5 tips for your home yoga practice
One of the most common questions I get asked when people find out that I’m a Yoga teacher is “How often do you do it?”. My answer: every day.
Well, almost every day…unless I am bed ridden or off on an adventure! But even then, there is more than one way to practice yoga…
I’ve realised over the years that the days when I really don’t feel like it are the days that I really need to do it. And once I discovered that there was more than one way to practice yoga and that 5 minutes on the mat is good enough, I now can’t wait to do it every day!
Unless you are squeezing in a session before work or picking up the kids, try not to time how long you practice for. Practice for as long you want/need to, let your body guide you as to how long to stretch, hold and linger. You will enjoy it more and won’t be distracted by your mind asking how much longer you have to stay in warrior 2! If motivation or time (I hear ya mamas!) is an issue, time it but know that it is ok and absolutely beneficial to do 5 or 10 minutes. If you know that you are more likely to practice more often because you only have to do 10 minutes then that’s what you need to do. If you are looking for results, you are more likely to see them doing a 10 minute session regularly rather than a 90 minute session once every couple of weeks!
2. LET YOUR BODY LEAD
Use your intuition, your body knows how it would like to stretch and where it would love to linger so just go with it. I did the same sequence every day until I realised that I wasn’t feeling motivated to get on the mat anymore, and was using any excuse not to practice. I was bored, it wasn’t at all what my body felt like doing and because I wasn’t connected to the poses my mind would take over and I’d spend my practice thinking about everything but the asana and my breath. So let yourself experiment, take a week or two to just let your body lead you into a series of postures and slowly develop your Sadhana. Many yogi’s (including myself) have a specific Sadhana that they complete daily. Simply put, a Sadhana is a disciplined and dedicated practice that you do every day (usually at the same time) for a specific number of days. 21 days or a month is always a good amount of time to start with and traditionally, if you missed a day, you begin again at day 1! But if 7 days seems more reasonable then go with it. Time wise, as my teacher Shantimurti says “if 20-30 minutes seems do-able then do that”. You don’t have to practice intensely for 2 hours every day to feel the benefits of yoga. Your personal Sadhana doesn’t just have to be postures either, you can incorporate anything into your daily routine. Tip number 5 gives some good ideas as to what else you may want to add to your Sadhana.
3. TAKE A CLASS
I get that some people prefer to keep yoga private and practice at home rather than with a class, me too. But it is good to go to a class every once and a while, get a fresh perspective, learn some new moves, get alignment advice and ask the teacher any questions you have on postures that you practice. If you really don’t like groups, book a private lesson with a teacher. Most teachers welcome 1-2-1 sessions, and you get the undivided attention of a professional.
4. FIND NATURE
Ever taken your mat out to the backyard and practiced yoga? It’s amazing! If you have any space outside, I highly recommend it. It doesn’t have to be a big space either, all you really need is to fit your yoga mat and your are away! If you don’t have a back yard, find a spot at a park or your local gardens.
Say what?! Most people are surprised to learn there is more than one type of yoga. If you don’t feel like practicing asanas then choose another type of yoga to practice:
Karma Yoga – Focusing on being of service and selflessness, Karma Yogis believe that your experiences today are a consequence of your past actions. Practice by doing a kind deed with no expectation of reward.
Raja Yoga – The main focus of Raja Yoga is meditation, contemplation and self mastery, which is achieved by following the 8 limbs of yoga. Practice by doing doing one of these 5 minute meditations.
Jnana Yoga – Intellectual yogis are drawn to Jnana Yoga as it is the yoga of the mind. If reading scripture and traditional yogic texts appeals to you then this is your yoga. Practice by reading a book on Yoga such as Autobiography of a Yogi by Yogananda Paramahansa.
Tantra Yoga – Be honest, when you read this your mind instantly offered up an image of a sex, probably including some type of sensual massage. Tantra Yoga is actually the practice of ritual. The belief is that by performing rituals, everything we experience is sacred. Practice by having a hot bath or some other self care ritual you love. Really make it special by using bath salts or essential oils, take the time for your favourite ritual and enjoy every minute of it.
So, does this make you feel excited and motivated about creating or tweaking your own home practice? Which tip is your favourite, hands up who is running a bath?!