Crafting a Yoga Asana Practice at Home

Yoga is a very personal practice, and requires deep self exploration and reflection. It is a practice that requires consistent dedication.

Attending group classes is a good way to learn about the different poses in yoga, and is a good way to begin investigating the way that your body moves and the way that it reacts to different movements. At some point though, you may find that you want to develop a home practice – maybe the schedule at the local studio isn’t convenient, maybe the cost of attending as frequently as you would like is too high, or maybe you simply find that the movements you benefit from the most are not the ones being taught on a regular basis.

Often when I encourage students to practice something on their own at home, I will hear “Maybe, but I don’t really have enough space” or, “I’m just not sure where to start” or “I don’t really have all the right props and stuff at home.” The truth is, you only need a space that is roughly 3 feet x 6 feet, and you can use books, pillows and belts to recreate all of the same props used in a studio. That leaves us with where to start.

When I plan a class, I like to think of structuring it like the plot in a stand-alone book or movie (nothing with a sequel). There is an introduction to the topic, a slow build-up as characters are developed, something exciting happens and then everything winds to a close. In an asana class, we usually start with a grounding exercise (bringing us into the present), then some warming poses. There might be a peak pose, or challenging pose, and then there is a cool down period before rest.

In a book or a movie, if not enough time is given to the introduction and build up, the climactic part of the plot will not be satisfying, it will feel contrived and poorly planned. Ensure that you spend adequate time centring and warming up before moving into any of the “bigger” poses.

Before you begin, take a moment to think of some of your favourite movements. Classify them – in your mind or on paper – as grounding, warming, “big”, or cooling. Some poses may fit into more than one category. From there, start to build your class. Remember, you can always repeat movements, you can spend as long or as short an amount of time in each shape as you’d like, and it doesn’t have to be perfect. Your home class does not need to be exactly 60 or 90 minutes, and you don’t even need a “big” pose.

You can spend time simply breathing and stretching. As long as you are mindful and present while you are practicing, you will enjoy the benefits of your home practice. If you have any questions, or you would like a home practice designed for you, please feel free to get in touch!

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