10 tips to get (back) on the mat

5 tips to start home practiceop

Driving to get on time in the studio, remembering to bring all your accessories, parking and paying to exercise, and then fighting for space amid the after-work crowd, can really suck all the Zen-like experience out of your yoga practice. Instead, you can do yoga in the comfort of your home, any time you want.

I’m sure you all wish you could practice yoga regularly and with such ease like those fit people you see on videos and in real life. And it’s really not that hard as it probably seems at beginning. You just need to stop looking for excuses, and start practicing. Here are five tips to prepare:

1 – Accept where you are

Whether you are new to yoga, or returning, there will be moments when you curse your body, would like a transplant for your mind, become heavy with emotion… and the go may cringe or try to distract you!   Life will happen, there will be other priorities like sick kids, aging parents and your own stages of life.  Embrace yoga as the constant companion, and allow yourself the practice you need, rather than the one you think you should have.

Find out more about how to pick the right practice for any state of body and mind,here.

2 – Settle in for the ride

Will power is the choice for who/where you want in six months, rather than what you are craving today.  When you cannot be bothered to get on your mat, remind yourself of your intention.  Visualise yourself having already achieved it.  Where will you be, what will you see, smell, taste and hear?  Is there anyone else there?  What are you wearing (anyhting?!).  How do you feel?  What sensation will you have in your body?  Use any or all of these to remind yourself that now is a moment to experience, but not the place to get stuck.  NEVER GIVE UP!

3 – Create a comfortable space in your home where you can practice

It would be awesome if you could dedicate a whole room to your yoga practice; seeing the mat unrolled on the floor can be really inviting. But this is never mandatory. What you actually need is a clean, peaceful and quiet spot in your home, with enough room for your mat and fluid movements so you won’t bump into tables, chairs and the rest of your furniture. Light up a candle or an incense stick if you like to stimulate your senses.  Put some flowers on a nearby table and a gorgeous framed picture that makes you happy to look at.  Heat the room if it is cold.  The more inviting the space, the more you will return to it.

4 – No practice is too short

Its a pathology of modern life that we are always striving for more.  Its not unusual to feel burnt out from the seemingly endless tasks of family, work and home.  When is left for you?  Just allowing 10 or more minutes a day can help to heal your body and allow it the recuperation it needs to serve you best.  You may have life aspiration, but no one is going to take care of your for you.  Love yourself and enjoy a short practice daily.

5 – Pick the best time for your daily yoga routine

Starting the day with yoga will keep your energy levels high, but practicing in the evenings can help you relax your mind and release the tension and stress collected during the day. It’s not that important when you will do yoga, but to be regular. Choose the time that seems most convenient for you, and try to stick with it. If you always practice around the same time your brain will start desiring regular yoga practice, and plus it will already be part of your tight schedule, so that can’t be an excuse to skip it.

6 – Have your accessories on hand

Like with space, – you can buy all the tools there are for practicing yoga, but you should never forget that it is your conscious commitment that counts the most. So better invest more in a quality yoga mat, preferably non-slip, or even organic to be friendly to the environment, and replace blocks with books, the bolster with pillows, and the strap with some old scarf. However, before starting your home yoga practice make sure to have them all on hand.

7 - Enjoy the poses you love whilst trying the ones you don’t!

There’s no perfect class. Stop looking for it. Instead, listen to your body and mind and pick a program or style that best suit you for the day. You can also build a practice at home selecting two yoga poses you love, and one you would rather skip. This way you won’t push yourself too much, but still work on making your body and mind stronger.  What’s more important is to be fully present and aware while practicing, which will lead you to better understanding of different poses, their effects, and yours true needs.

8 – Keep it Fresh!

Try different ways of practicing.  Never tried restorative?  Give it a go.  Haven’t got a bolster?  Get one and try all the bolster poses!  Invite a friend over for yoga.  Go out into nature for a few sun salutes or side stretches.  Put music on.  Try the easier or harder variation of poses you love and see what you can learn.

9 - Stop demanding more

Jacking up with caffeine to stay awake for your first few yoga classes, hitting it like an athlete and ignoring a suspicious twinge are all sure ways to overdo it.  Even if you are a sports athlete, yoga will feel different and you will need to bring a beginners mind and engage in mindfulness.  If you are new to yoga or have been away for a while, even working at 50% of your capacity…you will still get an explainable feeling of ‘ahhhhhhhhhh’, and multitude of benefits after the right class.

10 – Practice regularly, and don’t forget Savasana

Practice yoga whenever you can. If you need to define it, start with at least three, four times a week, but you need to understand that every practice – even if you can find 10, 20 quiet minutes – is beneficial for you. Just get on your mat and start your practice. And don’t skip Savasana, even though you are in a hurry, because your body and nervous system need to sooth and relax, particularly after a more intensive exercise.

Want to share your tips?  Leave a comment to help others!

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About Claire Bhavani-Winzar

Claire Bhavani-Winzar is a Certified Women's Health & Nutrition Coach, and Yoga Alliance 500 Registered Yoga Teacher. Her favourite work is with women who find themselves frazzled and rushed - using hormonal balancing strategies that are proven to work. Previous incarnations have been a physical trainer, supporting people with chronic medical conditions to their best health; a pharma rep and a genetic sequencer on the Human Genome Project. Claire has made a lifelong study of positive physical, emotional, mental and spiritual growth - she studied it so you don't have to. Claire brings you the best nuggets of information to propel you back to health, plus the 200% enthusiasm in YOU so that you can spend you time doing what you do best: living a happier, vibrant, satisfying life with your family. Healthy Lifestyle Workshops, Yoga Prescription and Women's Circles. Visit www.thesistahood.org to access yoga videos, health education, your free coaching session, and your Sistahood Community.

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