Sarah Williams looks at the benefits of practising yoga at home.
It’s time-consuming getting to a yoga class and, let’s face it, not cheap. My yoga practice came alive when I took it home. Yoga on my terms. Practising on your own requires a lot of focus but it can also be more gentle or vigorous depending on how you are feeling.
Having the space and time to give your body just what it needs also allows you to get a full practice in, even when injured.
Take your practice anywhere
It can feel overwhelming figuring out where to start, so find a quiet, safe space, maybe even practise outside in the fresh air.
To help you get to know your practice create a time frame and be consistent with it.
We all love that ‘yoga high’ we get after practice and the more you practise the more you keep that glow going.
Be gentle with yourself
Don’t know where to start? Start small… You don’t have to go all out and do a 90-minute advanced practice everyday.
If you’re tired, get on your back, sense your breath and feel your body. This may be enough.
Equally it’s a great time to practise more challenging postures that are often neglected during classes, but be easy with yourself without too many expectations.
Focus on the areas of your body which feel blocked or tight. Be mindful that tight can often mean weak.
It’s a great idea to combine strengthening movements (such as bridge pose) with opening movements (forward folds).
Be careful not to over-stretch without strengthening too. Yoga is about balance. Otherwise it’s just stretching.
When carrying out your self practice, become aware of nuances in your body. Explore the edges of sensation and learn to recognise the changes in your breath during the more difficult moments.
Remember that a stretch is a healthy sensation but pain is a cue to back off.
Lose the ‘should’ and practise because it makes you feel good.
Use your teacher-led classes as inspiration
You might find yourself enjoying the liberation exploring ‘your’ yoga.
However, teachers will be able to safely guide you through sequences and give you appropriate modifications.
Use some of the postures and sequences from your favourite yoga teacher to be creative with your own yoga planning.
How do I take my practice to the next level?
A few minutes of seated meditation at the beginning or end of practice tracing the breath was my way in.
Take time to explore just sitting. No distractions.
Also, embrace the freedom that comes with having a playful practice. Laugh when you fall over and find joy in getting back up.
Your yoga is a great way to find out who you are. In my classes I encourage students to see that they are practising awareness.
We can all do this. Yoga speaks for itself and will meet you where you are. Just do your practice.
Remember to always consult a medical physician if you have a health condition before practising at home and consult with a qualified yoga teacher.
Sarah teaches Vinyasa Yoga in Brighton and Hove. For more information, visit www.sarahwilliamsyoga.com