There is much you can learn from a competent teacher, but yoga is also well suited to solo exploration. For some, finding classes that work with working out with groups is intimidating. Always keep in mind though, that whether you choose to study under a teacher in a group class or practice on your own using these blogs as a guide, yoga is an intensely personal discipline.
There’s no need to call in a carpenter to build you a home yoga studio. Your goal is to simply reserve a quiet space withing your home – a space in which to retreat for your yoga.
Make the World Go Away
The greatest challenge of practicing yoga on your own at home, rather than at a studio, lies in learning to shut out all the potential distractions. Your phone, computer, television and family
can prevent you from concentration. When practicing at home you therefore need to create a space in which you can block out those distractions. Designate a room or area where you will always practice. Make a schedule for time every day, five days a week. The great thing about yoga is that you don’t need a lot of space – just the length of your yoga mat. When traveling, you can pack your mat in your suitcase and roll it out whenever you are.
Yoga calls for very little equipment – just take a look at the increasingly popular outdoor yoga classes conducted in many parks. Students have little more than a towel and yoga mat, and sometimes participants perform directly on the grassy surface with no equipment at all.
To begin your home practice, you need only a cushioned surface on which to work. A thick towel, blanket, or rug will serve the purpose of protecting your back and joints during many seated and reclining poses, but purchasing a yoga mat is a wise decision – especially for standing and inverted poses that require you to shift your feet or hands. Relatively inexpensive, it quite different from a Pilates mat or a padded gym mat. A mat designed specifically for yoga is thin and sticky, so that you have traction to grip the floor with your hands and feet.
During your yoga session, you want to focus on your movements and your breath – not on whether your too snug waistband is digging into your stomach as you fold over in Wide-legged froward bend or if your too loose shirt is flapping over your face when you try a shoulder stand. These days, there are so many choices for yoga gear, but the key factor is ease of movement – look for comfortable form fitting tops and pants. Ones that do not restrict or interfere with your movement. Layering is also a good idea; for instance, wear a long sleeved hoodie over a tank top for your warm up session and then shed it as your core temperature rises during your practice. You can always slip it aback on during your cool down poses.
Yoga calls for no special foot gear – in fact, leave off the socks and shoes. Practicing in bare feet will help you ground your hands and feet into the floor.
Body awareness and Flexibility
We all have different levels of natural flexibility. Strength and Flexibility are two traits that as humans, we need to work on constantly. Don’t feel that you can’t take a yoga class or
begin working at home because you’re not flexible! This is why we call yoga a ‘practice’. Every one of us has a tendency toward either being more flexible or having tighter muscles, and in yoga you’re trying to find that balance between your strength and your flexibility. Your body and mind are constantly changing and evolving – every time you come to your mat, you will feel different than you did the last time you did yoga. That is what makes the yoga practice interesting. You may do the same poses time and time again, and yet each time you’ll find something new to work on. An advance practitioner is not necessarily someone who can come into the most challenging pose; being advanced is having the body awareness and control to work on each pose.
Here are some beginner-friendly yoga positions to help you ease into the awesome art of yoga.
1. Mountain Pose
Benefits: Improves posture, sense of center, mental clarity; solid breathing exercise
How to: Simply stand—feet hip-width apart, weight spread evenly—with your arms at your sides. Then breathe slowly and deeply at an even pace, keeping your neck aligned with the rest of your spine. You can move your hands and arms as you focus; some people take a prayer position or reach up to the sky for a stretch.
2. Downward Facing Dog
Benefits: Encourages full-body circulation; a great stretch for calves and heels
How to: Get on all fours with hands and knees shoulder-and-hips-width apart. Walk your hands forward and spread your fingers wide for stability. Curl your toes under
and carefully press your hips upward so your body looks like an inverted V with your knees slightly bent. You can get a stronger stretch by keeping your heels on the floor; “walk your dog” by alternately pressing your heels down.
3. Warrior Pose
7. Seated Twist
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