Developing a home yoga practice.
While it’s wonderful to practice yoga regularly under the guidance of a teacher, the real benefits in mind, body and to properly tune into how a pose actually feels on in your body, only comes with a home practice.
Often there are days when you get stuck in traffic or have to work back at the office, or it's too just too cold and dark outside to leave the comfort of your sofa or bed! Having a home practice has many benefits. Here are a few easy ways to get started…
1. Create a space in your home.
Transforming an neglected corner of your home into your yoga space can be powerful. By having a space to use and also practicing in the same place at home you create a groove in your mind—the memory of past days’ experiences makes it easier to begin today. Have your props and tools, all in the same space, together nearby so that getting started doesn’t require any effort.. Maybe add any inspiring images, quotes or a specially selected cushion which can mark this place as special and sacred.
2. Keep a practice journal.
Like any practice, keeping track of what you do daily along with any emotions evoked through the practice is highly useful and insightful. Can also be a tangible way to inspire you to actually get on your mat on those days when going for a drink or numbing out in front of the tv, feels far easier. Perhaps also taking your practice journal with you to your favourite yoga classes and add any bite size pieces of inspiration that come, from the teacher can help to smooth out the rough edges on those tough days. Write down questions and fleeting thoughts that may arise in sivasana, often streamed straight from subconscious and can be insightful..
3.Practice the poses that feel good..and one that scares you!
Being able to get on the mat and practice poses that you like and are actually good at, is essential.. Allowing yourself to get into that sweet spot, mentally, emotionally and physically as well as helps to build up your self esteem so you can easily include a few attempts at a more challenging pose that terrifies you. You don’t want to just be working on poses that you can’t do, as this can be disheartening and can serve as a huge mental block to even getting you on the mat in the first place. Conversely if you only practice the poses you're great at, you stay in your comfort zone and never grow! Mix it up and you’ll feel fabulous both in mind and body.
4. Get Creative
Compile lists of postures with pictures—the ones you know and the ones that you are learning.
Drawing stick figures is a great way to learn and remember the fine points about a posture. “Ms. Stick” takes only moments to sketch. Highlight your drawing with arrows and important cues. Small figures can be used to create short sequences (vinyasas) and then build up to longer sequences, in the same sort of structure you would have in class. Remember it’s your practice routine, so it’s all about you! Are you clear about the order of your practice and the methods you are using? Are there aspects of a pose that need more attention or that intrigue you? If a posture or any other practice seems too difficult, could you break it down, or prepare for it with less challenging techniques? What are the steps in the relaxation or mindfulness methods you have learned? If you have questions, make sure to ask your teacher for help.
5. Always balance the postures with relaxation/meditation
Unfortunately these days most yoga public classes heavily focus on just the asana practice. Some teachers may not include relaxation or meditation in the class routine at all. Please don’t neglect them especially relaxation at the end, helps your body to integrate all the poses you’ve just practiced, plus it feels good to be still! Once you have begun to relax or meditate regularly, the experience will transform you.
Many students are attracted to yoga primarily in order to meditate; others are focused on physical health and are not aware of the importance of meditation. Working with the body or mind alone is usually not enough to create the inner strength and equilibrium we hope for. A balanced combination of asana practice and mindfulness. meditation will very quickly bring about a deep sense of well- being.
6. Include breath-work
Breathing is one of The most powerful tools for managing stress, anxiety and overwhelm in daily life. While a few moments of breath awareness can definitely short-circuit a fit of rage or a moment of anxiety, you might consider extending your breathing practices using them on a more regular basis—refreshing yourself for a few minutes or longer once or twice every day. During your break you can close your eyes and count your breaths, or you can simply take 10 long deep breaths while you body scan. In time you’ll find that a five-minute period of breath awareness will soothe the subtle strain of daily thinking and calm your monkey mind. Place reminders (Break for Breathing!) at one or two key places in your home or office. Better yet, don’t let an afternoon go by without using five minutes for this sort of mini-meditation.
Have a go at implementing these tools for your home practice and you'll find your practice in the studio also improves dramatically. Let me know how you get along, do share any other tips that have served you..