How To Take Your Home Yoga Practice To The Next Level

Written by Karen Sherwood

When I’m teaching, I want my students to experience as many senses as possible, so I often have themes depending on the time of day, the energy in the room, or even the weather. In yoga, I believe experiencing every sense can make even a short practice more effective. Each sense represents another outlet to achieve sensation, and by simply using your environment and paying attention to every detail, you're by default practicing in the present moment.

I invite you to experience this for yourself and choose your own adventure by creating the atmosphere that’s right for you in the comfort of your home.

If you want to feel invigorated and alive, this is a great practice before heading to work:

Listen: Something uplifting will do the trick. I love Florence and the Machine, Rufus Wainwright, or David Gray.

Feel: Wear something that's cool to the touch. It should also make you feel sexy, or expose your favorite body parts. Breeze past those body parts with your hand as you move through the poses. Sexy means confidence, and confidence means energy.

Smell: Light a citrus candle like orange or grapefruit. Fresh mint and pine are also uplifting.

See: Open up the shades to let the sun in. If possible, practice out of the bedroom since it’s most associated with sleep.

Taste/nourishment (1 - 2 hours before): One carb and one protein for sustained energy and blood sugar levels. For example, you could eat a piece of fruit with almond butter, an egg, or a superfood smoothie.

Must-do Moves: Sun salutations, back bends and warrior poses all ignite determination, courage and inner fire.

If you want to feel focused and recharged, I would suggest trying this practice at about 12-1 p.m. to break up your day:

Listen: Go with standards that feature clear, distinct voices, like Frank Sinatra or Tony Bennett, followed by a savasana to a classical masterpiece.

Feel: Practice with the windows open so you can feel a breeze. If it’s too cold outside, turn on a fan and blow it just a little bit away from you.

Smell: Light an incense stick of cinnamon, jasmine, citrus or eucalyptus.

See: Be sure to clear the area of any distractions (like laundry on the floor or papers on your desk), and light one candle as a focal point. When your mind wanders, bring your eyes back to the candle.

Taste/nourishment: Immediately after your practice, eat something with a crunch. Try a handful of nuts or rice crackers, chewing slowly and paying attention to every bite. Meditating while chewing does wonders for the digestive tract, assimilation of nutrients and overall mood.

Must-do moves: Balancing poses like vriksha-asana (tree pose) and ardha-chandrasana (half-moon pose) help achieve focus and concentration. Side bends and heart-opening poses help redirect your energy, and help you stay open to communication.

If you want to feel calm and relaxed, this practice is perfect for the end of a long day:

Listen: Begin with some laid-back music for your practice, like The Weepies, Joni Mitchell, Citizen Cope, or Bob Dylan. To feel completely calm, I love soft piano or cello for savasana. Check out Zoe Keating’s “Sun Will Set” or “The Amber Field” by Tim Glemser

Feel: Wear a soft, loose pair of yoga pants and practice your sequence in a warm room

Smell: Rub lavender essential oils on your temples, shoulders or wherever your body feels tight and stuck, and breathe in and out softly through the nose.

See: Light a few candles several feet away so you can see them out of the corner of your eye, and dim the lights

Taste/nourishment: After your practice, enjoy a hot cup of herbal tea, or relaxing Buddha milk and then hit the sheets for a comfortable rest.

Must-do Moves: Forward folds, child’s pose, and restorative poses like supta baddha konasana, or a reclined twist. Focus on pranayama and with every exhale release more unwanted tension. Props like pillows and straps are great to help your body release at a deeper level.

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