Nowadays, life is busy. Really busy. We barely unwind and hardly ever unplug. 24 hours a day we can connect to the world, and it makes switching off very difficult.
Yet we know the importance of taking time out for our health. Exercising, quietening our mind for a few precious moments. Keeping fit, and supple and in tune with ourselves. One way to achieve all of this and much more is yoga! The health benefits are far reaching and can add years onto our life span.
So arguably we need activities such as yoga more than ever, but the paradox is…. who has the time?
In truth, yoga doesn’t “take time” — it gives time. ~Ganga White, Yoga Beyond Belief: Insights to Awaken and Deepen Your Practice, 2007
Heading to a yoga class can be wonderful. You pull on your special yoga outfit, grab your mat and head off to the studio to see your yoga buddies and allow yourself to be guided by a professional as you twist and bend for an hour long session. But it can take a serious chunk out of your day – which makes it tricky to incorporate on a regular basis. With travel, greetings and the poses themselves you can expect to rack up about 90 minutes every time.
To get the very best benefits of yoga it is said that you should practice it every single day. And doing it at home can be the most convenient and inexpensive way to reap the benefits without getting behind on other responsibilities.
Before you start, it is advisable that you have some basic knowledge of the poses, as yoga can be challenging and it is possible to cause injury if you push your body too far too quickly. You could spend some time with a qualified yoga teacher or try guided video or audio instruction if you are a complete beginner.
But providing you have some knowledge and an understanding of your boundaries then you should be good to go. The main thing is to always listen to your body.
The first tip to starting yoga at home is to start small! If you are going to keep this up don’t scare yourself by forcing an hour’s practise every time. Begin with shorter time slots, of around 15 to 20 minutes. Doing this every day will be of more benefit than working out for an hour once a week.
You can play around with different times of the day to see which works best for you, but remember it is not advisable to eat just before you practise. Maybe you are the kind of person who wants to get their yoga done in the morning, this gives you a buzz for the whole day. But of that doesnit work, then how about taking your mat to work and finding a quiet spot to spend 20 minutes or so performing your chosen asanas.
Performing yoga in the evening also has it’s benefits, helping you to realign your posture after a day’s activities and releasing tension. 20 minutes of yoga can leave you completely relaxed and ready for a refreshing sleep.
You could even try several short sequences dotted throughout your day. Sun salutations in the morning, a few balances at lunch and inversions before bed.
TrueSelfYoga.com also has some other interesting points to consider about the time of day you practise:
Another factor to take into consideration is that you will feel stiffer in the morning than later in the day. If you are already flexible, than a morning practice will feel richer and more beneficial. If you are dealing with chronically stiff muscles and joints, than a later day yoga practice will allow more ease and more enjoyment. This is helpful because the more you enjoy your yoga practice, the more likely you are to practice yoga frequently. In India, the climate is so hot during the day, that early morning is also a good time to exercise. This might apply to you if you live in a hot climate or even seasonally when the weather is warmer. But during the winter, you might want to move your yoga practice to later in the day (and into a warm room!).
Your own physical limitations and even your climate should be taken into account. The overall consensus is: Whatever feels right for you is what you should do!
The second tip to start a regular home yoga practise is to keep showing up! Don’t let yourself off of the hook too easily, take charge of the little voice in your head that gives you a million excuses to skip practise today and just get on your mat.
The beauty of performing yoga at home is that you can tailor your asanas to suit your mood and your needs at any given time. Days that you are not feeling your best could be days when yoga makes a real difference to you. Although, if you are actually unwell it is advised that you take a break.
As mentioned in point 2, the third tip to getting going with yoga at home is to keep your routine nice and simple (at least at first). One of the benefits of going to class is that you don’t need to think about a routine, you can just follow the teacher’s instructions. So don’t try to be too complex at first!
Choose a set of poses that allow you to go at your own pace and stick to those for a while until the routine becomes second nature. Alternatively you can follow an instructional video or audio, which you can find quite easily online.
When building your own routine, be sure to include warm up poses before moving onto more intense asanas. There are also some great counter poses to perform after certain movements, so do your homework before you start.
A great idea for those practising for short periods each day is to put together a schedule that covers your full body over the course of a week.
You don’t have to be flexible to do yoga, you just have to be willing to shake the dust off and see what happens. ~David Good
If at all possible, aim to perform your yoga in the same place each day. This will reinforce the element of ritual to your practise, and make it easier over time to get into the right head space. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just enough space to lay down your mat.
Although, that said, there is nothing to stop you from making this into your sanctuary, with scented candles, inspiring pictures and relaxing music. When choosing your mat, make sure that you are happy with the thickness and ‘stickiness’ all of these things will affect your experience. The colour and design should also speak to you. You can even stock up on a few yoga props such as blocks, or not.
This is your space, work with what feels good to you and benefits your practise. The main thing is to make sure you will not be disturbed for a while – so switch off the phone!!
The yoga mat is a good place to turn when talk therapy and antidepressants aren’t enough. ~Amy Weintraub
Most importantly (and I think you may have picked this up by now!) the trick to beginning a yoga practise at home, that you can stick to, is to make sure that you are having fun.
It is true that the philosophy behind yoga is really quite deep, and the idea is to transcend eventually, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy yourself along the way. If you are going to chisel out 20 minutes of your precious schedule every single day just for you, then they had better be worthwhile!
So make the minutes count, go at your own pace and do what feels good to you. Who knows, these could be your favourite 20 minutes of each day. The goal is that you actually start to look forward to this time, and it will become very difficult to skip a session.
Yoga is invigoration in relaxation. Freedom in routine. Confidence through self control. Energy within and energy without. ~Terri Guillemets, 2002
What are your thoughts?
Are you already an avid yoga bunny? Or is all of that stretching and sweating not for you?
We would love to hear from you.
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