Although attending yoga classes is the traditional form, the group setting is not ideal for everyone. If you are not in a position to get to a yoga class, want to put in some extra time or simply work best under your own steam, how can you achieve best practice in your own home?
Create An Atmosphere
Find a space suitable for yoga both physically, so that you have plenty of room for even your most dynamic postures and mentally as if you have a computer flickering in the background, the sound of a hamster running around its wheel or vibrations from the washing machine’s spin cycle, you are unlikely to be able to fully focus. Try and reserve this area purely for your yoga practice and decorate the space for maximum peace and calm. In general keep the space uncluttered, but you could set the scene with some objects or images that encourage serenity and wellbeing.
Get The Kit
Most yoga devotees are likely to own a sticky mat but if you don’t, this is your most important purchase. You must have a stable surface to maintain asanas, so if you have mats or cushioning on the floor, make sure they are secured. Some cushioning can be comfortable but any slipping can cause serious injury so the most important floor covering you will need is a proper sticky yoga mat. Proper yoga clothing can also be useful to set the mood, creating the mental sensation of a yoga session outside your normal daily activities.
Yoga clothing is also necessary to help you achieve postures that may be otherwise restricted by everyday clothing. In addition, keep a blanket to hand so you don’t get cold during savasana and as a prop in achieving certain poses. Some people also use blocks and straps to help them achieve the more challenging postures whilst protecting themselves from injury.
An iPod player or some other kind of stereo is also high on the priority list, as most will be used to hearing some relaxing background accompaniment whilst practising yoga. Gentle music is excellent for setting a mood and there are numerous yoga music compilations available, or you may prefer to make your own.
You may also find instructional programmes useful to follow if you are inexperienced or unused to arranging your own discipline. You can play these through your stereo or you may want to arrange access to a DVD player or computer if you prefer visual instructions.
Injuries can occur all too easily, particularly at home. If you are practising alone, you need to be extra careful in two ways. Firstly make sure you have easy access to help should an accident happen and secondly because without experienced supervision you may be unaware of incorrect posture causing damage or strain to certain areas. Beginners to yoga should follow instructions carefully, but experienced practitioners must not become complacent. Adding a mirror to the wall of your practice area can help you to see if you have attained a pose correctly or where you may be going wrong.
Sally Hayes is a yoga teacher who writes regularly for a range of websites and blogs. She runs classes for small groups and individuals and is working on her own range of yoga clothing.