Did your New Year's resolution fall by the wayside?
Well it's not too late to begin a new, empowering habit. A simple yoga practice could be just what you're looking for.
It doesn't matter how old you are or what kind of shape you're in. You can find the right program for you and modify it to your ability.
But a yoga studio might not be the answer. There are a number of reasons why yoga studios aren't for everybody.
On the other hand, practicing yoga from the comfort of your own home might be perfect for you. Whether you're a complete beginner or you've been practicing for years, you can easily make a home yoga practice work.
To help you get started, I've browsed the web for advice from some of the most popular yoga blogs and experts.
Your Home Yoga Practice
There's no right or wrong way to practice at home. But no matter what, it starts with your commitment to doing it.
That means finding the time. Kate Hanley writes in Yoga International about making time for your practice:
To build a consistent home practice, you need to carve out space for it—metaphorically as well as literally. Perhaps the biggest challenge is finding the time. In order for Pearce-Hayden to keep her home practice alive, she says, “I can’t allow myself to be swayed by the anxiety that nearly always pops up that I can’t afford to take any time away from getting things done.” Taking even a little bit of time to practice grounds you and inspires you, so that when you return to your to-do list, you are more focused and productive. “I’ve come to realize that when I give myself 10 or 15 minutes, the rest of my day feels more spacious,” she says.
This passage is from a longer article about beginning a home yoga practice. As you can see, even a brief window is all you need to get the benefits of practicing.
Now that you've made the time, you need to pick the right place. A quiet spot is essential. Esther Eckhart from Ekhart Yoga writes about it here:
Try and find a spot where it's peaceful and quiet, with as much space around you as possible. An empty piece of wall can be handy too since the wall is a great prop. If you like, it can be nice and even helpful to create some atmosphere with a candle or an incense stick.
Things like candles and incense are just extras, and by no means necessary to practise yoga. You can do yoga anywhere as long as you have enough space around you without the risk of bumping into tables, chairs, etc.
You may need at least one pice of equipment, though, and that is a yoga mat. Although you could achieve many postures without one, they help quite a bit and can even be found for cheap online.
Guided or Self-Directed?
After making time and space to practice, you need to decide what to do. As I said earlier, there's no rule here.
If you're a beginner, following an instructor will be necessary. Don't try to make it up as you go if you don't know any yoga poses.
You can watch all kinds of different yoga instructors on YouTube. Or you can get a more structured coaching program like the one we review here.
Once you become a little more advanced, you'll find a lot of benefit in doing a self-directed yoga flow. This is ideal since you may need different things from your practice at different times. As Meagan McCrary and Mary Jo Cameron write for Gaiam:
If you are fatigued, you may want to do a more restorative yoga sequence. If you're feeling energetic, a more flowing, fast-paced or rigorous set of yoga poses may feel more satisfying or help you channel that energy. Many like to do an energizing yoga practice in the morning and a calming restorative practice in the evening.
If you're used to taking classes from an instructor, a self-guided sequence might seem disorienting at first. But you'll quickly get used to it as a part of your practice.
What types of poses should you work into your practice? Here's what the article recommends later on:
Sun salutations are a time-efficient way of practicing yoga because they thread together poses that involve different parts of the body. Sun salutes are also commonly practiced as a warm-up, followed by standing poses such as Warrior I, II and II — and ending with forward bends, twists and restorative poses.
As you advance, you may want to move into more challenging intermediate and advanced yoga poses such as arm balances, inversions and backbends.
All in all, a home yoga practice is a great way to improve your health and enrich your life. The barrier to entry is low, so if you're not already doing it there's no reason you can't start today!