So you’ve come to love that relaxed and energized feeling you’ll get in yoga class. Maybe you’ve noticed you sleep better after a yoga class, or you feel calmer, or happier. Maybe it is a great way to unwind after a busy day or a hectic week. Or maybe yoga proved to be helpful to achieve your goals in life, because it has become easier to focus and you feel better. Whatever it is, it would be nice to get that feeling whenever you want to. Practising yoga at home might be something to try or do more often.
When my yoga teacher told me that my own yoga practice would probably be more beneficial that the scheduled yoga classes, I knew she had a point. Yoga is about your own experience, the connection with your own body and finding ways to calm your mind while doing the poses and the breathing. Of course it would be a good idea to do this on my own as well. But I remember that first time at home very well. I had bought a brand new yoga mat and there I was, sitting in “easy pose” like the picture above. And yes, I even had a cat running around as well. The thing is, I really felt silly on my mat because I did not really know what to do. Mind you, we didn’t have Youtube or Yoga Apps or anything like that at the time. I think I had a few books though, but that didn’t help much either, because I wanted to flow from one pose in another, like in yoga class, and flipping through pages in a book while doing yoga, didn’t make sense to me.
And now I am a yoga teacher myself and I encourage people in my yoga class to practise a little bit at home. One way of doing this is to keep things very simple. Your practice at home doesn’t have to be a copy of a yoga class you’ve been attending. You can make your own simple recipe.
A first helpful question is: “what is your goal”? If the goal is to relax, just pick a few relaxing poses for example as described below, and make time for the most important yoga pose: the savasana!
Savasana is part of every yoga practice, so if you want to do a short yoga practice, just do this one for 10 minutes. You lie as still as possible, as relaxed as possible, toes outward, hands away from the body with the palms facing up and follow your breath. Don’t fall asleep, but relax your body completely. Thoughts and emotions may present themselves, just observe them and bring your attention back to your breathing. That’s all, a simple pose, but for most people not so easy, because we have to lie still in savasana. And that can be very challenging after a day of running around.
Savasana is part of every yoga practise, but maybe your goal is to become stronger or more flexible. You can find lots of ideas on the internet if you look for “yoga pose” and “flexibility” or “strength”. Pick a few poses that you have done before and that you are comfortable with. Safety first, when practising alone. When in doubt, ask your yoga teacher or if you have doubts about doing yoga at home and your health, consult your doctor first.
A few ideas for your home practice – if you have done them before in yoga class – are shown below.
This is a nice side stretch. Breath into the right upper side of your body as you lift your right hand up to the sky, making space with your breath.
Another pose you can easily do at home is a forward bend. Now pay attention that you keep your knees bent a little and that your belly is in contact with your legs. Bend your knees as much as you like.
The pose above is great for opening the chest. You interlace your fingers behind your back if possible. I always use a sock or a strap to bring my hands together. The idea is to open the chest by breathing into the chest. Keep looking straight ahead.
This is my favourite pose. Legs up the wall, eyes closed and just breath into your belly. Do this for 10 to 15 minutes after a busy day and you will feel completely different afterwards!
And for those who would like to practise balance, incorporate a tree pose. Note that you can place your foot over your ankle as well, if that feels better. Breath into your belly as calm as possible and keep your eyes focused on a point in front of you.
How long do I practise?
The answer to that one is, as long as you like and/or as long as you have the time. Savasana will take up 5 minutes at least, so your shortest practice will be 5 minutes and if you add a few other poses, well, you will have a 30-minute practice before you know it. The most important thing is that you have some time to connect to your innerself and to enjoy your yoga! Namaste!