“You really do not need to know many things but you definitely need to practice what you know.” Swami Rama
Establishing a Daily Practice
Most benefits from yoga come to those who develop a daily practice. There are many reasons why this is difficult at first as we replace old habits with healthier ones. A regular practice is so rewarding that after awhile you will find that your practice makes time for itself.
Regularity: Try to practice the same time each day, ideally when you are not rushed and not likely to be interrupted.
Before you start: clean,quiet, well-ventilated without drafts. Wear loose natural fabrics like cotton to allow the body to breathe. Practice on an empty stomach (4 hours after heavy meal, 2 hours after light).
Follow your breath: Smooth, even diaphragmatic breathing can be practiced anywhere. Remind yourself to check in once in awhile throughout the day. You could take a 2 minute ‘breather’ every couple of hours at work. You might try following the breath in your belly while you sit at a red light. After awhile, deep smooth diaphragmatic breathing will become a new healthy habit.
Make a conscious transition: Five minutes of crocodile before dinner makes an excellent transition from one part of your day to another and allows you to come into the evening feeling fresh and revitalized. Five minutes of shavasana with awareness of breath in the navel area is an excellent way to make the transition from sleep to waking in the morning and from waking to sleep in the evening.
When you don’t have time: Have you ever decided to get up half an hour earlier so you can do some yoga before work? The alarm goes off then you snuggle into the covers for twenty of those minutes until it’s ‘too late’. It’s not too late to do your 10 minute practice! You could easily do a few leg swings by the bed and maybe cat stretch followed by a forward bend and a twist. Have 2 minutes? Do your two minute practice (maybe a side extension to each side and a forward bend). Move your body for a few minutes and make a resolve in your mind that tomorrow you will try again.
Start with the easy stuff: When you’re having trouble motivating yourself to start or making excuses why you really need to do something else, try legs up the wall for 5 minutes then a twist then roll over into cat stretch for a few minutes then … Do what you enjoy!
Let’s make a deal: Decide to practice for 5 minutes. If you really don’t want to continue after that, don’t. Many times the first 5 minutes energizes us enough to want to continue.
Never condemn yourself: When we make a big commitment then don’t follow through, there is a tendency to feel guilty or bad about it. This habit of judging ourselves can be broken. Be aware of what you say to yourself and begin to lighten up. Work gently and lovingly with yourself in your yoga practice. You will begin to look forward to this time and before long, you will have a daily practice.
Mindful practice: be aware of and honor your body and capacity. Work in a friendly, non-competitive attitude. Relax and allow the breath and energy to flow. Balance times of exertion with resting.
Shavasana relaxation practices include:
- Systematic progressive relaxation
- 1:5:5:1 concentration
- Blue star and 61 points
- Sweeping breath
- Yoga nidra
Contact: Lynn Fraser [email protected]