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yoga mat review
beginning yoga, home yoga, practice space, preparation

Yoga Mat Review

November 6, 2017

Choosing a yoga mat can be confusing. A good review saves you time and makes it easier...

Don't you love it when you find a great shortcut? Well here's one for you. The good people at Reviews.com have just completed a seriously in-depth review of yoga mats, and it's the business!! If you are looking for a Yoga mat and don't know where to begin, you could do worse than their in-depth review, simply called, The Best Yoga Mat.

If you've never heard of Reviews.com check them out on their about page. They are in the business of providing good quality reviews that do all the hard work for you, and they are committed to what they do. In the case of their review of yoga mats their hard work has really paid off and will save you a lot of time and trouble. Aside from yoga mats, Reviews.com is one website you will want to check out next time you need to buy anything!

I never really paid much attention to yoga mats. The class I went to had mats for everyone to use, and at home I was fine just using the bedroom rug. Then I started Bikram yoga at home and, with the profuse sweating, the rug just didn't cut it any more. I needed a non-slip mat and towel, and the mats I had used in the past were a bit slippery.

Even though I had been practising for years, I was clueless when it came to choosing a yoga mat. There's more to it than you might think: How thick or thin? What material? What temperatures can it withstand? How long will it last? Does it smell? Is it durable? Is there a balance between the 'stick' factor and being able to glide between poses? Few of us will have had the experience to answer such questions for ourselves.

I bought a 6mm non-slip mat for Bikram Yoga at home, and it's fine because I use it with a towel. But one day for a light routine I just rolled out the mat and practised without the towel. The yoga mat became badly scratched just from my feet! So now I know it's not a durable mat and I feel disappointed. I wish this review had been available before!

This really is the most in-depth and informative review I have ever read. It was an education for me. If you're looking for a yoga mat check out "The Best Yoga Mat"  and save yourself some time, energy, and the cost of getting the wrong yoga mat and then having to replace it.

A big THANK YOU to everyone at Reviews.com for doing such a fantastic job!

 

 

 

easy yoga
beginners, beginning yoga, home yoga, lu jong

Easy Yoga -12 Minute Lu Jong

February 8, 2016

Lu Jong is an easy yoga practice that has great health benefits, yet takes only 12 minutes

"I practice yoga for 90 minutes every morning". Yeah, right. I would really want to be able to say that but, let's face it, for many of us it simply isn't realistic to make that kind of time commitment every day. Thankfully I discovered Lu Jong - an easy yoga that only takes 12 minutes. Twelve Minutes? Yup! Read on... 🙂

In reality, like many people, I spend long hours sitting at a desk, at a computer, and my body is getting stiffer and less flexible as the years go by. Two or three times a week I do get to fit in a full 90-minute routine, but on the days that I just can't find that time, all is not lost.

I was very fortunate some years ago, while on a visit to Arizona, to come across the Lu Jong Five Elements Movement taught by Tulku Lama Lobsang. For me it has been a life saver in terms of keeping my body healthy and active when I don't have time for a 90 minute routine, but don't misunderstand me - this easy yoga IS a complete practice in itself and if you practice this each day you really don't need anything else.

It is an easy yoga to learn and you can do it in about 12 minutes. It's just great have something so effective, in terms of it's ability to maintain core strength and flexiblity, that doesn't require a huge investment of time.

At periods throughout the day it is so helpful to be able to stand away from the desk and practice an easy yoga for just 12 minutes (12 is recommended as ideal... if you're only taking 10 minutes you may be doing it too fast).

Don't be fooled by it's ease, simplicity and short duration - it is still an extremely effective yoga practice. I have had days where I feel as though I'm getting a cold, but (as with other forms of yoga) if I simply do the Lu Jong routine I can feel the channels opening up, and the energy shift. Nine times out of ten the 'cold' doesn't really take hold. 12 minutes to get rid of a cold? Can't be bad!

What I love most about this routine is that you don't need any special equipment and it doesn't take up as much space as a floor routine. I'm glad I learned it because it can be practiced practically anywhere at any time and is a great support to my longer more in-depth practice. This easy yoga is perfect for those of us who are practising yoga at home. To learn more check out the video below and visit their website at LuJong.org

 

The full training DVD can be purchased HERE

yoga social network
connection, home yoga club

What would you want in a yoga social network?

January 11, 2016

Before we open our doors I have a quick question: What would YOU like to see in a yoga social network?

So... on a whim...  I had this idea to start an online yoga 'studio'.

You know... a place where people who do yoga at home can meet other people, connect, and get all the 'social' benefits that you'd normally get from a real, tangible, yoga studio...

Like meeting other people, talking, listening, sharing practice tips and information, and /or a joke or two... and health tips... and just basically... well... connecting.

I suppose what we're really talking about is a yoga social network - a bit like Facebook only for yoga people. But there's good and bad in every social network.

What would be awesome would be to create something that people really love and want to engage with, but something that doesn't add any more hassle to our already overly busy, information-packed lives!

This is where you can help. At this point your suggestions and comments can really help our new yoga social network to take shape... so whaddya think?

What would you want or expect to see in an online yoga studio?

Based on your experience of other social networks...

What would you really love to see?

What would you hate to see?

How important is it to be able to 'like', share, comment, tag... etc. What features do you really enjoy, and what are your pet hates?

Be as specific as possible (without naming names or disrespecting anyone of course. Keep it related to your own experience... what experiences would you enjoy? What experiences would you not want to repeat?

I imagine we can build an environment that is friendly, supportive and helpful... but is that what you want? Am I missing something?

Add your comments and below... I'd LOVE to hear from you!

..and if you add your name to the mailing list I'll keep you in the loop with our ongoing progress!

best wishes,

Ruth 🙂

living-yoga
home yoga, inner peace

Living Yoga

December 1, 2015

When we start living yoga, it's not so much that yoga becomes our whole life, but rather we realize that our ordinary, everyday, stressed-out and filled-with-daily-challenges life... IS yoga!

Okay it's confession time. I really haven't done much yoga for about three weeks now. And that's okay. It has to be okay because it's simply how it is, and I could make matters worse by stressing that I haven't had the time lately to get on my yoga mat, but I prefer to relax in the moment, be at ease with 'what is' and remember those sage words of Vanda Scaravelli who said:

"There is beauty in the acceptance of what is"

Now, when I say I haven't done much yoga for the past three weeks, what I mean is that I haven't been on the yoga mat doing my usual routine (which at the moment is the twenty-six postures of the Bikram method) but what I have been doing, is being more present and aware in each moment.

If we can do that... if we can remain present with ourselves no matter what is happening then we are doing yoga. In fact we're doing yoga in it's most fundamental sense of 'union' - of being 'at one' with life itself and all that presents. We're really living yoga.

Too Busy For Yoga

In doing that I noticed a kind of cycle which I suspect could reflect many cycles of life. About three weeks ago, for one reason or another, I just had a really busy spell. There wasn't much time for anything let alone a full 90-minute Bikram workout. Added to that I was feeling really tired and found myself needing to sleep for about 8 hours.

To create time for an early morning 90-minute yoga practice I usually only sleep for 6 hours. So I found myself sleeping longer, and cutting down on yoga. It came down to about an hour, then dropped from Bikram to a few days of Lu-Jong (which takes about 15 minutes). Then stopped altogether. One or two days I went for a walk just to move the body which was now feeling restless and objecting to spending at least 12 hours sitting at a desk!

An Agitated Ego Losing Control

I was also feeling mentally agitated and more than a tad guilty as my mind filled with judgements like, I was 'letting myself go' and other such nonsense (it really is nonsense - any idea that you are 'letting yourself go' is just part of the ego's fantasy that it was in control in the first place)! I (or I should say my ego) was experiencing anger at 'losing control' of the situation, resentment at the lack of 'me time', and of course all topped off with liberal helpings of guilt.

This all built to a head where I had an argument with a friend and realized I was falling back into some very old passive-aggressive patterns again. This caused me to take a long, hard look at myself, and how much I'd been trying to hold on to my idea of how things ought to be. I dropped everything and did some long meditation practice where I focused on letting go. My mind became clearer, and my body felt calmer.

Emerging Calm

Then as I went about the business of the day, I began accepting what is, and simply being more present. My mind and body began to relax no matter what was going on. The tension began to leave and I found myself being more clear and present in each moment - dealing with whatever arose - without the stress. I found myself just being with it.

I started waking up earlier. Maybe my quality of sleep was better because I was more relaxed, and so I needed less sleep. I started doing just 10 minutes of Lu-Jong before getting into my day, and making sure I took a break at some point to go and walk in the park in silence (a walking meditation).

Living Yoga

This morning I woke early - got the yoga mat out and did a half-Bikram routine (just one set for each pose). Yayy! Already my ego-mind is wanting to take control and 'plan' that I'll soon be back in full swing and reaching my 'goal' of being able to do all poses like an ace. But we'll see.

The key to living yoga lies in balancing the reality of our life with how our ego would like it to be! On the mat we know the key to going deeper is to flow into each pose, simply being with the body as it is in the moment. When we transfer that principle off the mat and into our life, where we can flow with life, really being with it as it is, rather than pushing against it, then we are really living yoga!

I'd love to hear your comments below - have you noticed yoga flowing off the mat and into your own life?

find time
beginners, beginning yoga, home yoga, preparation

Find Time

November 24, 2015

Some quick tips to help you find time for yoga practice in a busy day

In our busy hectic world, time is probably our most precious commodity. We never seem to have enough of it, and we can't find it when we need it. Yet if we really want to make yoga a part of our life, we have to somehow find time to make it happen. Here are some ideas...

 

Identify and eliminate low value activity

When we're busy and overwhelmed that's when we might find ourselves tempted to just 'chill out' in front of the TV,  yet watching TV may be draining your energy and makes you feel more tired. Turning off your TV and practising yoga for 30 minutes instead can restore your energy.

Early Evening

When we first get through the door after a busy day, immediately doing a 20 minute yoga workout might be  the last thing on your mind.  Yet it might actually be the best thing! Your body is still active from the day, you probably haven't eaten for a while, and even though you may be feeling tired you still have some energy. Practising yoga at this point before you even start thinking about dinner (or maybe while dinner is cooking) can rejuvenate you and give you more energy to enjoy your evening.

Streamline everything - even your yoga practice

The purpose of yoga is to settle the mind into silence - so starting with a brief breathing exercise where you focus all of your attention on you breath can quickly bring you into a yoga mindset.

Early Morning

This might be the best place to find time for yoga. Our bodies are amazing at regulating themselves, which means we tend to wake around the same time every day - once we are in a routine.

You can train your body to wake up earlier by using an alarm clock at first.  It takes about 21 days for our body to adapt to a new habit (or lose an old one). With time you will notice that you naturally start waking before the alarm.

Avoid Thinking

The trick here is to get up and do your yoga practice without thinking about it! If you start thinking about how early it is, or how little sleep you've had, you will start feeling tired and sabotage all your hard work. Moving quickly into action is the key to success.

Thinking can also lead to procrastination - which wastes precious time that you don't have!

My favorite is early morning - that's when I am less distracted and my mind is quieter before the business of the day gets my attention.

Use the comments below to share some of the ways you have found time for yoga...

 

 

 

keep it going
beginning yoga, home yoga

Keep It Going Beyond 3 Months

November 19, 2015

Once you've started your home yoga practice your next challenge is to keep it going!

 

Most people think the hardest thing about practicing yoga at home to getting started. It's true that a lot of people talk about doing yoga at home and never find the time to get around to it, but once you've started you then have the challenge of keeping it going.

At first your excitement and enthusiasm keeps you going. Your interest levels are high, you have probably spent a lot of time watching videos, reading, and getting fired up.

This initial excitement and enthusiasm keeps us going for about 2 months. Then reality sets in. Yes, you do feel a bit better and are starting to notice how much fitter you are.

I once read somewhere that in our learning,  growth and development many of us hit a wall at around three months. (If you know or remember where this idea comes from I'd love if you would remind me in the comments).

This idea of a three-month turning point seems to be true, in my experience. At around three months, our initial enthusiasm has waned and our 'old life' is starting to creep back in around the edges. All the other activities of life that we re-arranged, re-scheduled or deferred in order to make room for our yoga practice start demanding more and more of our time and attention.

At three months there seems to be a major review of our life: if our yoga practice is going to become a permanent feature, then something has to give. We are forced to confront all our stuff, which probably includes all the reasons we never got around to doing anything about it before!

As someone who has practiced yoga at home for over 15 years, I am very familiar with this three month spot (every time I begin a new routine or a different form of yoga, it comes around again).

I wouldn't exactly say it's 'make or break' time. For me it is about realizing I can't do everything. It is time for a reality check and a choice: what am I willing to let go of, to make room for something else in my life?

How about you? Have you noticed anything happening around the three month mark? If so what do you do to get up, over, around or through it?

yoga class
home yoga

8 Things You Won’t See In A Yoga Class!

November 17, 2015

There are many reasons we do yoga at home, including the freedom to do all the things we probably couldn't (or shouldn't) do in a yoga class!

 

Today the funniest thing happened… I ‘forgot’ to do 4 poses! As I got to #24 in my usual sequence I thought "hang on… I don’t remember doing cobra (#16)". As it turned out I hadn’t done locust (#17), full locust (#18) or bow pose (#19) either.  THAT wouldn’t happen in a yoga class!

So I wondered what might be some other things that we do at home but we wouldn't normally do in a class. You could also try these in your yoga class just to see what happens (disclaimer: I take no responsibility if you do)...

#1 Forgetting A Whole Range of Poses

Yup... in a yoga class your teacher will be right there keeping you on track. Next!

 

#2 Make Footprints in Your Yoga Mat

I love doing this! If you have one of those memory foam yoga mats you can walk around making footprints in your mat too!

 

#3 Practice In Your Underwear

One of the advantages of home yoga is that you don't need to worry about what to wear - you can practice in your underwear if you want to.

 

#4 Practice Naked

Well it was the next logical step ... you don't even need underwear, you can practice naked if you like. If you DO see this in a yoga class you have probably strayed into your local naturist society - before you begin check that it really IS a yoga class!

 

#5 Wherever You Be Let Your Wind Go Free

(Thank you to my late friend Lyn for that beautiful expression) When you practice at home you don't need to worry about any embarrassing bottom noises when you're in wind-relieving pose (or any other pose for that matter)!  You are free to let your body function as it was meant to, without suppressing anything!

 

#6 Scream, Shout, Sing!

On the subject of noise... while the purpose of yoga is settling the mind into silence, sometimes a cathartic release can help. If you're having a frustrating time, at least at home you have the freedom to scream, shout, sing, and release your frustration in any way you so choose!

 

#7 Go To Sleep

If (like me) you practice first thing in the morning... then it won't be long before you figure out that by NOT doing yoga you can roll over and go back to sleep for another hour or so.... (You could call this the yoga of sleep or something).

Actually you do sometimes see this at the end of a class is someone nods off in corpse pose.

#8 Meditate

You don't see much meditation happening in yoga classes and even when you do it's only for short periods. One of the biggest advantages of practicing yoga at home is that at the end of your practice you can settle into a meditation for longer periods of time without having to pack up and leave!

Well this post started as a bit of fun but I'm serious about the meditation - that's the best bit!

What are some of the things you love to do in your home yoga practice that you couldn't (or wouldn't) do in a class? Let me know in the comments below!

 

the memaning of yoga
inner peace, spiritual practice, stillness

The Meaning of Yoga

November 11, 2015

Even though we might approach yoga for health benefits, originally the meaning of yoga has a more spiritual purpose

In recent times yoga has become popular throughout the Western world as a form of exercise and for it's potential health benefits, but keeping us fit and healthy are actually spin-off benefits of yoga and are not it's underlying purpose. Originally the meaning of yoga was to awaken us to our true nature (what we might think of as spiritual awakening) and this is still it's underlying purpose.

Yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning 'union' or 'yoking together'1  however what most of us understand by the term yoga is a system of physical techniques that originated in India and has since become popular worldwide. The most commonly known form of yoga in the West is probably Hatha Yoga, although there are other forms such as the Tibetan Yoga known as Yantra Yoga.

So if yoga means 'union' what is it exactly that is being 'united'? Our mind, body and spirit. Through yoga practice we cultivate awareness and increasingly become more present to our total experience.

In our everyday lives we tend to think of ourselves as separate from nature, and each other. We even tend to think of our own body and mind, heart and soul, personality and spirit etc. as separate things yet in essence they aren't really separate at all.

 

"Yoga is the settling of the mind into silence." - Patanjali, 200-150BCE

 

As we go about our daily business, our busy 'monkey mind' rushes here and there, grasping at this and that, always seeking the next thing to entertain and/or amuse itself. This creates an illusion of separation. Through our yoga practice this mind calms down and becomes more still.

In that stillness and silence we are able to observe how our mind works. How our thoughts rise and fall and, more importantly, that this all takes place within a background 'awareness' or presence. We notice that our 'presence' remains in the stillness (even when we are not thinking) and that this presence is a continuous thread in everything we do.

 

"Yoga is a Sanskrit word that in Tibetan is rendered as naljor. Yoga originally means ‘union’, but naljor really means knowledge of the primordial condition." - Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, Yantra Yoga Master

 

As we place more of our attention on our presence, eventually we realize, that it is what connects us, and everything. We notice that all our thoughts arise from this presence and fall back into it. Yoga is the realization that this 'presence' is who we are. It is the universal mind of oneness. When we realize that our awareness, or presence, permeates everything then we are whole.

When we see how everything was connected all along then we realize that 'union' was there all along, we just needed to become still in order to see it! The deeper meaning of yoga is the realization of being one with all that we do.

 

 

See Yoga at http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=yoga&searchmode=none

yoga-at-home
beginners, beginning yoga, home yoga, preparation

Yoga At Home: 12 Essential Tips Before You Start

November 4, 2015

Twelve essential tips for learning yoga at home

 

Learning yoga at any time can feel daunting, and especially if you are learning at home. These 12 tips will help you to prepare so that you can feel confident to start practicing yoga at home.

 

Bonus: download a handy free 12-point checklist to easily track your progress.

 

1. Breathe Easy and Naturally

"One often sees students holding their breath while performing a difficult pose. This is counter-productive and fundamentally wrong because it blocks the lovely movement, while the expansion of the lungs in connection with the spine is in action." - Vanda Scaravelli, Awakening The Spine

Get your breathing right and everything else will fall into place. As pioneering yogini Vanda Scaravelli points out in her book "Awakening The Spine", yoga students often hold their breath yet the vital 'prana' (the life force energy that supports, energizes, and heals your body) is carried on the breath. For your yoga to be effective you need your breath!

So how should you breathe? In an article for "Women's Health" magazine, Andrew Taber gives this simple yet wise advice for all beginners (not just women):

"A quick lesson on breathing: Inhale and exhale through your nose during the entire workout, keeping a smooth, controlled rhythm. Your breaths should last slightly longer than each component of a yoga pose."

Tip: breathe as easily and naturally as possible. Don't worry if you can't do long breaths at first. Inhale and exhale as you need to, and your breath will naturally deepen as your practice grows.

 

2. Prepare Thoroughly

To ensure your practice goes smoothly and safely, prepare by informing yourself about what is involved, what challenges you can expect, and how you may overcome them.

This clear and simple article on WikiHow covers the basic steps of how to "Do Yoga At Home" very thoroughly. Don't be deceived by it's simplicity, it is written by numerous well-qualified contributors and is actually an excellent foundation for anyone considering practicing yoga at home. Keep it handy as you start practicing!

They suggest you prepare by:

  • visiting a class
  • watching beginner videos
  • doing online research
  • being aware of challenges
  • setting goals for your practice
  • gathering the equipment you'll need
  • planning how often you want to practice
  • making time for yourself
  • choosing a comfortable space to practice, and
  • 'sequencing' - choosing and putting together your planned sequence of poses

 

You can read more in these two earlier blog posts about physical preparation and mental preparation.

Tip: Be organized as you gather your information. You'll realize there is a lot 'out there' so have some way to either make notes or bookmark your favorites, because you'll want to refer to them often, especially at the beginning. In particular you'll want to watch favorite YouTube videos over and over until you know the pose well, so make sure you save them somewhere!

 

3. Sequencing (choosing your sequence of poses)

I didn't know anything about sequencing when I first started and chances are as a beginner you probably won't either. This is where it really helps to follow a prescribed sequence in a beginner video.

A good yoga sequence usually begins with warm ups: sun salutations for example, followed by a combination of forward bends, backbends, 'inversions' (some version of being upside down - like a head or shoulder stand, or downward facing dog), and twists (not necessarily in that order). Not to forget the all-important savasana (corpse pose).

Savasana is extremely important because yoga is actually not so much a system of stretching as it is a system of stretching, constricting and then relaxing. It is in the relaxation that your circulation returns to normal and your blood flows back into parts of your body that you'd long forgotten about. It is in Savasana that healing happens.

Tip: Don't skip Savasana.

 

4. Watch Beginner Videos

Never before has so much great information been so freely available. Thank you to the kind and generous yoga teachers who share their wisdom and knowledge with us through platforms such as YouTube. One thing I've noticed about advanced yoga practitioners though, is that they sometimes forget what it feels like to be an absolute beginner. Some 'beginners' videos are actually quite advanced and don't take into account people whose levels of fitness are very poor to begin with.

In contrast Adriene Mishler's "Yoga For Complete Beginners - 20 Minute Home Yoga Workout" has received over 4.5 million hits on YouTube, and it's no surprise why. It is a very gentle and relatively easy sequence and, with Adriene's clear and simple instruction, beginners at most fitness levels should be able to follow along with no problem. If you are of average fitness and have never tried yoga before, this could be a great starting point for you.

Watch Adriene's 20 minute Home Yoga Workout for beginners:

If you find that your movement is too limited for Adriene's video, or you can't get down to the floor for whatever reason, you might consider a gentle chair yoga.

Sherry Zak Morris leads a weekly chair yoga class for seniors, which is also suitable for people who have arthritis, obesity or other limiting medical conditions. Her YouTube video "Actively Aging with Energizing Chair Yoga" is 33 minutes long and should suit most fitness levels.

Watch a full Chair Yoga workout with Sherry Zak Morris:

A word of caution about YouTube videos for learning: anyone can post a YouTube video. So it pays to do a little background checking before following a routine to make sure you are practicing a genuine form of yoga, and practicing in the correct way so you don't injure yourself.

You can also check that the teacher is a qualified yoga teacher (for example, for each of the above videos you can go to the teachers website, see what other classes they offer and which yoga studios they are affiliated with).

In addition to YouTube you can find various online video tutorials from qualified teachers. Here are some examples:

Yoga tutorials at DoYogaWithMe.com

Yoga classes at Udemy.com

Yoga classes at GaiamTV

Tip: Watch the videos on your TV, or have your tablet, smartphone or computer within reach so you can pause often, especially at first!  You may want to pause, rewind and repeat over and over so you can really get clear on the instruction.

 

5. Include Poses That Cultivate Strength and Flexibility

In the beginning your biggest challenges will be a lack of strength to be able to hold poses for any amount of time, and a lack of flexibility to bend and/or stretch into a pose. All of this comes with time and patience, but you can speed things up a little by focusing specifically on poses that will build your strength and flexibility in the beginning.

The editors at FITNESS magazine propose the following twelve poses for building strength and flexibility:

  • mountain pose
  • downward facing dog
  • warrior II
  • tree pose
  • bridge pose
  • triangle pose
  • seated twist
  • cobra
  • pigeon pose
  • crow pose
  • child's pose

Read the full article and see pictures at http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/workout/yoga/poses/beginner-yoga-poses/?page=1

Most yoga routines that have been designed for beginners by a qualified teacher will include some of these poses.

 

6. Create Space

Choose a clean, clear, quiet, comfortable space for your yoga practice where you have room to stretch in all directions (when both standing and lying down), and where there are few (or preferably no) distractions.

If possible use the same space every day, whether you have a designated yoga room in your home, or just a room that you can use on a regular basis.  The reason for this is because the space you practice in begins to be 'conditioned' by your intentions, and you'll find it easier with time to settle into your quiet space inside, and your yoga practice.

If you do have room to create your own designated yoga space there is lots of help online to get you started. Here are just a couple of great articles to give you some ideas:

A Room of One's OM: Creating Space For Your Practice by Sherise Dorf at Yoga Journal

Creating a Low-Budget Home Yoga Studio  by Steve Graham at Care2.com

In addition to your physical space, you'll want to create space in your day if your yoga practice is going to actually happen. It's different for everyone but sometimes early morning can be a good time to give you an infusion of joy and energy to propel you through your day. Others prefer an early evening workout (before dinner) to refresh and rejuvenate you, after a busy work day. Once again keeping to the same time every day can support you in settling into the practice. Your mind will soon learn that this is 'quiet time' and you'll find it easier to remain quiet inside than at other times of the day.

With practice you'll discover which time works best for you, but it is important that you clear the space in your schedule and make time for you, if a regular yoga practice is going to get off your 'wish list' and become a living reality.

 

7. Choose Your Equipment

If the room you practice in has a thick carpet, that may be all you need, but bear in mind that over time (with sweating) your carpet can begin to smell (yuk)! So although you don't always need one to begin with, you might decide to invest in a quality yoga mat. A good yoga mat should ideally be non-slip, and if you have any problems with your knees you might find an extra thick mat to be a blessed relief (just sharing a little personal experience here)!

Yoga Mat and Towel

For a long time I practiced on a thick rug that I just rolled out of the way during the day, which was fine for a while but when I started doing Bikram Yoga the profuse sweating prompted me to invest in a non-slip yoga mat by Fitness We Trust and a Susama yoga towel. I purchased the 6mm mat with thick 'memory' foam, which my knees love although making footprints in the mat has now become one of my favorite practice distractions!

Yoga Props

To support you in some poses you may want to use props like blocks, or a yoga belt. You need to be cautious in their use - props are meant as a gentle support and should never be used to 'force' your body into a position before it is ready. Your training video or teacher will tell you how best to use these. The only prop I use is a Dragonfly yoga belt to help flex my leg in preparation for standing bow pulling pose. There is a lot of support out there, and it is easier than ever to connect with people. If you are unsure how to use a particular prop don't hesitate to send an email to a yoga instructor, or connect through social media, and ask for clarification.

Tip: Wash your yoga mat in warm soapy water before use. Sometimes your non-slip mat will feel slippy when new. After a wash to remove any manufacturing and/or shipping residue it will feel truly non-slip.

 

8. Get Into a Routine.

Once something becomes part of your routine it becomes easy, like brushing your teeth. Whether you practice once a week, several times a week or every day, making your yoga practice part of your regular routine will make it much easier for you to keep going.

Tip: Don't think - just do it (hmm... where have I heard that before).

 

9. Practice Regularly

The benefits of yoga are cumulative which means you'll see the most progress and reap the greatest rewards if you practice consistently. Whether that be weekly or daily, it is consistency that builds momentum and gets results.

 

10. Prevent Injury by Listening to Your Body

Warm Up First

There are some practical things you can do to prevent injury, namely always practice in a warm room and (just like any exercise) always warm up first. This ensures your muscles are warm, relaxed, and more flexible.  Always practice on an empty stomach and never have a heavy meal just before your yoga practice (opinions vary between allowing 1-3 hours after eating before yoga).

Understand What You Are Doing... and Why

Make sure that you have studied and understood the requirements of each pose by attending a class, reading books and watching beginner videos. It is much easier to pay attention and monitor yourself if you know what you are supposed to be doing, and what the purpose of each pose is. After watching a pose tutorial video (and before you begin a routine), make sure you watch any supporting videos and read books that tell you exactly what each pose in your routine is supposed to achieve, and how you should be doing it, based on your level of fitness.

Be Aware

What sets yoga aside apart from exercise, is that real yoga is the art of listening to yourself. It is not about 'doing' poses, but more about listening to your body and mind. Aside from the practical considerations above, your best insurance against injury (and your only guarantee) is... you. Or to be more accurate, your awareness. If your mind wanders that is when you are most likely to injure yourself, by not paying attention. You must stay alert, aware and attentive to your body's needs at all times throughout your practice.

Don't Push Yourself

"Don't push it don't force it, let it happen naturally. It will surely happen if it is meant to be!" - Leon Haywood

You are the expert on you and your body. Never push yourself. No matter how experienced a yoga teacher is, no matter if they have a lifetime of experience, they do not know your body better than you. Someone who learned yoga at age 4 and has stayed above average fitness their whole life, is never going to know what it feels like to be a beginner aged 40 plus, with weak muscles weighing over 300 pounds. Never be pushed into going farther than you feel comfortable.

You are your own best judge. You, and only you, can call the shots as to how deep you can go into a pose, how long to hold a pose, and how long to rest in between poses. Why? Because only you know how you feel.

Be Discerning: Is This Normal Stretching or Injury Pain?

Cultivating greater degrees of sensitivity, awareness and discernment is something that happens over time in your yoga practice. You will get better at listening to your body the more you practice. This can be one of the greatest benefits of practicing yoga at home. Because you don't have the distractions of a yoga class, it is easier to pay attention to you and notice subtle variations in how you feel.

With time you will develop the very important skill of discernment: knowing the difference between the normal degree of discomfort that can come with a 'good stretch', and knowing when to pull back because your body is hurting in a way that indicates an injury could be imminent. This is a skill that only comes with time, experience, and attentiveness. If in doubt always err on the side of caution.

 

Don't Rush

Take as long as you need going into a pose. Keep paying attention. Notice how you feel and slowly, slowly, come out of a pose. Don't 'collapse', 'fall', or jump out of a pose too quickly or you could easily pop a muscle or ligament. It is important to take your time and remain fully focused throughout each stage of a pose, and throughout your whole sequence.

Be At Peace

Real yoga works with your body - not against it. Your body is not your enemy. Yoga is a path of gentleness and beauty, not violence. Look to some of the older yogi's and yogini's as role models to aspire to. Look at their gentleness and beauty. That arises from within. It can't be imposed from the outside.

 

Watch this 2-minute video about Tao Porchon-Lynch who has been named Guinness World Records' oldest yoga teacher:

Patience

Progress comes with time, gentleness, and patience. As a beginner it can be tough watching more experienced yogis twist like a pretzel when you can hardly raise your arms in the air, but all results happen in good time. It is worth waiting for. Patience is your best friend in yoga.

Tip: check in on yourself regularly to make sure you are fully present and aware. If your mind is wandering bring your attention back to your breath.

 

11. Get a Yoga Buddy.

One of the upsides about practicing yoga at home is that you can be alone. You can enjoy solitude and your busy, everyday, monkey-mind can settle into silence  faster. One of the downsides about practicing at home is that you can miss out on making friends, and a sense of community and shared purpose.

In a physical yoga studio you would meet other people at your own level. Hang out. Share experiences and pass on tips.

At home this can be missing but there are ways that you can re-create this for yourself by:

  • joining an online community
  • going to a local class once or twice a month just to check in and stay in touch
  • partnering with a friend who also practices yoga at home so you can be yoga buddies and share experiences
  • join our online home yoga studio and connect with a community of people practicing yoga at home

Having this kind of support for yourself, where you can learn from others, share experiences and get tips can be a lifeline for your practice.

 

12. Love Yoga - Love Yourself

The bottom line is that if you really want to have a successful home yoga practice (and by 'successful' I mean that you continue to practice for the rest of your life, as a lifestyle) then it has to be an enjoyable experience! The more you make this enjoyable and beneficial the more you will want to continue.

At first you will be focused on thinking a lot as you learn poses, and check if you are doing them correctly. This means your mind will be busy. You will also definitely feel the workout in your body, if you haven't developed your core strength yet. So you may feel tired too.

Once through this initial stage, as you are more confident in the postures, your mind and body will begin to relax. This is when you can allow your awareness to focus on the energy flowing through your body. Most exercise uses up your energy. When done correctly, yoga actually gives you more energy. As your practice develops your energy channels open, and you can feel more energy flowing into your body as you practice.

The more you keep your attention on this energy, the more it flows and grows. You may often feel more energy at the end of a yoga session than you had at the beginning. You may even notice how much your body loves how this energy feels.

Practicing home yoga is an act of love. Pretty soon your body will look forward to it's daily dose of loving care and attention, from you. When you imbue your practice with the energy of love, you reduce the risk of injury, and increase the healing benefits of yoga.

That might seem a lot of information (and it is) but take it one step at a time and it will all come together.

Enjoy practicing yoga at home and above all, be kind to your body and mind!

 

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