Personal Practice Guidelines

What follows are some general guidelines that might be of help if you want to practice yoga at home. Your encouraged to ask questions (email, in class, phone etc) and seek direct help if required. Please read between the lines and get the essence. Remember you are the one practising, and therefore you assume full responsibility in what you do choose to do, and how you choose to do it.

Respect your self and your body. Practice within your experience and understanding of yoga. E.g. if you don’t know much or have limited experience, keep everything simple and easy. The more you know the more you can apply.

Start simple. Remember that the intensity of practice should start from simple, build up towards the peak posture (or postures) and then have some counter posture and cool down after that. For example my personal practice starts with the Sun Salutation sequence, but this may be too strong for you, you might need to end with the Sun Salutation and use the practice leading up to it to prepare for it. A peak posture is the posture (or postures) that are most challenging and require the mostly warm up and preparation.

How long? Initially keep it simple, 5 minutes, 10 or maybe 15 minutes. As you become more accustomed to practising regular you may find a need to extend the practice. Ensure you finish the practice wanting more and not wishing it would end. It should be enjoyable and beneficial, not negative.

Practice sequence:-

  • Watch the breath (2 mins)
  • Asana, or postures (5,10 or 15 mins)
  • Watch the breath (3 mins)

Fuller Sequence to include pranayama and meditation:-

  • Watch the breath (2 mins)
  • Asana/postures (as required)
  • Pranayama
  • Meditation (optional)
  • Relaxtion (a must if you’re not meditating, optional if you are)

Content of a personal practice. Should you want to practice more than just postures the sequence of practice would be:-

  • Settling period (eyes closed watch breath)
  • Asana (postures as described above)
    • Include all spinal moves before the peak posture/s
      • foreword bend
      • backward bend
      • side bend
      • twist
    • Ujjayi +Bandhas
      • This combination provides many benefits including core support and a deeper practice.. They also allow safer stronger stretching to take place and help regulate the energy in the body (outwardly heart rate and breathing)
  • Pranayama (breathing exercise). You could just watch the breath or use:-
    • Ujjayi (with or without kechari mudra)
    • Nadhi Shodana (alternate nostril breathing)
    • or anything else you know
  • Meditation such as Anatar Mouna (inner silence)
  • Relaxation

When should you practice? What ever works for you. It might be best to pick a single day and time and cultivate the discipline and motivation to maintain this. The hidden aspect of self practice is discipline and rhythm to do the practice. From your initial exploits you might decide to change when you practice, and that’s just fine.

Cultivate your practice gently. Over time you will learn about your body, mind etc and you will adapt and change your practice. However, it helps to have a known sequence that works for you, which for decisive reasons you change.

Do not rush. This applies to cultivating your practice sequence and the way you practice.

When in doubt as to whether or not I should practice today? The ego is amazing and unbelievably convincing even when you think the ego isn’t even trying to trick you! This became my mantra when I realised the problems with getting to my matt. Always get to your matt and start your first movement (after settling) before you decide if you’re not going to practice. The reason is simple, I have had some of the best practices when I felt my worst, or when my mind whilst laying in bed was convincing me I was not ready for practice. When you start doing the first movement your body intelligence and experience in that moment will tell you if you should stop. If your literally too unwell to practice you won’t get to your matt, but be carefull with this one! Of course there have been times when I stopped that practice when I realised there was no energy or some other reason I shouldn’t be practising. But more often than not its your ego tricking you without you knowing it’s doing it.

You become the teacher and the student in one. Guiding yourself through the practice and experience the practice is a deeper and richer experience.

Suggested asana sequences

Disclaimer: I take no responsibility for anything that happens in your personal practice. Should something not feel right, don’t do it. If you don’t understand it, do not do it. Remember your own health conditions and look for contra-indications to postures and practices (such as breathing exercises, or anything else).

Also found on: Google+