Have you been disillusioned by the lack of progress in your yoga practice?
Like everything else, the effort we put into our yoga practice determines our progress. Progress can be measured as improvement in strength, flexibility, energy levels or calmness, depending on our goals. Please note that we are only talking of the “visible benefits” of asana practice in this article.
If you are aiming to progress further, the first question to ask yourself is: Are you practicing enough?
Students usually commit to yoga once or twice a week, or during the weekends. To reap the benefits of yoga, the asana practice should be done at least thrice a week, ideally on alternate days. Time constraints, cost, distance/availability of classes can all deter you from taking on so many paid sessions/week. A home practice will help you fill this gap and ensure your continuity and progress.
Are you building self-awareness or do you depend on the teacher’s cues during Asana practice?
A teacher can only guide you to the “how and why” of of yoga. The path and journey is entirely yours. When you follow the teacher’s instructions in a group class or studio setting, your practice can become mechanical and routine.
A home practice makes you more responsible and you ‘own’ your practice. You focus more when you become your own guide. With focus and attention to breath and movement comes clarity and proprioception. By gradually building this inner awareness, you can go deeper into your practice and be in tune with yourself. In addition, the repetitive movements build the “mind muscle memory” thereby assisting in your progress.
- Set aside a particular time of the day and a quiet place in your house/outdoors where you can practice without disturbance. Ideal time for practice is early in the morning.If this doesn’t work for you, choose a time that is convenient.
- For the first week, incorporate stretches and 3- 5 rounds of slow suryanamaskars. Gradually, you can add more postures into your routine.
- Choose asanas that invigorate you, so you look forward to your practice.
- If you are particularly low on energy, choose a restorative practice. A simple restorative sequence is given at the end of this article. You can also opt for a few rounds of cat & cow, Child pose, forward fold with props, and end with breathing, meditation and Shavasan.
- In teacher led classes, focus on the alignment cues and corrections that he/she gives you. This will form the foundation of your home practice.
- Don’t be shy to choose music, aromatherapy, Mantras, or anything else that will help you focus and improve your home practice.
Please find below a simple and energising sequence that you can practice at home: This is approximately an hour long practice. Hold each posture for 3-5 breaths.
Approximate time: 5 minutes. Repeat 3-5 times and reverse the direction.
- Neck rotation
- Shoulder rotation
- Arm rotation
- Side stretch
Classical Surya Namskar ( Add half plank for strength building: optional)
Approximate time: 10 minutes. Repeat 3 – 5 times on each side.
Approximate time: 10 minutes.
- Triyak Tadasan
- Tree pose/ Vrikshasan
- Warrior 2
- Reverse Warrior
- Utkatasan/Chair pose
- Warrior 1
- Wide legged forward fold
For the core:
Approximate time : 10 minutes, Repeat 3 – 5 times on each side
- Supine Leg Lifts
- Yogic cycling
- Side Lying leg lifts
- Yogic sit up
- Supta padangustasan
- Lying Twists
For the spine and back :
Approximate time: 10 minutes, Repeat 3 – 5 times
- Cat and cow
- Anjaneyasan ( quads stretch)
- Ardha Hanumanasana ( hamstring stretch)
- Dynamic Cobra
- Opposite arms and leg lifts
- Bow pose
Approximate time: 3-5 minutes
- Seated twist
- One legged forward fold
Breathing & Meditation:
Approximate time: 10 minutes
- Yogic Breathing
- Nadishodana ( practicioners with blood pressure variation, please consult a qualified teacher before practicing pranayama)
- If you are complete beginner, enroll yourself into a beginner’s program and understand the basics prior to starting on your own. Nothing can take the place of an actual teacher who can correct your alignments.
- Practice with awareness of movement and breath without being in a rush to finish
- If you are short of time, practice a smaller sequence
- If anything does not feel right during your session , then it possibly isn’t right. Learn to trust your intuition.
- Back off if you feel any sharp or shooting pain.
- Use props wherever possible to prevent injury.
Please remember, it is always better to learn yoga from a qualified instructor and start the home practice once you are comfortable with the right way to do asanas.
Hema Laxman, RYT 200
Owner, Flamingo Yoga & Wellness