Beginner's Guide - At Home Yoga Practice
- Take a few beginner yoga classes to get down the basic poses. I really recommend taking at least one class per week. I teach one every Monday night!
- Focus on starting off with a five minute practice then work your way up to 20 minutes a day. This could be as simple as a breathing practice or just being MINDFUL. It's not always about the asana (pose).
- Make it a priority to fit yoga into your schedule every day. Like I said, it could just be the above. This could be before you step out of bed in the morning setting an intention to take time for you at some point in the day. Yes, that is a priority.
- Sit for a few minutes a day in Easy pose- cross-legged position (Sukhasana) or you can do this sitting up in a chair if it's more comfortable. Focusing in on rooting those sitting bones down towards the floor or chair seat (feeling that connection), sitting up nice and tall, reaching up through the crown of the head, and relaxing your shoulder down. Try staying her for 5-10 breaths and focus on releasing negative energy with the exhalation.
- It's great to follow fellow yogi's on Instagram or Facebook.
- Join an Instagram challenge. I have learned quite a few poses by doing this - it's an excellent source for inspiration and guidance.
- Please don't be overly concerned with having the pose or the flow down perfect. The main goal here is to be tuning into your body with your breath or just being in the pose with good intention. Trust me when I say it might take years to get a pose fully down and even then you will still be learning new things about the pose... and your body. It's a lot of information to take in a first. So, when you are ready, you will really hear what it is that you need to get.
- LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! Practice ahimsa (non-harm) You should never ever feel pain.
- Memorize Sun Salutation. This is a great flow to do in the morning to start off your day. Just a few rounds will have you energized and stretched - ready to take on the day.
- Be mindful of what you are feeding your body. Yes, your body is a temple and you need to treat it with the utmost respect. "You are what you eat". I'm not saying to go fully vegetarian, but become aware of what goes into the making of the food you are putting into your mouth and feeding your family. Maybe you cut back on your meat consumption and or maybe you plant a garden. It's just these little steps that help with living the fullest life that we can lead will leaving the least amount of damage behind. Balance is key.
This is practicing ahimsa- nonharm and brahymachara - moderation in all things.
- Focus on linking the breath to the movement and this will be your moving meditation. You could always just flow from Child's Pose to Down Dog. Also, one of my favorites is cat/dog flow. The key here is linking two or three poses and moving through the poses while matching up the movement with your breath. *see below for pics
- Too tired to practice? Do Legs Up the Wall Pose.
- In a store or at work and feel really out of sorts? Try tadasana (Mountain Pose) to help with centering yourself.
- In the car driving and feel tense and stressed out? Try being mindful of your body and where you are holding onto tension. I do this often and notice that my shoulders are up to my ears, my hand will be in fists, and sometimes my teeth are clenched. So, I take notice, I relax these areas with my breath sending a signal to my nervous system that all is good.
- Feel like your world is falling apart? Lay down in savasana and just watch your breathing. Give yourself five minutes, set a timer on your phone. If your mind is racing, take notice of the rise and fall of your chest; maybe counting your breath. Breathing in for a count of two and breathing out for a count of four. Thoughts coming and going are normal and just allow them to be - not focusing in on them, not judging them, not criticizing them, just allowing them to flow freely... giving them permission to release. The same holds true for feeling that may rise up in you... breathe through it.
- Try not to multitask all the time. Do just one thing and really immerse yourself into it. That's the practice of mindfulness. Being present. Take a shower and take notice of the water hitting your skin (notice the temperature) and the what it feels like to have your fingertips washing through your hair. Be mindful during dinner and really enjoy your food; smelling it at first, feeling the texture in your mouth, taking time to chew just a little longer then normal, tasting the difference from when the food hits the tip of your tongue to how it feels hitting those taste buds towards the back of the mouth.
- Need to get out of your head for a few moments...or just need help focusing? Give Tree Pose a try. I can still remember the exact class that this hit me hard, the whole yoga philosophy. I had gotten into Tree Pose, picked my drishti (focal point) and stayed there just breathing. When I came out of this pose, I had an epiphany. So this is what yoga is all about! It's like my mind had stopped (FINALLY!) and I was finally fully present. What a beautiful feeling that was.
- The biggest thing here is don't be hard on yourself. I use to think to be a true yogi I would have to do a 60 minute hard core yoga routine. I tried it and failed. That might work for some people, but for me it was just too much, too soon. So, now I just listen to my body and make it a point to do what I can - even if it's five minutes of practice in the day. Like I said above, sometimes it's just a restorative flow or tuning into my breathing.
- Finally - have fun with this and don't take yourself so seriously. Practice, practice, and practice. When the time is right you will be able to have that hardcore practice (if that's what you like) and maybe eventually get into that impossible-looking pose. You just need to take the first steps.
*Do the right side and then the left. Key here is linking breath with the movement. Start with one round and work your way up.