All times are uncertain. These times however, we’re feeling it strongly. Good thing we have yoga! When it’s no longer safe to visit your local yoga studio, it’s time to practice at home. But where to begin? May this post be of benefit by giving you a starting point from which to design your own home yoga practice.
A home yoga practice can be just what we need to calm down, reduce stress, and find ease in our body. Ultimately, yoga frees us from attachment to our bodies, and abhinivesha, our fear of death.
To do the latter and reach the final stages of yoga, find yourself a teacher! To start at home with the foundation of a daily practice, follow the steps below, and watch the video for all these tips!
Centering & Grounding
Begin your practice by taking a moment to notice where you are. Start with awareness of breath, and then let breath be as an arrow pointing inward towards awareness of the body.
Of course, you’ll notice all the activity in your mind too. Keep coming back to awareness of breath and the body, as many times as you need to.
Set an Intention
This is particularly important for your home yoga practice. An intention lends you a single point of focus which can help guide the structure or energy of your flow. Not sure what to do?
Intention can be “I’ll work on heart opening today,” “I’ll work on twists today,” “I’ll stay present with my breath today,” or “I’ll allow intuitive movement to arise.” Pick one or choose your own.
Warming Up With Sun A
Begin to gently and slowly move the body. Classically, we begin practice with a suryanamaskar A. At home, feel free to get creative with this sequence by adding in back bending, side-bending, chatarunga dandasana or ashtavakrasana, or anything else.
In it’s most basic form, a sun series A might look like the following:
- Down Dog /Adho Mukha Svanasana
- Forward Fold / Uttasana
- Half Lift / Ardha Uttasana
- Mountain Pose / Tadasana
- Hands to Heart / Samasthiti
- Mountain Pose / Tadasana
- Forward Fold / Uttasana
Strengthening with Sun B
Here the body is ready to add in some more warming chair poses, and the fire-y sequences of warrior stances or high lunges. Based on your intention, where does your home yoga practice want to take you? In the video above, we demonstrate the dancing warrior sequence, a favorite go-to which offers a nice flow when we move with the breath.
- Chair Pose / Utkatasana
- Inhale to Warrior II / Virabhadrasana II
- Exhale to Extended Side Angle / Utthita Parsvakonasana
- Inhale to Reverse Warrior / Viparita Virabhadrasana
- Exhale to Downward Dog / Adho Mukha Svanasana
Getting Creative with Sun C
Now that you’re sufficiently warmed up, it’s time to get creative. Where else can your at-home yoga practice go? In this video, we decide to add in some twists. Chair pose becomes a twisted chair. Our standing series involves revolved high lunge.
You could also do more work here on opening inner or outer hips, on heart opening, standing balances, or balancing on your hands.
Work backwards. Depending upon your intention with the Sun C meaty part of your class, decide what prep work needs to be done first, and sequence that into your Sun A & Sun B warm up. For example, if I know I want to focus on twists, I’ll do a lot of side bending or gentle twisting as I’m warming up.
Stretching & Lengthening
Don’t skip this part in your home yoga practice! Now that the body is warmed up and fired up, it’s important that you take the time to cool things down. Supine or belly-down backbends and long held stretches work great here. The following is an oft-seen sequence you likely remember from your studio yoga class.
- Pigeon Pose / Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
- Belly Down Back Bends / Shalabasana
- Child’s Pose / Balasana
- Seated Forward Fold / Paschimotonasana
- Bridge Pose / Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
Again, don’t skip this part! This is either the favorite part of your yoga practice, or an area where you need to work on patience. But…it’s important we allow all the energy of the standing poses, all the fire and the heat to dissipate a bit before we move back into the world.
By settling down and finishing with a few supine twists, a happy baby, and savasana, we give a chance for the parasympathetic nervous system to kick back in, and we invite in the sensation of post yoga bliss. Who would want to skip this?
At home, you have the luxury of spending as much time with any particular part of your yoga sequence as you want.
After settling the energy again with a successful savasana, now is the perfect time to rise up and meditate.
Intention is just as important when it comes to meditation. Everyday is a good day for compassion, but a loving kindness practice is a wonderful choice today, a beautiful way to help despite your self-quarantine.
With or without a pause for meditation, be sure to close your home yoga practice by recognizing your amazing karma. How lucky are we to have the time to move, to be still, and to play with all the stages in between? Finally, dedicate your home yoga practice, and all the benefits you’ve received to the benefit of all beings everywhere.
Sara-Mai Conway is a yoga and meditation instructor with Baja Surf Yoga. While she’s taking a little break right now from public classes, and thinks you should too, find her teaching schedule here.