When you catch the yoga bug, it’s natural to have a strong desire to develop some kind of home practice.
For many of us, especially those new to the yoga world, we simply don’t know where to start. To help get started, I have put together four simple and practical tips.
1. Have a yoga mat always rolled out somewhere in your house.
This is what I personally have found to be the greatest reminder to practice yoga. It also provides an opportunity for when we just feel like busting out into a long and glorious Downward Dog. Lying down on our yoga mat to take a 5 minute Savasana can also help if we’re feeling a bit wired, lost, or tired. Lying on a firm, flat surface and resting for 5 minutes helps the musculoskeletal system to reset to natural muscle length because it gives it a break from the normal pressures of gravity. This can also ground any excessive energy in our system—think of lying down for 5 minutes as a kind of “reset” button.
Let’s remember to keep shoes off our yoga mats so that the space remains clean and welcoming. Taking shoes off in our house, or at least in the room where we practice yoga, is a good place to start to employ this.
2. Start small and simple.
When I started practicing at home, I used a series of yoga DVDs to get me going. For beginners, guidance by an instructor is usually required because the poses are often still very unfamiliar.
Real life, physical classes are usually best for beginners. Not only do we gain safety with guidance, but it’s also much easier to pick up on the energy of yoga and what it’s all about. Only after we have attended some real-life yoga classes are DVDs and online classes the most useful to offer ongoing home practice.
There are bazillions of yoga DVDs available, as well as a large number of online yoga services. I have found the DVDs by yoga teacher Jessie Chapman and the online service myyogaonline.com to be of benefit. They are simple, easy to follow, and provide well-rounded classes in yoga styles very similar to what you will encounter in Western classes.
It wasn’t until I began teacher training that I started to practice yoga postures on my own without guidance. If you want to be able to guide yourself, it might be beneficial to undergo some extra training or workshops. These classes will help you to practice yoga positions with enough confidence so that you won’t always seek or need outer instruction.
In a morning, home practice, sun salutations are a good place to start. They invigorate and wake up the whole system. A sun salutation sequence can be simple to remember, adaptable to your skill level, and easy to repeat. The general idea is to repeat the sequence a number of times, with the body becoming a little warmer and more “switched on” with each repetition.
I have found that setting an easy goal of completing three rounds of salutations will get you started on your mat. If, by the end of the third round, you’re up for more—then keep going. If you start out with a number like 10 or 20, it might scare you off from even trying. Start small and go from there.
There are hundreds of free instructional videos on sun salutations available on YouTube. Here are a few that provide clear instructions to help us started:
3. Practice at a similar time every day (or most days).
Morning is always the best time to practice yoga because it sets up your energy and trajectory for the day. When we touch the stillness and plug into the field of universal Prana / Qi each morning, any dramas that unfold later in the day tend to bounce off of the inner stillness we create with little or no effect.
According to the natural laws of yin and yang, mornings are more suited to invigorating and potentially stronger physical practices. Evenings are more suited to slower and gentler practices.
4. Yoga practice can be a variety of things, not just postures.
Yoga doesn’t have to mean practicing poses each day or repeating sun salutations. Sometimes, there may be a strong urge inside to simply sit still and/or meditate. Other times, you may want to be gentler with yourself and just do some slow, deep stretches. You may even want to sit quietly and read some of Patanjali’s yoga sutras or phrases in the Bhagavad Gita. Whatever yoga aligned activity arises in the space dedicated to your home practice, I would say— honor that.
It doesn’t really matter what the practice or technique is; what matters is that we give ourselves the time to simply be with yoga in some way each morning.
In this way, we learn that yoga is not just a physical practice, but a holistic and complete one.
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Editorial Assistant: Lizzie Kramer/Editor: Bryonie Wise