Ideas for Establishing Your Own Home Yoga Practice

There are countless options on approaching your asana practice, so always remember that yoga is something wonderful that you give yourself. If you ever find that your desire to have a home practice begins to weigh on you like an obligation or a habit, give yourself permission to make it fun again. Each day, disregard all previous notions of what you enjoy about yoga, of which is your favorite posture, of which postures feel good and which do not, of who you are and who you are not. In the present, with an open heart, begin your asana practice. These are just a few ideas:

Start with Breathing: in a comfortable seated position (on the floor or in a chair), start with 5-10 minutes of quiet breathing. Rather than forcing your breath in any way, allow it to flow comfortably and naturally within you. Bring your focus to your breath, and each time you find your mind wandering, simply allow yourself to re-focus on the breath. Feel what it feels like to be in your own body and self at that moment.

Intuitive Flow: without any internal narrative or judgment, simply follow the quiet messages of your body moving this way and that without concern for whether or not what you are doing is an "official asana." This is probably how all the asanas were created in the first place! Allow your breath to clear the active thoughts and bring your inner gaze, your awareness, to how your body feels with each movement. Be aware of when your mind wanders, of when you feel like staying in a posture forever, and when you feel inclined to quickly move to something new. Music can also be a wonderful addition to an intuitive flow.

Vinyasa Flow: practicing the same sort of sun salutations and flowing sequences like we do in class is a completely new experience when we practice alone. The gift of a teacher's guidance is a wonderful and necessary tool, but the experience of finding our own inner guidance is unparalleled! After each class, if there was a sequence or pose that you particularly connected with, make a note of it on a piece of paper, or in a yoga journal (stick figures are great for this). Later, you can reference these for ideas when you are practicing at home. Or, simply allow yourself to be moved from posture to posture, following your intuition as you flow.

Static Asanas: sometimes, a flowing practice is too vigorous or else sometimes our bodies just crave postures for many, many minutes. Although we generally practice a flowing style of yoga in class, don't feel limited in this way. If you find yourself in a pose where you are able to maintain relaxed focus and evolution, you may want to stay there until your body sends you a new idea. Sometimes we may hold just 2-3 postures in a whole hour.

Always allow yourself time to finish the practice with savasana (corpse pose), and also a seated meditation anywhere from one minute to . as long as you want!

Remember also that discipline is a wonderful tool that helps us stay committed to ourselves and our highest aims. A daily practice could last as long as 5 minutes to all day! Whenever possible, we can allow ourselves great freedom by not deciding how long we will spend doing our practice. Sometimes we may think we only want 10 minutes and then we will be yoging for a full hour, or else the opposite can happen. What is most important is honoring our desire for yoga, and finding it within ourselves in ways that are invigorating and centering.

You will feel like a glorious blossom when you are through!

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Updated January 10, 2005   amey@yogawithamey.com