Recently, I have discovered the true joy of practicing yoga in the privacy of my own home. My new appreciation is partly due to my recent separation from my husband. This experience has been one big emotional roller coaster ride, but I am certainly finding activities, such as yoga to help me through my grieving process.
Routinely, on Sunday mornings I like to attend a yoga class, but one Sunday morning, I woke up feeling sad, and didn’t feel like practicing in a class setting. Usually I am a very social person, and I enjoy the company of others, so I decided to keep my Sunday ritual, and rolled out my yoga mat at home.
Setting the stage for your private practice at home is important. I set the mood with my favorite music (Phish), light a few scented candles, and make sure I have a small space heater warming up my mat. I should mention that I am a certified yoga instructor, so if you are familiar with yoga you can give yourself a decent practice on your own. If you need a little help, here is a basic outline to follow for your own home practice.
Start out in a pose that is restorative, like Balasana (child’s pose), or in Supta Baddha Konasana (reclining bound angle pose) and start your Pranayama breathing.
Find your way into your first Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog). In my first downward dog, I like to slowly pedal through my feet, stretching out my calf muscles, then I begin to move through my first Sun Salutation A .
Depending how I feel, I repeat Sun A (below) as many times as I need or want; another great benefit to practicing on your own.
When I am ready to move forward into my practice, then I start to repeat Sun Salutation B. I Cycle through Sun B about three or four times, and I love to play around with the tempo in which I move through poses. This part of the yoga practice is the “warm-up phase” and is important because it allows you to focus on your breath and proper alignment.
The next part of the practice, I choose some poses that I find helpful for my own body. For example, poses that may assist in hip opening, chest openers, and hamstring strengthening/stretching poses, and etc. With the above focuses you can prepare a list of several yoga poses to practice on your mat.
When I am ready to switch gears, I then move into static or deeper stretching (static stretching is holding poses for 30 seconds to a minute). After, I make my way into final poses, like Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (bridge pose).
Or Urdhva Dhanurasana (full wheel), then into an inversion of your choice, like Salamba Sarvangasana (supported shoulder stand) or Salamba Sirsasana (supported headstand), and finally a few gentle body twists.
Lastly, make your way into the final pose named (corpse pose), Savasana for five to 10 minutes. I prefer more time in Savasana, because it usually takes me a few minutes or more to relax.
I close my practice by rolling to my right side, again spending a little time resting, then slowly and gently coming up to a seated lotus or modified lotus pose, still focusing on breath, and then I finish with my hands to my heart center with the traditional yoga closing, Namaste (I bow to you).
If you are not confident that you could give yourself a yoga class, other suggestions are to find a yoga DVD or online video that would serve your needs.
To find a yoga DVD, Google key words like beginner yoga DVD or yoga for athletes, etc. Another idea, is to think about a few poses that you feel you need to work on, try to practice with mindfulness (i.e. where is my foot placement, etc.). I find practicing different inversions at home is much easier than being in a class setting, unless I am taking a special arm balance/inversion workshop.
If you are unsure of how to do a pose, Google, “how to do…,” and plenty of instructions and YouTube videos will come up in your search.
Having the time at home to practice poses can really help you in advancing in your yoga practice. Yoga is not about what one can achieve, but rather, it’s about being present while practicing yoga with the intention paying attention to your body and mind! So, most importantly, set your intention before you begin your own practice at home and the rest will flow!
Laura Regna is a NASM certified personal trainer, since 2004, and a certified yoga instructor. She currently owns her own personal training business, Laura Regna Fitness, and has trained several elite athletes in pre-season conditioning. Laura earned her BFA in dance at SUNY Brockport in 1998, and in 2004, she obtained her MFA in dance. Currently, Laura performs in a modern dance company named BIODANCE, under the artistic direction of Missy Pfohl Smith, since 2006. You can follow Laura on Twitter, on Facebook, and on her website, lauraregnafitness.com.