Greetings Scarlet Caps! This is the time of year of cold, gray days when it can be tough to get motivated to leave the house for some physical exercise. With that in mind, I'd like to share my tips for starting, or renewing, a home yoga practice. It's not as complicated or intimidating as most people assume. It may take a bit of trial and error to figure out what works for you, but it's well worth the investment. Not only is it more convenient, but you'll also save money on classes and have a skill that you can take with you anywhere you go. Let's get started!
First, find a space where you won't be disturbed. This may be in the basement or a nook in the guest room. (In warmer weather, it may be in your backyard.) It doesn't have to be large, just big enough for your yoga mat and for you to stretch your arms and legs out to the sides. You'll also want a bit of room in front of and behind your mat. If you don't have a yoga mat, try to find a carpeted space. Let people know you'll be practicing and do not want to be disturbed. Close the door.
Your room should be a comfortable temperature. Not too cold, not too hot. And definitely mute your cell phone and leave it in another room.
Wear comfortable clothing. Something stretchy is preferable--think exercise pants or, if it's early in the morning, pajama pants work great too. Your top should fit sort of snuggly so that it doesn't bunch up around your neck and shoulders when you're in down dog. If you have long hair, you may want to have a hair tie handy. Other items you may want to have nearby include water and tissues.
If you like to listen to music, try to use an ipod instead of your cell phone. If you have no other option other than your phone, turn the ringer off and place it at a distance from you so that you won't be tempted to check your messages. Headphones don't work.
You don't have to practice to music and even if you do it doesn't have to be traditional "yoga music." I usually practice to my favorite bands-even rock. If you don't have a playlist handy, try Pandora (the Eric Church channel is one of my favorites!) If you're feeling stressed or frazzled you might want to start in silence or with more soothing music and then ramp it up. Experiment.
Start with a few minutes of deep breathing. I recommend lying down in whatever position is comfortable for you. Scan your body from head to toe with awareness of where you have placed every part of your body. Be grateful you have nothing else to do but feel yourself breathe.
Then start moving. You can start by hugging one knee into your chest or extending your arms overhead and stretching everything out. Try not to think about it too much. Stay connected with your breath and see if you can be guided from within. Don't worry if you are not in an "official" yoga pose.
Remember, some practice is better than none. If you only have 15 minutes, be grateful you have some time instead of none. I practice in the morning because whenever I've tried to do it at lunch or in the evening something always gets in the way. It's preferable to practice before you eat. Try and find a time that's realistic for you. Maybe there's some space at work or--in warmer weather, a nearby park.
The point is, do what you can and don't beat yourself up if it doesn't measure up to some ideal you've conjured up in your head. Take it one day at a time. Tweak the things that need tweaking so you can enjoy your practice. You'll be glad you did!
Good luck and enjoy!