Tag: yogini

The Magic of Self-Practice: how to start a home yoga practice with tips and ideas #selfpractice #yoga

The Magic of Self-Practice: how to start a home yoga practice with tips and ideas

The Magic of Self-Practice: how to start a home yoga practice with tips and ideas #selfpractice #yogaFor many years, I only did yoga asana in a group fitness class or with a video. I needed someone to follow, someone to tell me what to do next and guide me from one pose gracefully into another.

When I moved to Myanmar, I had two dreams: that I would be able to drive a motorbike around and that there would be a fabulous yoga studio for me to practice at. Only one of those wishes came true: I bought a motorbike on my first Saturday in the country.

So to make up for the other unanswered dream, I started doing videos online.  However the electrical power supply and the internet were both unreliable. I started doing 20 minute “Yoga Download” podcasts. I liked it, but the podcasts were definitely very complete sessions—straight through from warm up to cool down. So I never felt that itch to do just one more pose, though my muscles and joints longed for more.

[Just so you know, this post contains affiliate links]

Intro: My Start Slow with Yoga Self Practice

One day, I didn’t have any new podcasts so I simply rolled out my mat. That’s always the first step: roll out the mat. At first, I just sort of stood on it awkwardly in mountain pose, thinking soooo wait what do I do again?

Then I remembered sun salutations. I struggled at first with small things, like wait, when do I raise up to the flat back again? Before or after the downward dog? Or both?

The Magic of Self-Practice: how to start a home yoga practice with tips and ideas #selfpractice #yogaBut after a bit, my muscles started to engage and my mind started to connect with my body. I could feel my blood flowing and my lungs pumping. It all felt so right. I knew I needed the movement. After a few rounds, I sort of stopped again, stuck. Well. Then what?
Slowly poses started to come to mind and I threw a couple of vinyasas in here and there when I remembered. My transitions were clunky and disjointed.  As I remembered various poses, I did them. I was standing, balancing, then laying on the mat, then seated before standing again. I had a hard time remembering what I did on one side so I could also do it on the other. I just did everything I could think of! Then after a while, more and more poses were flooding my mind but I had to take savasana because I tired myself out!

The reason I’m sharing this story is to spread encouragement. It’s wonderful to start and to try asana on your own.

Starting your yoga self-practice

If you’ve been to a fair number of classes, you probably know more poses and more about them than you think. Trust yourself and your knowledge when you’re on the mat.

Get visual reminders

Look for some resources, like info-graphics from Pinterest with a whole collection of poses. Print them so you can glance at them for inspiration from time to time.  I recommend printing or buying an image or poster that’s how lots of poses at once for easy reference.  You won’t have to stop your practice to see what poses you can do next.  Alternatively, you could get a Yoga Sequencing Deck to help inspire and remember poses AND put them in order for your practice.  This particular deck corresponds with the book,Yoga Sequencing: Designing Transformative Yoga Classes which helps break down poses by levels and gives many sample sequences.

Inspirational Books

Read some yoga books, like Yoga Mind, Body & Spirit. This book is very helpful for describing the process for getting into each pose and what to focus on once you’re in it. It was great for me as a reminder of the alignment and goals of the poses. If you’re worried about hurting yourself in self-practice, this book could be the reassurance you need to find yourself on the mat.

Another fantastic book is 2,100 Asanas: The Complete Yoga Poses.  It literally has 2100 different poses.  It’s a great book to grow with.  As you become more flexible and develop more strength, you can find new poses to challenge you every step of the way.

Draw it out

Drawing little sequences for yourself so you know which poses in particular you want to tackle. It is ok to stray from the plan if you find your body actually wants to do something else.

Listen to your body

As you became more and more comfortable with poses and sequences, you’ll start to hear from your body more and more. For example from my experience, I could feel tightness in the back of my leg and I knew from experience downward dog would elongate the muscle perfectly to soothe it. Or I would just get a sense that my body really, really wanted to drop down into malasana (garland pose). That was one of my most common distractions from standing poses: desire to do malasana. I almost always give in to whatever my asks.  I think it’s good to give your body what it wants in terms of asana.  It usually knows what it needs.  There’s a quote, something like, “I listen when my body whispers so I won’t have to hear it shout.”

Pain

On the topic of listening to your body, be aware of signs of pain. In yoga, it’s good to challenge yourself and push yourself. Try new poses, new binds, new variations. However, it’s also good to stop where you feel resistance. You never want to feel real pain in yoga. Injuries take a long time to recover from, physically and mentally.

Start slow when you need to

Sometimes my body would tell me it was too tired to start so I’d lay on the mat in supta badda konasana (reclining bound angle pose) and just wait to feel the pull to shift into a supine twist or happy baby (ananda balasana). Once I got going, I often found starting a few poses begged for more and I would be standing, balancing and striving for new limits before I knew it.  Usually, a little movement will coax you into wanting more.

Some days I practice for 10 minutes and some days I have to cut myself off after an hour and a half or so because I have other things I should do. You never know what may be waiting inside that will find you on the mat.

Creating a Yoga Space

The Magic of Self-Practice: how to start a home yoga practice with tips and ideas #selfpractice #yogaOne of the other most important things about practicing is finding a good place to do it. Make sure you have enough room and set up a pleasant atmosphere for yourself. BKS Iyengar says you must find a place with good light and no insects, but I think it goes way beyond that. Make your space sing: light a Ideas and inspiration for creating your own yoga and meditation spacecandle or incense, turn on some music that reflects your mood or your practice, de-clutter, add something nice to look at or inspire you. If you have props, like a bolster or block or strap that you use, bring them to your space. If you feel at peace and at home in your yoga space, you will be much more likely to feel drawn to it and want to practice.  Click the image at the right to learn more about creating your own yoga space.

Final words of Encouragement

I’m 100% sure you can do it!  Roll out your mat today.

“Yoga isn’t about touching your toes, it’s about what you learn on the way down.” Self-practice will teach you a lot about yourself inside and out; body, mind, and soul.

Self-practice Suggestions

• Roll out your mat and start
• Trust yourself and your knowledge
• Be present
• Listen to your body

My path to Yoga: Blog about finding asana, yoga and self

My Path to Yoga: what lead me to start doing yoga and how yoga changed me

My path to Yoga: Blog about finding asana, yoga and selfI’ve been doing yoga since college in Arkansas, back in 2005.  My friend Merry invited me to go with her for PE credit and I figured, “why not?”  In a way, I feel like when she asked me to go to yoga, it was the universe speaking to me through her.   We were a little out of place, because the class was mostly adults from the local community who had clearly been before.  We laughed hard as we tried to figure it all out on our mats on the smooth wooden floor of the fluorescent-lit gym.  Everything was so awkward and perplexing, but it all felt good and it was fun.  We were shushed a lot for being so rowdy, but we calmed our giggles week by week and stretched a bit deeper week by week too.

The next year when I transferred to the University of Delaware, I joined the yoga club.  It met two or three times a week and I was there for every session.  I dragged my new friends along with me too.  Soon I had a small crew of yogis.  The girls who taught the classes seemed well organized.  They knew so many different moves (which I now know are called asanas) and always knew how I could push myself harder at just the same moment  that I knew I could go deeper.  They made an announcement at one class, saying they were looking for new teachers.  My insides lurched for the opportunity, but I didn’t believe in myself.  I didn’t think I knew enough about the “moves” and I couldn’t imagine being bold enough to stand in front of everyone and simultaneously show and tell them what to do.  So I let the suggestion wash over me.  The same thing happened when I heard my neighbor had done her yoga teacher training course.  I thought, “that should be me” but I also let that idea float away.

After I graduated with my degree in business in the epicenter of worst slump of the recession, yoga and I lost touch for a bit.  I lost touch with more than one of my passions as I sat on the couch and applied fruitlessly to every job I could find related to my new degree.  After 3 months, I got an email that said “teach English in Korea” and I applied on a whim.  I was there a month later.  That year in Korea and two years in China slipped by before I found myself on a yoga mat again in Istanbul, Turkey, my next home in 2013.  My friend Kat found an ad for a cheap month of hot yoga and invited me along, which I felt I couldn’t resist.  We were in a nice apartment-turned studio facing the Marmara Sea with sleek lines and Buddhas for décor.  A lean Turkish lady with a smooth voice but a clipped accent guided us through the asanas.  We bent and twisted and leaned and grew in a way that felt so familiar and so natural and so necessary.  I didn’t realize how much I’d missed yoga.

The next year, I joined a fancy gym in my new neighborhood.  Sometimes I went just for the steamy hammam in the locker room, but mostly I went for the classes, including yoga.  I was thrilled to have regular access.  After every class, I came out feeling lighter, more limber, calmer, clearer and truly, happier.  Another studio in my new neighborhood had a deal so Kat suggested we join.  We were in a dim basement with a low ceiling for another month of hot yoga- we went almost every day to sweat it out and stretch it out.  I found I was more flexible in the heat even when I felt like I could pass out.  I got lots of positive encouragement from the instructors there who learned to recognize us.  I would have gone more after the deal, but couldn’t afford it.  So I was back to my regular gym a couple of times a week, but I wanted more.

dharamsala

In the Summer of 2014, I visited India on a volunteering trip and on a free day, found a poster for yoga classes.  I went to the studio which turned out to be teacher training center.  One of the trainees led the class.  I was the only non-trainee to show up (in a while it seemed).  They made training seem so do-able.  I remember looking at the Himalayas out the window upside-down doing bridge.  In that moment, I knew I was right where I should be.  Everything felt right.

For my next job, I moved to a little city in Myanmar where everything was covered in a thin layer of dust.  They had colorful local markets and quaint bamboo huts, cows in the middle of the road, big smiles around every corner, gold stupas reaching for the sky and gorgeous rice fields stretching to the foot of the mountains.  But they didn’t have a yoga studio.  I was more than a little bit disappointed, but I perused the small shops and found a mat.  A new friend, Jenn, turned me onto a pod cast with short sessions and I also started to try to guide myself.  I knew lots of asanas.  I knew which ones could morph into other similar poses.  I could breath energy into my body with sun salutations too.

That next Summer, in 2015, I visited Bali, a land studded with yoga studios.  I spent weeks dropping my boyfriend off at the beach to surf and motorbiking over to yoga before picking him back up for lunch.  It was heavenly.  I got into a new flow and found a new need for yoga.  One particular class really struck a chord with me in Ubud- hatha with Emily, as recommended to me by another yogi, Ali, who I’d met at the beach.  I felt really compelled by Emily and wished I had time for more classes.

Back in Myanmar, when the internet worked, I’d sometimes go on Facebook.  I noticed a trend on my feed- lots of my gal pals were doing yoga and a few were even teaching it.  This observation made me consider doing the training myself.  I sent lots of messages asking how they got into it and what suggestions they had.  I felt inspired by their responses and started to look into courses with my radar mostly on India.  My sister Natalie and I were talking and she said she’d love to do the training too.  She mentioned Bali and I said I would only do it there if it was with Emily.  She googled Emily and said, “Guess we’re going to Bali this Summer!  There’s a training session in July!”

I worked hard on preparing myself, mind, body, and spirit for devoting myself to yoga.  I was a bit apprehensive because I hadn’t been practicing in the last couple of years as much as some of my fellow future instructors surely had.  Part of me felt like maybe I should wait, but I told myself, “really, there’s no time like the present; now or never.”  I threw myself into something I didn’t know if I was ready for, but that was not new to me.

In a way, I feel like I’ve been pulled here by forces beyond me.  Like a trail I couldn’t see stretching ahead over mountain slopes.  Friends along the way have pointed me in the right direction.  Their voices were my guru or my guide, sending me ever further along the path toward yoga.

[Just so you know, this post contains affiliate links, meaning if you click through and purchase something I will receive a commission. I wouldn’t recommend it if I didn’t love it!]


Katia Yoga blog: asana, meditation, yoga theory, yoga philosophy, looking within, and so much more. Join me!

Welcome to Katia Yoga: Mindfulness. Yoga. Wellness. Health. Blog. Shop.

Hi there!  I’m Katia and I’m a yogi.  learning some new yoga techniquesI started practicing asana over 10 years ago.  I loved moving my body through the different shapes and felt better after yoga classes, but it wasn’t quite whole.  More recently, I’ve been learning about the other 7 limbs of yoga and about other yoga-related concepts.  It’s amazing how the other aspects make yoga a more complete lifestyle and make me more whole as a yogi and person.

I wanted to learn even more and share my fun so I joined a Yoga Teacher Training course in July 2016.  From there, I taught yoga in Nicaragua and Myanmar, but there was too much to squeeze into each hour-long class.  So I created this yoga blog to share the things I learn about yoga and being a yogi along the way.  I hope you’ll join me for the journey.

I blog about the deeper side of yoga and how to make yoga a real part of everyday life for yogis who want to deepen their practice and expand their knowledge through body, mind and soul.  These yogis want to keep growing, learning and becoming more and more their own wonderful selves.