Ashtanga guru Pattabhi Jois’ most famous quote is “Practice, and all is coming.”
With this saying, Pattabhi Jois encourages a long-term, consistent yoga practice. With the words “all is coming,” I believe he means that by opening the body and mind often through yoga, truth will reveal itself to you in time—and with truth comes a deep peace.
Would you love to be someone who regularly practices yoga at home, effortlessly? I will share some tips with you to help you become just that.
1. Create a comfortable space for your yoga practice
If you have an extra room that you can devote to your yoga, great! Having your yoga mat out and unrolled all the time is certainly inviting.
Most of us will have to be more flexible and create a space when we want to practice. Try to find a spot where there is peace and quiet, with as much space around you as possible. An empty piece of wall can also be handy, since the wall is a great prop.
It can be nice and even helpful to create some atmosphere with a candle or an incense stick. These are just extras though, and by no means necessary to practice yoga. You can be anywhere, as long as you have enough space around you so you don’t bump into tables, chairs, etc.
I have practiced in the living room with my husband there having his breakfast and reading his paper, even commenting now and then. Not ideal, but I still got my practice in, which is most important. So be creative and get on your mat no matter what! Create the best space you can and enjoy your practice!
2. Get your yoga accessories
All you really need is a yoga mat, preferably non-slip. There are many mats out there that work, but paying a little more usually does mean a yoga mat that is more resistant to slipping. You can also buy an organic mat to be environmentally friendly.
Blocks are great, especially if your body is tight, but they can be replaced with books and other household items. A bolster is really nice, but for years I used a stack of pillows and blankets instead.
You can be as inventive and flexible with your accessories as you can be with creating your yoga space. I have been in places where I had no yoga mat and found a piece of carpet to practice on. I have even practiced on beds in hotel rooms where there was no space to roll out a mat. Just practice and be creative, no matter what (no excuses).
3. Stay safe and prevent injury
This is one tip with no shortcuts. Always watch your boundaries and especially be mindful of your body’s vulnerable areas. Particularly vulnerable areas are the knees, hips, spine and neck. If you feel any painful sensations, adjust, soften, or come out of the pose, if you need to.
Don’t force or push it. Warm up your body properly before attempting the more advanced poses. Keep checking in with your body to make sure it feels OK in a pose. Be especially mindful during transitions between poses—these are moments of potential danger because we tend to pay less attention to our alignment.
Listen to your breath as much as possible; breath tells you about yourself. When you are pushing the body, the breath is strained. When you are enjoying it and practicing with the right effort and expression, the breath is free flowing and easy.
What are you going to do when you are on your mat? The first question to ask is, “What do my body and mind need?” Do you need something active to get the juices flowing, or something more soft and restorative to quiet your body and mind? If you don’t know, just pick something (you can’t go wrong); the more you practice, the more you learn the effects of different practices and the more you learn to recognize what it is your body and mind need at different times.
If you pick an online class, don’t get stuck in reading too many class descriptions. The nature of the mind is to look for the perfect class to solve everything. That class doesn’t exist; you have to make it yourself. Pick a style and teacher that suit you for the day; scan and look for a title that speaks to you and go for it.
The way you make the class perfect for you is through practicing with full awareness, with as little resistance as possible. If there is a part you don’t like, breathe through it and observe. How you react on the mat seeps through to how you react in daily life. Remember the words, “Practice, and all is coming.” In time, your yoga practice will teach you to surrender more and more. You will learn to stop resisting what is and to stop trying to change things. Next, you will be able to apply that perspective more in your life off the mat. The peace that comes from being able to accept what is will be great; I promise.
5. Enjoy your practice!
Don’t overdo it; if you don’t enjoy your yoga practice you will never keep it up. Be careful not to “underdo” it either. You want to challenge yourself a little bit. Like one of my teachers, Taetske Kleijn says, “If you stay in your comfort zone there will be no growth, no transformation. Growth happens when you stretch it.”
6. Always relax, practice savasana after a yoga practice
It is really very important to give your body time to relax after a yoga practice. The nervous system needs time to assimilate the benefits it has gained during the practice. Otherwise you can feel unnecessarily wired after a yoga practice, particularly after an intense session.
7. Practice yoga regularly
Even once a week is regular and beneficial. Three times a week is great and every day is great, too! What works for you? If it’s very important for you to achieve in your life, then it is a good idea to set a goal of practicing three times a week and being able to do it, rather than to set a goal of practicing every day and feeling shitty if you don’t. A feeling of failure usually just makes you skip practices even more. So be honest, set realistic goals, and do what you can. A 10-minute yoga practice is still a practice and definitely counts.
8. So get on your mat, practice, and all will come.
Esther Ekhart started practicing yoga together with her mother early in her life and became a yoga teacher when she was 18. She is the founder of EkhartYoga.com, launched after the success of her YouTube channel “Yogatic.” Esther is passionate about all things yoga and spreading the yoga love.
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Assistant Ed: Thandiwe Ogbonna/Ed: Kate Bartolotta