Yoga allows us to fully inhabit our true self and engage with life in an energised and inquisitive way. What better way to start the New Year than with a dedicated home yoga practice?
The rewards of a committed, regular yoga practice encourage deep relaxation, better quality sleep, muscle strength and flexibility. Yoga can deeply encourage us to make space for greater appreciation and find peace in all that we do.
Committing to a regular practice initially involves simply showing up, which means simply placing two feet on a mat. Increasingly demanding schedules and fast-paced lives make finding time to consistently practice with dedication a challenge.
Choosing the right space for your home yoga practice
When practicing with a tutor from home, it can be really inspiring to choose a space that is clear and calm, even if that space involves pushing a sofa to one side. Keeping personal items you enjoy and cherish nearby such as plants, pictures and maybe a favourite blanket to wrap yourself in whilst resting at the end is also a wonderful way to make the practice feel special.
I like to think of the space I practice in as my alter, a space for my feelings, physicality and mind to settle and simply be. Keeping a candle or your favourite incense nearby can really enhance the practice too, as smells cut through cognition and enable us to immediately engage with our sensory bodies.
Having the yoga essentials for your self-practice
There are a few items I consider to be essentials, these are a good quality non-stick mat, a cork brick and possibly a strap. Simple and effective equipment is a wise investment. As you grow to love self-practice you may wish to upgrade these items and purchase things that are more specific, yet there are basics that will support your posture and make home practice as safe and accessible as possible. Cork is better than foam as a composite, as it is sturdier and provides greater support. These can help you maintain an elongated spine in forward folds and support optimal alignment in twists, as well postural support whilst sitting crossed legged in meditation. If you are working towards finding space in the psoas and seated forward folds feel forced, a strap can also enable you to keep the shoulders blades spread.
Scheduling the right time for your home yoga practice
When scheduling a time to practice, pick one that suits your body clock and daily duties. It can help to put this in your diary and view it as a priority much like you would a lunch date or another appointment, rather than a task you may get around to if there is time, as it will often get sidetracked this way. Setting aside dedicated time and making self-practice as important as anything else you do is a really strong way to begin. It is a worthwhile investment that will hopefully save you time in other ways, as a calm mind, strong and well-rested body can operate more efficiently.
Selecting the right form of movement for your body & mind
Deciding how and what to practice is something to consider. One of my most cherished yoga authors, Donna Farhi, suggests that any form of movement practiced with awareness is a form of self-enquiry. Therefore, even the simplest of poses and transitions on a mat can provide a challenge depending on how we are feeling both mentally and physically on any particular day. Vinyasa flow will always energise the body, and the creative aspect of it can stimulate the growth of new neural pathways in the brain! Yet hatha flow enables a slower transition between poses, a little more space and time to breathe and a longer hold of poses that encourages deep grounding and concentration. Yin is very restoring and can open the body up and challenge whilst remaining more stationary, enabling challenge and growth to occur during times of exhaustion.
Two books I highly recommend whilst practicing are Yoga Mind, Body & Spirit by Donna Farhi, and Insight Yoga by Sarah Powers. These books offer guidance about yoga as a holistic practice, and demonstrate how to enter poses and hold them in the correct alignment. Starting simply enables a safe practice and journey through self-guidance, which is entirely different to being taken through a sequence orally by a teacher. Simplicity does not suggest a lack of challenge; in fact, at times embracing simplicity is a challenge in itself. These books suggest ways to move and hold the body that are deeply healing and grounding. By having some resources of your own for instruction you can look up things that have been passed on by your favourite teachers, refer to them for advice and ways to improve and continue the practice in between sessions.
Journaling your home yoga practice along the way
Finally, journaling may be a wonderful asset to your practice. The practice, along with meditation can reveal many new insights and perspectives. Noting these down can help keep the mind clear and focused, whilst providing valuable reflection regarding the worth and value of self-practice. Practicing yoga effects many aspects of every day life and is never limited to the experiences we have whist practicing directly on a mat. Most importantly, try to remain playful and inquisitive in your approach, as the practice is exploratory and every experience you have will be unique.
—– Written By Hollie, one of our amazing Y2M teacher. Hollie teaches creative vinyasa flow with integral breathwork that focuses on specific areas of the body; using intelligent alignment with anatomical relevance and novel sequencing that allows clients to feel revived, present, and inspired inviting a happier, more balanced state of mind.