How To Design A Basic Yoga Session at Home
Yoga at Home
An ideal for so many of us would be to head to the gym or yoga studio each day and put in an hour or half an hour.
We would practice with our favorite teachers or coaches.
Then we would head home relaxed and restored, as well as energized and strengthened for the tasks and duties of our daily lives.
The reality, of course, is that many of us do not make it to the gym or the yoga studio.
We simply do not have the time.
We cannot fit it into our busy schedules.
And if we have the time, we might not have the means to pay for a yoga session every day.
For many of us, the best alternative is to practice at home.
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Benefits of a Home Practice
A home practice benefits us in so many ways.
We can practice yoga on our own time, whenever we want to and whenever our schedules permit.
We can also practice regularly.
Practicing yoga routines at home allows us to practice often and at low cost.
Affordability is key, because many people might opt to quit their yoga practice if training at a studio, gym, or yoga studio is too costly.
Being able to practice at home makes sense for any budget.
So how do we practice safely on our own?
How do we put together a session that balances and nourishes us the way a session would at a gym or yoga studio?
Where to Begin?
Designing a yoga session at home is fun and engaging, as well as empowering and relatively easy to do.
If you have been practicing yoga for some time, perhaps going to a studio for a few months or a year, and are familiar with a variety of poses, then this should be something within reach for you.
You can design your own basic yoga sessions.
Start with what you know and find out more by either reading about yoga sessions and sequences or by talking with your yoga teacher.
Books and resources abound on this subject, but it is always helpful to consult with your yoga teacher or mentor for any insights and tips.
Designing a Basic Yoga Session at Home
To design your yoga session, think of the various ways in which your spine moves.
Take a moment to outline the range of motion of your spine.
The spine is the pillar of the body, it structures our physical frame and unites the various parts of the body.
Having a healthy spine is an important facet of yoga.
Now that you have outlined the ways in which you can move your spine, go ahead and make a selection of poses that incorporate these motions.
Build a short yoga session that includes a variety of the poses you have listed.
Strive to have a number of poses that make use of the spine in different ways.
You can create a wonderfully balanced and nourishing yoga session observing a simple rule, a rule which my own yoga teacher taught me, and that is the rule of “honoring the ranges of motion of the spine.”
Here is a sample session for a basic or beginning-level home yoga practice.
Lengthen or Elongate the Spine
Poses that move the spine upward, lengthening it and countering the effects of compression in the spine are very helpful for correcting posture and effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
Poses like mountain pose (tadasana) or sitting tall in lotus pose (padmasana) help to lengthen the spine.
A great option here is lying down in corpse pose (savasana) and reaching the legs and arms out in opposite directions, imagining them being pulled away from the spine in a straight line from tips of fingers to tips of toes.
It’s important to keep in mind that so many poses do a great deal lengthen the spine.
So this wonderful stretching will organically take place with many poses you incorporate in your session.
Poses that move the spine into a forward fold create a beautiful and soothing release for the back muscles and the spine.
These include poses like child’s pose (balasana) or forward bend like “paschimottanasana”.
Also a great option here is coming from standing in mountain pose into a forward bend.
Standing forward fold (uttanasana) or standing forward fold where you bring your hands to your feet (padahastasana) do wonders for lower back support.
Poses like camel pose (ustrasana) or bow pose (dhanurasana) are great ways to counteract the effects of slumping in chairs all day long.
Cobra pose (bhujangasana) is also a wonderful backbend.
If these poses are too difficult for you to do initially, simply try a gentler modification of each one.
A good pose to begin with might be bridge pose (setu bandha sarvangasana).
Twisting the Spine
Twists create wonderful a release of tension in and around the spine.
They also help to realign the vertebrae and soothe the spine.
Twists can be in the neck area and waist area, but can also extend from lower spine all the way up to the head.
Half lord of the fishes pose (ardha matsyendrasana) is a great twist of the whole upper body, as is Marichi’s pose (marichyasana) and revolved triangle pose (parivrtta trikonasana).
Side-to-Side Motion of Spine
Poses that allow the spine to curve to the right and to the left, while remaining in the same plane as the rest of body.
Triangle pose (trikonasana) is a great pose.
Another great side-to-side stretch is half moon side bend or upward salute half moon side bend (urdhva hastasana), which is done standing up with arms raised and hands clasped above the head and reaching up.
Some Extra Tips
The above poses are simply examples.
Once you feel familiar and comfortable with other poses, you can incorporate them as you see fit.
You can mix and match as many varied poses as you like.
You can also begin your session and end it as you like.
You make use of the above ranges of motion of the spine that feel right for you in the order you prefer.
You can twist or rotate first, or reserve it for the end of your session, or the middle of your session.
You can lengthen then come into forward or backward bends.
Your body will naturally want a certain motion and you will know intuitively in what ways to move to create balance in the spine and harmony in your session.
Once you feel that you have mastered these ranges of motion and have been able to make use of all of them in your basic session, you can build from there- gradually adding postures that require more balance and that you can strengthen the body.
As you grow in your explorations, always pay attention to what feels right and safe for you.
And above all, listen to your body, nurture it, and remember to breathe deeply.
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