Coming to a regular yoga class does wonders for your well-being and it's great to be able to turn up at a set time and have someone guide you through a practice, make adjustments and help you learn. Taking your yoga practice home gives you an opportunity to do just that - keep practicing! But where do you start? How long should you practice for? What should you do?
It can be hard to know where to start when it comes to practicing yoga at home. But there are no rules and remember it’s your practice so ultimately you have the freedom to do whatever feels good for you on that day.
Here are some tips to get you started:
· Find a time to practice when you can be away from distraction – whether that’s from other people, the cat or your own to do list!
· Find a comfortable space to practice – it doesn’t have to be large or dedicated to yoga, just enough for you to stretch your arms and legs. Even a little warm up before you get out of bed in the morning counts!
· There’s no ideal length of time for a yoga practice 10 minutes or one hour are as equally valuable.
· Use a timer if you know you are limited on time, then you won’t be worrying about how long you’ve been practicing for.
· Not sure what to do? Roll out your mat, take a seat, notice how you are feeling and start moving. If you start with simple warm up poses that you are familiar with then you may well find that your practice flows from that.
· Pick a pose that you would like to work on and use that as the focus for your practice. Think about what parts of the body need to be warmed up and stretched for that pose and start with gentle exercises to warm you up in those areas.
· Play with poses that you enjoy from your class.
· Don’t worry about the sequence of your poses to begin with, start by doing what comes naturally.
· You can use normal objects around the house as props – books make a good block or brick alternative, cushions, blankets or a towel are useful too, furry animals are optional.
· Make time for Savasana at the end of your practice, even if it’s only short.
Here’s some useful online info:
Guideline sequence of poses for planning a practice
It’s not essential to follow all of this sequence or even in this order, any element is optional, depending on how you feel and how much time you have, but I’d recommend you always start with centering and finish with savasana.
Centering - seated, lying down or stand in tadasana – take a moment to focus on how you are feeling and your breath before you start
Gentle warm up and stretching - shoulder and neck stretches, chest openers, hip and leg stretches, palm tree vinyasa, cat/cow
Sun salutation - traditional sun salutation or any variation of to warm up the whole body in a more dynamic way
Standing poses - Warrior 1,2 & 3, Triangle, Chair, Pyramid, extended side angle, forward fold, standing wide legged forward fold, tree, half moon, or any twist variation of these
Abdominals - Boat, plank
Backbends - Sphinx, cobra, camel, locust, bow
Seated twists - Half lord of the fishes or any seated position with a twist
Hip openers - Bound angle, shoelace, pinwheel pigeon (or full pigeon)
Seated forward bends - Wide legged forward fold, paschimottanasana, head to knee
Cooling inversions - Bridge, half shoulder stand, downward dog, legs up the wall (or over a chair)
Supine twist - It’s quite nice to finish with a twist from lying down
Pranayama - breath work from either a comfortable seated position with a tall spine (in a chair or leaning against a wall is fine) or lying down. This can be as simple as just noticing your breath or you can work on other breath exercises if you are familiar with them.
Savasana - try alternatives such as legs up the wall or bolster (cushion or rolled up towel) under the knees or along the spine.
Morning yoga – a short, wake up practice you can do from your bed
Try these poses to gently wake up the body and encourage you out of bed. Alternatively practice on the floor next to your bed as an option.
· Inhale and stretch arms up overhead
· Bend knees to chest for a lower back stretch, widen knees to armpits for a variation
· Bend one knee into chest and extend the other leg out long for hip stretch
· Bend knees in for hip circles
· Arms to shoulder height and drop knees to either side for a gentle twist, extend top leg for a leg stretch
· Roll onto all fours for cat/cow
· Extend arms for puppy pose
· Childs pose
· Kneel on bed, hips to heels then on inhale raise arms and come to high kneeling opening arms for a gentle backbend if you feel like it, lower arms back to sit on heels. Repeat as you like.
Night-time yoga in bed
These are poses that I like to practice myself and they are a great way to switch off and prepare for a good night’s sleep.
I hope this goes a little way to help and inspire you to start your own home practice. The most important thing is to have fun and enjoy playing, learning and discovering your yoga.