the llama blog
practicing yoga off the mat.
“How often should I practice yoga?” This is a question I regularly receive as a yoga teacher. My answer is always, “every day or as often as you’re able.” Yoga (both its physical and spiritual aspects) take practice to master. The more time you devote to it, the easier the poses will seem, the deeper your meditations will feel, and the stronger your self-relationship will be.
What will you gain from a home yoga practice? You develop confidence. You become more knowledgeable about your body and how it functions. You grow exponentially between classes. You deepen your love for yourself, and to top it off, your practice becomes a self-indulgent treat you can do any day for free.
Pick a consistent time of day that works for you. Are you a morning person or night owl? Are you able to break for lunch for a practice? Schedule your practice and set up a calendar reminder for your time. If you treat it like you would a doctor’s appointment or important meeting, it will happen.
Choose a quiet location. Sure, we live in a world of constant noise, but to begin a practice, it’s best to find a space where you won’t be distracted by the TV, washing machine or family. Unroll your mat, and leave it in that quiet space to help motivate you to practice.
Determine how long you will practice. It’s better to do a little movement everyday than 90 minutes once a month. Aim to practice 5 to 20 minutes in the beginning adding and subtracting to what your schedule allows. Does your mind think endlessly about your to-do list? Set an alarm on your phone so you can allow your mind to rest, and enjoy your practice.
Listen to your body. What do you need today, and how much time do you have? If you’re feeling tired, you may choose a gentler practice or even move slower. If you need energizing, you may move vigorously through a few sun salutations or attempt a challenging pose.
Choose 3-5 poses that you enjoy so you are excited to roll out your mat each day. Notice how your body responds differently to these poses each time you practice. Today’s down dog may feel stiff and achy while tomorrow’s feels open and expanding.
Move in all directions. Here’s a little secret about my own sequencing for classes – while I sequence to a theme like hip opening, I aim to move students forward, backward, side-to-side and even twist. All of these movements release tension and give you that “yoga high” you enjoy after a class.
End every practice with savasana and/or meditation. One of the hardest, but most important pieces to a yoga practice is uniting the mind, body and breath. We are constantly on-the-go, and our bodies need stillness. Practice any breathing exercise or meditation you enjoy.
Let’s do it together. Yoga every day starting today.