Establishing a Yoga Practice

Guidelines For Establishing A Yoga Practice

• Make an intention to do at least something every day, even if it is just one pose or technique. If that’s all you do, you have achieved your goal, anything more is a bonus.
• Establish a routine  – if possible at the same time and in the same place every day. Most benefits come with regular practice.
• Choose a clean, airy, warm space and make it as pleasant, special and dedicated as possible.
• Place something in your practice space to inspire and remind you of the purpose and benefits of your yoga; perhaps a photo of someone who inspires you or representing your goals, a statue, flowers, a candle, ….
• Use a sticky mat on a firm even floor (some sticky mats need to be machine washed, with a small amount of detergent, when they are new, for the grip surface to work).
• Wear loose, comfortable and seasonable clothing and avoid anything tight or restrictive.
• Practice after bowel opening and before eating (or at least 2 hours after, if practising later in the day).
• During at least the first few days of menstruation, women are advised to do a gentler practice, more passive poses, no full inversions, strong abdominal work, or back bend stretches. This is in order to support the down and outward movement of apana, so that menstruation flows unimpeded and painlessly.
• During pregnancy it is advisable to do only restorative yoga during the first 3 months, avoid any strong stretch or pressure on the belly throughout and, in the final trimester, do relaxation lying on the left side.
• Avoid practice during illness, only relaxation is recommended (yoga nidra will help assist recovery).
• Inhale and exhale rhythmically, via the nose (unless it is blocked), throughout the practice.
Breathing is paramount. Never hold the breath, if you get breathless or your breathing becomes laboured, pause and relax to allow the body to regain the rhythm.
• Develop mindful awareness of how your body is responding, take pauses between poses / sequences to observe the effects and develop the ability to relax at will.
• Never hurry the practice, if time is short, do less poses. It’s better to do 1 pose with full awareness than rush through 10 with your mind elsewhere.
• Practice according to your capacity, never strain or compete with yourself or others or strive to achieve an image of what you believe the practice should look like.
• The asanas should be creating more ease in the body, be painless with no more than a mild stretch sensation and a comfortable degree of effort.
• Strong stretch sensations mean the muscles are actually contracting to protect themselves. Stiffness after practice is an indication of micro tears in the muscle filiments.
• If the practice is correct for you, you will feel both relaxed and revitalised for several hours afterwards. Feeling exhausted or stiff are indications that the practice is wrong for you and you must stop and consult your teacher.
• ALWAYS do a relaxation, even if it is just the length of a slow count backwards from 10 to 1. We all need relaxation as much, if not more than exercises. Relaxation balances the nervous system and will ultimately give you more energy.