:
It is a good idea to invest in a mat – you can pick up an inexpensive one from the warehouse or K-Mart.
A blanket or two is a really useful prop to have on hand.
Once your practice becomes more established you may then decide to invest in a block, bolster, strap, yoga blankets…. But definitely not essential to start. K-mart is great for picking up yoga straps and blocks.
Holding a space for yourself
It is a really good idea to allocate a space in your house for your personal practice. You may have the luxury of a spare room, but a mat rolled out in a living room or bedroom can work just as well. When you make some time to practice, turn your phone to silent so you won't be disturbed. If you only have X amount of time to practice, setting an alarm on your phone to notify you when you have 5 or 10 minutes left can be a good idea.
How long to practice?
I often find that if I decide not to practice until I have an hour free, I might never get on the mat. However, even if you have just 10 minutes... this is definitely better than nothing. Often an intention to do 10 minutes , turns into a longer practice as you find your groove and want to keep going.
Perhaps your practice for one day might be 10 minutes of breath awareness. That is just wonderful.
Another day you might be inclined to bring in some movement and do 25 minutes. Great!
There might be days when you find your groove and do a full hour. YES!
If you have small children it can be hard to find a set time to practice... but perhaps for a while that fluidity and flexibility is your practice! I have definitely done a lot of improvising with kids coming and going and sometimes abandoning the yoga suddenly is going to happen.
When to practice?
Setting an alarm early and starting your day with a yoga practice is what most yogis recommend. I must admit I have rarely (since having children) been able to implement that into my morning routine.
Have a think about your day and energy levels and decide on a time that will work with your lifestyle. Initially the goal might be 2-3 x per week. If that is working out well then by all means increase the regularity.
What to do?
So once you are on the mat..... what might you do?
Start with a few minutes to just sit (or lie), allow body to settle, tune into the breath.
If and when you are ready to come into some movements, do what you remember from class.
Be intuitive, be playful, be curious.
Start with some warming / fluid movements (All 4’s is a great plane to start in – some hip circles, cat curls, easy downward dogs – pose of the child).
Let the breath guide you.. If the breath is restricted or held – ask yourself how could I change to allow the breath to be more free?
If you are practising surya namaska (sun salutations), again, do what you remember from class, if you don’t get the sequence exactly right, don’t worry!
Take several opportunities to just to sit (or stand, or lie) close the eyes check back in.
Be kind to yourself. Don’t try and get too fancy or complex… sometimes less is more.
It can be good to wind the practice down with any of the following: Seated Forward Bends (Calming), Twists (neutralising), Restorative Poses – e.g.: Legs up the wall.
Finish with savasana – If you usually like to have a bolster under the knees, use a rolled blanket under the knees.
Remember the practice should be joyful, fluid, – even luxurious.
If you are moving and breathing and enjoying the felt sense of the body, it is yoga.
Don’t get too hung up on ‘am I doing it right?’.
Let your inner teacher shine and so long as you listen and honour what is going on for you the practice will serve you.
Have fun with it.