Yoga at Home: A Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Home Yoga Practice
You’ve set up your home yoga space, so now what? This can be a stumbling block for many people. But the benefits of a daily practice are numerous– better sleep, improved flexibility, mobility and balance, greater self-awareness, greater strength, improved posture and energy– the list goes on and on.
To help you stay motivated and know what to do one you arrive on your mat, here are eight (8) tips for getting started:
Set Realistic Expectations
The idea of having a dedicated yoga space is to inspire you to practice, not make you feel guilty. Start small, aiming to practice once or twice a week on your own. You can always do more. And be realistic about duration of your practice. Five minutes of sitting quietly and breathing counts as practicing.
When life interrupts or makes it difficult to take time for practice, utilize the “rule of one.” Do one yoga pose. Or take one minute to focus on your breath and set an intention for the day. In the evening, pause before you turn out the light to recall one thing form your day that brought you joy. Small practices, like this gratitude one, can have a profound effect.
Find a Consistent Time to Practice
When starting to establish a home practice, experiment with different times of day and notice how they make you feel. An early morning practice can energize you for the day ahead whereas practicing in the late afternoon or right before bed allows you to release accumulated stress.
Then find a time of day that consistently works for your lifestyle. Think about when you are most likely to feel motivated to get on your mat. Consider setting your morning alarm 15 minutes earlier. Or turn off TV 30 minutes before bed and use time for a calming, restorative practice to induce relaxation & sleep. Alternatively, commit to spending 10-15 minutes at the end of the day, perhaps as soon as you arrive home from work, for practice. Linking your practice to already established routine can help.
Start with Quiet
Begin each practice by centering yourself. Take four to five breaths and check in with yourself. When you begin with stillness, you can see how your body and mind feel and then decide what to do based on what you notice.
Set an Intention
Using the information you’ve gathered from spending a few moments in quiet, choose a focus for your practice based on your observations. If your mind is agitated, you might chose to do some standing poses that require concentration or to move slowly and mindfully as a way of calming your thoughts. Tired and pressed for time? Practice a few restorative poses or opt for a more energizing practice that incorporates lots of backbends. The more you use your practice to take care of your immediate needs, the more strength and energy you’ll have in the long run.
Move in All Directions
To create a complete practice, attempt to choose at least one pose for each direction the body moves—leaning side to side, forward and back, twisting, and turning upside down (which could be as simple as downward dog or a standing forward bend). By doing this, you’ll create a complete practice that will feel satisfying and also supports the health of your spine.
Choose Poses You Love
Incorporate poses you love from your regular weekly classes. Most likely these are the poses that feel good to your body and are most effective in releasing tension. Don’t worry about sequencing, just choose your favorites and do them. Over time you’ll discover a sequence that is just right for you.
Always Take Time for Savasana
It is really important to give your body time to relax in Savasana at the end of a yoga practice. The nervous system needs time to assimilate the benefits it has gained during the practice. Build into your practice time at least 2-5 minutes of stillness. You’ll be happy you did.