Thursday, May 5, 2016

My Guide for Practicing Yoga at Home


My at-home yoga practice is incredibly important to me. It complements everything I learn at the studio and it's where I deepen my practice. When I first started yoga, I would only do yoga at the studio. I never implemented anything I learned at home. It wasn't until I later that I realized the importance of both.

Are you interested in practicing more yoga at home or beginning to practice yoga in general? Here are my list of tips, poses, resources, books and more to get you started.

But first, you need your yoga essentials.

So what do you need for an at-home yoga practice? These are suggestions that can enhance your experience, but you don't necessarily need all of these items. You can really practice yoga with just your body.

Yoga essentials (besides a yoga mat):
  • Essential oils such as lavender.
  • Yoga strap.
  • Yoga blocks.
  • Water bottle.
  • Yoga sock or gloves.
  • Comfortable yoga attire.
  • Yoga towel.
  • Bolster.
  • Eye pillow. 
  • Blanket.

Things to consider when buying a yoga mat:
  • Consider the width, size and texture of the yoga mat. Taller individuals may want to look for a longer mat than the standard size.
  • Consider whether you want one made from recycled materials. 
  • Determine the amount of money you want to spend on a mat. You can find mats at all price points.
  • Pick a design/color you like.
  • NOTE: I suggest buying a mat in person when possible to see the texture. I prefer mats that are more absorbent and prevent me from slipping when I sweat a lot. (When I used some of the more affordable mats out there, I noticed my hands would slide forward in downward-facing dog.)  

Online yoga resources/classes:

  • Yoga Journal has videos demonstrating poses, breathing techniques and full classes.

How to Practice Yoga at Home or During the Work Day:

  • If you can't do a full practice, at least give yourself time for savasana. It helps my husband Graham and me sleep better at night when we take 15-20 minutes before bed to get into corpse pose. (I outline what we do below.)
  • Take breaks from work or household chores with yoga poses. (Examples are also listed below.)
  • Begin and/or end your day with even a few minutes of meditation or journaling.
  • You can even practice yoga breathing techniques while sitting at your desk or commuting to calm you down and help you focus.
Poses I Do Regularly at Home/Work:
I practice yoga at home regularly, but these are my recent favorites. Find detailed instructions on how to do any yoga pose on Yoga Journal's website.
  • Tadasana: Stand with equal weight on all corners of your feet. Spread your toes and lift them and them place them back down on the mat. Feel your kneecaps lifting. Feel your navel lifting up as well. Move your shoulders away from your ears. Make sure the crown of your head is above your pelvic. Squeeze your inner thighs and rotate them inward. Bring your hands your sides, spread your fingers and turn your palms to face forward. Breathe and feel the strength of the pose. 
  • Standing forward bend: From tadasana, bring your hands down toward the floor, bending your knees softly. Make sure your weight is evenly balanced from the front and back of your feet. This is a great pose to use blocks if your hands down reach the ground, which is totally OK, by the way. This pose feels good after sitting down at a desk for a while. 
  • Utkatasana (Sometimes referred to as Chair or Fierce pose): From tadasana, place your feet closer together. Toes are together and heels are slightly apart. Bend your knees, which are together. Gentle "tuck" your tailbone and lift your navel toward your spine. Make sure you can see your toes. Lift your arms up overhead, with your arms next to your ears. This pose can give you power to deal with stress in your life. I recommend this when you're feeling overwhelmed or defeated.
  • Vrksasana (Tree pose): From tadasana, bring your weight onto one side of your body. Lift one foot up and put it on your opposite ankle or thigh, but never your knee. Tuck your opposing side in so your hip isn't sticking out. Bring your palms to heart center or lift your arms up. Focus on something that is not moving in the room. Lift your navel. Make sure your toes are pointing forward. Repeat on the other side. This pose is good to do to remind you to invite balance into your lift and to be more playful. I like to play around with the arms, sometimes waving them around to test my balance and focus.
  • Balasana (Child's pose): From tabletop or downward-facing dog, sink hips back to your heels. Knees spread outward as you sit back. Bring your forehead to the floor or a block. Reach your arms forward and bring hands to the mat. I like for them to face up. Breathe into your back. Close your eyes. Soften the muscles in your face. This is a good time to set an intention for your day or practice. You can use a bolster under your chest or put a blanket under your knees for support. 

Watch a Recent At-Home Practice:








SAVASANA

  • Play wordless music that you would hear at a class. I also really love Native American flute music.
  • Use essential oil and dab a tiny bit on your third eye or inhale some of the fragrance. You can also mix it with base oil to create a massage oil. 
  • Lie down on your mat or a blanket. Move your arms outward with palms facing up. Let your feet fall outward equally. Make sure shoulders are resting on the mat evenly as well.
  • I then massage Graham's scalp, jawline, neck, shoulders, arms, and legs for about 10-15 minutes. He returns the favor so I can also take savasana. If you're on your own, you can massage your scalp, jawline and temples.
  • Get an awesome night's sleep!

Books to consider reading:


  • Light on Yoga, Sutra of Patanjali, by B.K.S. Iyengar
  • Bhagavad Gita, Anonymous
  • The Wisdom of Yoga: A Seeker's Guide to Extraordinary Living by Stephen Cope
  • Happy Yoga, by Steve Ross

Yoga Practice Shopping Ideas:



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