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Build a Home Practice

Working on poses and sequences on your own makes yoga far more personal and impactful.

By Claudia Cummins

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1. Less Is More

In the beginning, a little yoga every day is likely to be more manageable than trying to squeeze in a longer session a few times a week. Try setting aside just 10 or 15 minutes in your day for some quiet exploration—perhaps when you first wake up, when you return home from work, or just before you sink into bed at night.

2. Focus on a Single Pose

Each week, pick one pose you'd like to explore more deeply and commit to practicing it at least once a day. Consider choosing an asana your teacher has recently focused on in class, or flip through the pages of an introductory yoga book until you find a pose that speaks to your imagination. Stick with your exploration until you feel as comfortable in your chosen pose as you do in your favorite pair of jeans.

3. Round Out Your Practice With Variety

Focus on a particular group of postures each day. Let your mood and energy level dictate which ones you do and when. On Mondays, for example, you might choose to focus on standing poses; on Tuesdays, you might tackle a few backbends. Wednesdays might be suited for concentrating on twists, Thursdays on forward bends. And Fridays,for many of us, are the perfect day to practice restorative postures.

4. Slip Short Yoga Breaks Into Your Day

Just a few moments of mindfulness sprinkled throughout the day can go a long way toward helping create a more balanced and joyful life. This is easy to do: Focus on your breath while waiting at a stoplight. Practice Tadasana (Mountain Pose) while standing in line at the grocery store. Rise up into Vrksasana (Tree Pose) while brushing your teeth. With a bit of ingenuity, you'll find plenty of opportunities to work a little yoga into your daily routine.

5. Follow Along

Base your practice on an established sequence of postures shown in your favorite book or video. This can be a source of inspiration as well as an excellent way to learn the fundamentals of sequencing and to develop a well-rounded daily practice.

6. Practice With a Friend

Roll up your sticky mat and head over to a friend's house. Explore a few asanas together that you've learned in class or from a video, or take turns suggesting poses. As you move through the postures, share your questions, observations, and insights. You may find yourselves inspiring each other in ways you hadn't expected.

7. Look Inward

At the beginning of each session, sit quietly for a few moments and observe your state of being. Ask yourself what sort of practice will bring you into a deeper state of balance. Are you in need of a little heat and invigoration? Include a few Sun Salutations or standing postures in your practice. Looking for a little relaxation? Try some seated postures and restorative poses. Tailor your yoga to the poses and practices that move you in the direction of balance, wisdom, and ease.


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Reader Comments

Lauralyn

I do not make new year resolutions, but I am making it a goal to do a 30 minute yoga routine at least 5 times a week. (also do Tai Chi). My yoga instructor stated if one makes an effort to do something 21 days in a row, it becomes more of a routine than an effort.

SKARIMARI

I have found it helpful to keep my yoga mat out in a spare room (or corner) and make that the place I go to in the morning and after work to drink my tea. It always turns into something interesting. Listening to my body and giving it what it wants is very nurturing and peaceful.

karen

Great advice for people who are just beginning. As a teacher I see alot of people struggling with time for a lengthy practice. I always tell them to start with sitting quietly for 5 to 10 minutes as a starter. Then to bring in a couple of simple asanas from the class home with them.

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