Committing to practicing yoga regularly can be difficult, and attending a yoga class may not always be possible.
Those who establish even a minimal home practice are quick to discover the rewards yoga has to offer. Practicing even just a few asanas (poses) at home on a regular basis, will reinforce what is taught in a yoga class, and best prepare you for class when you’re ready. Students who have a home practice find themselves not only becoming progressively more flexible and strong, but more resilient and calm in the face of life's inevitable ups and downs. As a practitioner of Ashtanga Yoga, I love the self-led class of a Mysore practice within a group environment. But, it is not possible for me to always attend a class, so here are 5 tips that have helped me in my at home yoga practice:
1. Set aside a minimum of 15 minutes every day, if you find this difficult to fit into your schedule, begin by making a commitment to do at least Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations) each day. Some days that may be all your time will allows don’t get discouraged, keep going! But on those days when more time is available, extend your time into a longer practice. Allowing yourself the time to do yoga is often a bigger challenge than the yoga itself!
2. Find a place in your home for your practice, and clear the space so you can easily put your mat down when the time arrives. Decide which direction you will face on your mat, and place a candle or make a small alter at the front. Depending on the amount of space you have, you may decide to keep this space sacred and make your dedication to yoga part of your permanent living space. For me, I have created a space uncluttered so that I can be easily convert it to a yoga space when I practice.
3. Note the times of day that are ideal for your home yoga practice. Maybe it’s first thing in the morning or maybe it’s after work. Whenever it is, try to commit to practicing at that time and make it a priority.
4. Wear loose, comfortable clothing –don’t worry if you don’t have that “picture-perfect” yoga outfit, perhaps you have a comfy pair of sweats or even your pajamas! Wear clothing that’s comfortable for you; you wouldn’t want tight body-hugging outfits coming in the way of doing some wide stretches!
5. Respect your body and do yoga poses gently with a smile. Doing them fast or going beyond what your body can take will not bring faster results. It will only make the practice more difficult and painful. Let go of perfection and fear of failure. The beauty of your home yoga practice is that you listen to your body and find the teacher within.
Remember, distractions happen. Dogs come and lay on your mat, your cat curls up on your lap when you meditate, the kids show up to watch, or your partner decides it is a good time to talk. This is the practice of yoga. It is learning to be present and receive the gifts of your life. It is letting go of expectations and goals, it’s returning to your breath and being mindful of your response to the distractions. This is yoga, this is life. Take a breath and start!
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