Want to have a more advanced practice? Want to gain more benefits from practicing Yoga?
I have your solution right here: Bring your practice home.
Practicing once or twice a week isn’t going to get you anywhere. Actually it may even set you back—trying to do all that sweating and those fancy poses once a week is a recipe for injury. I’m not saying drop your weekly group classes—you need them, too. But if you want to progress, you need to practice more.
Give me 15 minutes, 5 days a week, for 40 days, and your practice will be in a new place.
What you will need:
- You. Not even a mat or special clothes. You. And maybe a chair.
- A timer (phone, watch, anything with an alarm)
- Set your alarm for 15 minutes earlier than it is set for now.
- Do not give yourself the option not to get up. No snooze. No “I’ll do it tomorrow/when it’s warmer/at the next solar eclipse.”
Execution (or How You Will Use Those 15 Minutes)
- 2 minutes: Get out of bed and get to your space. You don’t need to change, your pj’s are fine. You can roll out a mat if you would like, but it is not really necessary.
- 30 Seconds: Stand up, put your hands together in front of your heart and say to yourself “I give thanks for this opportunity to practice.” Doesn’t matter if you mean it. Say the words to yourself.
- 5 minutes: Sun Salutations. Ask your teacher to show you how to do them. Do them with the breath—inhale move, exhale move. Do not stop. Do not pause. Breathe and move. When the timer goes off, finish your round and come back to standing.
- 5 minutes: Sit down. On a chair, on the floor, on a cushion. Head, neck, and spine erect. Equalize the incoming and outgoing breath through the nostrils. Keep your eyes open and look down at about a 45 degree angle. Mentally name each inhale IN the whole way in, and each exhale OUT the whole way out. Don’t worry about other thoughts and distractions. Just make the recitation of IN/OUT the loudest noise in your mind. TRUST THE TIMER. It will tell you when 5 minutes is up. When the timer goes off,
- 30 Seconds: Put you hands together in front of your heart, and say to your self “I give thanks for this opportunity to practice.” Say the words.
You have now done a complete practice of Patañjali yoga: Yama/Niyama: expressing gratitude, Postures (asana) and breath control (pranayama): sun salutations, and Pratyahara: sitting still and shutting up. All of which set the stage for Concentration, Meditation, and Samadhi (remember, we can actively practice the first 5 limbs, the last 3 occur as a result of that practice, they are states not actions).
And you have 2 minutes left.
Give this 40 days and you will have developed a habit of practice.
You can do this.
Establishing the habit of practice is most important. Save the sweating and fancy poses for your group classes when there is a teacher to help you. Consistency trumps contortions. Your true practice is what you do everyday.