Monday, August 25, 2014

Seven Suggestions for Getting Started with your Home Practice

Ready for the home practice!  You have set an intention for a personal home yoga practice, created a space both within your home and within yourself, found a studio to regularly attend, now what?  The ambiguity of what to do is part of the journey as you learn to listen to your intention.  Still, I would like to offer several suggestions that will help one get started.

1. Start with stillness.  Before beginning to move through poses find a seated or restorative one (Child's Pose work well for this) and remain still for a time breathing, letting the mind/body shift into the here and now.  This grounds practice and sets the foundation for a yoga session saturated with mindfulness.

2. Breath. Begin to breath at first forgetting about any special technique.  Let the air flow in and out feeling the bodily sensations that this invokes.  Shift into victorious breathe in and out of the nose.  Hear the breathe and let this oceanic sound wash over the room.

3. Move.  Start to move without necessary plan letting the breathe guide you.  Let go and see where this takes you.  Often the body knows what it needs, follow this wisdom and you are into a practice.  Eventually, these movements will begin to shift into poses.

4. Sun Salutations. This traditional sequence of poses and all the variations surrounding them establish a fantastic template from which to move forward.  These poses that move from standing to the ground then back up create a ballistic stretch for the body  that stimulates the muscles and the heart.  One will awaken and revive after several of these sequences and discover that from here it is easy to transition into further poses.  Check out this link to help you get started with this set of poses.

5. Yin/Yang. It is important to practice both active and more passive poses.  This  will awaken then restore the body and mind.  Besides, the two sides of the practice compliment each other by furthering its complimentary.  For example, lunges develop leg strength then calf/hamstring stretches soften the same muscles bringing about a well balanced practice.

6. Go upside down.  See what happens when the head goes below the heart.  Don't worry everyone can do this.  Can't do an inversion yet?  Are you sure?  What about a full forward fold?  Bridge pose?  Downward dog?  These poses offer similar benefits.  Then, you can start a more traditional inversion process by doing poses against a wall and seeing what it's like to have this sensation.  Before you know it, confidence will grow and going upside down will become more and more accessible.  Trust the process

7. Savansana. Don't compromise and cut this pose out of your practice.  Learning to relax and be right there in the moment is essential.  In many ways, the goal of yoga is just that lesson.  All the poses before are basically getting one ready to take savasana.  Take the extra minutes and explore it.

You are ready!  Your practice is waiting.  Step on the mat and begin.


Yoga Trade Article:Thirty Days of Sun

All of you probably remember my road trip from Anchorage AK to Long Beach NY and back again, more importantly the Thirty Days of Sun Challenge that many of you participated in during the time of the summer solstice.  I wrote an article about this and Yoga Trade just posted it.  Check it out by following this link and let me know what you think.