How to Start your Personal Yoga Practice

Four Tips to Help You Start Practicing Yoga At Home

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Tree Pose is a great way to connect with your balance, improve alignment and cultivate stillness

Everyone can do yoga, and you don’t need to pay for yoga each time you practice. While you may want to read about the classic asanas to develop your vocabulary of yoga, yoga is essentially an exploration of movement coordinating each breath with motion.

“Asana variations are not just for people with specific physical problems. They can help all yoga practitioners remain open to discovery.” T.K.V. Desikachar

To develop your own yoga program at home, consider these basic guidelines.

Set your intention. Decide what is bringing you to the mat, and whether your goal is to de-stress, improve your mobility, or perhaps become more aware of your own internal sensations in a fast-paced, external-driven world. If you can condense that intention into one phrase or word. Each time before you practice, repeat your intention to yourself while in a passive, restful place or stretch.

Respect your body’s limits. Yoga is not a competitive sport nor is every pose suitable for every body. When you feel pain, back off. Move slowly, especially if you are new to yoga and choose a short sequence created for beginners. If you find yourself focused on ‘being better’ at a pose ditch the sequence and pick a series of postures you find easier to attain: consider taking the poses less literally more as a roadmap of motion with the ultimate goal to stretch your body in a kind way.

Pick a simple sequence using counterposes. By picking a simple range of sequences that you can repeat several times you can focus your attention on mindfully coordinating each movement with your inhale or exhale. Don’t pick complicated or advanced poses you haven’t practiced before instead opting for simple movements. Ideally, each pose you practice should be paired with an opposing movement. Counterposes enable one to fully experience the range of movement, and the body to feel the full expansion between two polar motions.

Consider Pranayama in place of a peak or apex pose. Traditional yoga classes generally work up their students to a particularly challenging pose known as an apex or peak pose which is generally positioned 3/4th into the class right before meditation. Practicing a challenging pose can give one a sense of accomplishment or make a workout feel harder. However, if you are creating your own practice consider placing an exercise in this slot that challenges your breath control.

The most scientific benefits of yoga are actually in the meditation and Pranayama (breath control). I personally enjoy teaching students variations of alternative nostril breathing in Hero’s Pose because it enables practitioners to benefit from the compression of the pose, the straightening of the spine and the simple movement of coordinating fingers with breath gives them something to focus on when initially just focusing on the breath may seem daunting in its simplicity.

Thank you for reading my post. I hope it inspires you to practice, and enjoy the abundant benefits of yoga.

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