They day I started a home yoga practice, also known as 'Self Practice' is the day I had to. No other reason. And that day may be today for you, whether you realize it or not...
You see, I was transferred to London to help start business for my company, smack in the thick of my brand new discovery, and addiction to, yoga. I had just begun practicing yoga seven days a week, giving up running entirely, and never felt better. Then bam, I arrive in London, to a basement apartment ensconced in rain and gray clouds, without a yoga studio within thirty minutes, or a work schedule with decent hours. I was officially yoga-less, which to me, was suddenly a crisis. Yes, I could run along the Thames or in the Parks, but I now knew it never made me feel as good as yoga did. But how was I going to get to do daily yoga now?
I called my boyfriend back in NYC immensely stressed out about the activity that was supposed to relax me, and he said one thing, "Figure it out." I wish he could have seen my face on the other side of the phone thousands of miles away. But you know what, he was right.
They key to starting a self practice is in fact, figuring it out. And the key to figuring it out is a tiny bit of research, and from there trial and error.
Personally, I had been to enough yoga classes and had good enough memory, muscular and cerebral, to recall more or less the general structure of the classes I was attending. Between came the experimentation, which was naturally a series of trials, and errors. The end result was sweaty satisfaction. Maybe not perfect each time, but close enough to call a true practice of yoga, and ultimately even take me where I am today as a yoga teacher.
Given my experience, I wanted to share some tips for starting your Self Practice, no matter the why or the where.
- Stick to an overall structure with a beginning and an end. I would suggest SuryaNamaskar A (Sun Salutes) to start, and a closing sequence of paschimottanasana, getting your feet over your head in an inversion, and Savasana to end.
- Take 3 minutes to think about it on your way home. Let whatever comes to mind come to mind, whether it is a pose you like, a muscle or body part that aches, or something you want to try. Write it and anything else down between your two 'bookends’ (the beginning and end noted above) on a piece of paper or a mobile note so it is ingrained somewhere in your brain.
- Always include 2 standing postures, 1 balancing, 1 backbend, and 2 forward bends. Some examples of these are, in order, Warriors 1-3, Triangle, Tree, Wheel, Pigeon prep, and Paschimottansana.
- Make sure you breathe! Without breathing, through your nose, lips lightly touched, in Ujjai breath, it is not yoga, and it will not feel like yoga, just a trapped aerobics class on a mat.
- Link every inhale or exhale with a movement.
- Dedicate your practice to someone else. This was the key for me to locking in the yoga effect and feeling, and also why I have ingrained it in all I.AM.YOU. classes. It makes a difference.
If you need pose ideas or instructions, take a look at iamyoustudio.com/videos. For audio classes to follow along to, or the semi Self Practice that is many times even more fulfilling, download I.AM.YOU. classes at iTunes. I made these specifically because of the aforementioned London story!
Other than that, do not worry about ‘messing up,;’ just have fun!