When it comes to practicing yoga at home, the best advice I can give you is something Theodore Roosevelt once said: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” One of my students once did her yoga at 4 a.m. on the deck of a cruise ship somewhere off the coast off California. All you really need is some time to yourself and a space to practice which allows you to stretch out in all directions without banging yourself off a wall or piece of furniture. Everything else is a bonus.

That said, students constantly tell me that the most difficult thing about yoga is establishing a regular practice session at home. Finding the time is the biggest obstacle. When I started doing yoga at home over 13 years ago, I had the same problem.  Out at work all day, the only thing I was fit for in the evening was slouching on the couch. Then one night, I was watching the popular soap Eastenders on telly. As usual, people were at each others throats, snarling, sniping and bitching at each other. Suddenly, a thought struck me. “What if I chucked in this show, and did yoga instead?” So every evening between 7.30 and 8.30 I  started doing a bit of yoga and was amazed to find that the energy to practice came from somewhere. In fact, I became completely revitalized and began to look forward to what became my daily dose of yoga. (Although, not quite. I took the weekends off).   I’ve never looked back. As for the soaps, I was in a doctor’s surgery, recently, and Eastenders was playing on the telly there. It hadn’t changed a bit. The characters were still snarling, sniping and bitching at each other. Even some of the actors were still the same. All I could say was “thank God, I gave it up.” In its place, I have become stronger, more flexible, more toned and most importantly, calmer.”

So if you are like most people, you will probably have to give up something in order to practice yoga regularly. A good idea is to keep a time diary for a week jotting down what you do in your free time and how long you devote to it. You will probably discover that you spend literally hours doing things like texting, twittering, watching telly and drifting through Facebook. The average person spends about 9 years watching television, alone. Some T.V. programs are wonderful but this little box doesn’t deserve 9 years of your precious life energy. The same goes for the other social media.

Once you have found a time slot for your yoga session, the next thing is to find a place where you can practice undisturbed for a little while. It doesn’t need to be a special room. I use a corner of my bedroom. It does, however, need to be quiet, warm, but not too warm, clean and roomy enough for you to stretch out in all directions without bumping against things. A little bit of wall space is essential for positions which require support. That’s it! All you need is the time and the space. However, below I have listed a few more pointers that can make your yoga practice more enjoyable and more effective.

  • Always allow at least 2 hours between eating a meal and doing yoga.
  • Tell everyone in the house that you are off-duty until they see you again. If they can’t cope with that, then the next step is an all-out strike! It’s not the ideal, but if you have no one to look after small children, get them to do the yoga with you. They will be delighted to discover that there is something they can do better than you can.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothes.
  • Practice barefoot on a non-slip mat.
  • Traditionally, yoga is practiced in India at dawn when the air is cooler and the earth’s vibration is high. But it doesn’t work as well in cold, damp Ireland in January. Also people tend to be quite stiff in the morning. The main thing is to find a time that suits you and to try and do yoga at the same time and in the same place. It is more likely that you will keep up the practice if you enshrine it into your routine. By doing yoga in the same place, you will build up a lovely, peaceful vibration there which in turn will enhance your practice.
  •  To make your yoga time and space a special part of your day, you could light incense, a candle or some essential oils in a burner.
  • Have to hand any equipment that you might need: a blanket (or two) for support and also for covering yourself during relaxation; a yoga belt or a long scarf or man’s tie for accessing hard-to-reach places; a yoga block for supporting your hand in poses where you are unable to reach the floor. I used to use a plastic Lego box. But you could use a low stool, a bucket, anything that is steady and strong enough to withhold your weight.
  • Aim to practice about 3 times a week in the beginning e.g. every second day. Little and often is the key and is far more effective than one mammoth session once a week. Start with 10 minutes and build the time up slowly.
  • Always start your yoga session with some breathing to help centre and calm yourself and to mark a separation between your practice and what you were doing beforehand. Follow with Mountain Pose, warm-ups and then do a few positions. ( I will be posting various sequences in the next while). Finish by cooling down in Child Pose or Legs Up The Wall Pose (coming next week) and then spend a few minutes in Savasana.
  • Drink some water after doing yoga to help flush out toxins.
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