Guest Writer: Amber Platt
Many people are now recognizing the benefits of yoga and the number of individuals practicing the different styles of yoga is increasing. Individuals may assume the only means of practicing yoga is at a yoga studio, classroom, gym, or retreat.
However, one of the easiest, most convenient, time and money saving options is one’s own home. In order to make the yoga experience meaningful and valuable at home, all an individual has to do is the following:
The main purpose of yoga is to create relaxation, harmony, and self-awareness while reaping the benefits of flexibility, agility, and maximizing the body and mind’s potential. In order to successfully practice yoga, an individual needs to find a location where they will have quiet and solitude, which provides an opportunity for self-reflection, relaxation, de-stressing, and meditation.
In addition to a quiet atmosphere, the area must also be able to accommodate the individual in their yoga poses without causing harm or break in concentration. The designated area needs to be able to accommodate a yoga mat or towel, any additional tools, ensuring when an individual is practicing a pose they do not hit furniture, objects, or figurines, and if the individual opts to practice with the guidance of an exercise video, easy access to watch the television.
In order to successfully practice and enjoy yoga, an individual needs to wear the correct clothing. The best types of clothing for yoga practice are comfortable, breathable clothing, such as cottons, sweats, and similar exercising garments. An individual does not want to wear anything too constricting nor too baggy, otherwise the clothing will be uncomfortable and impede the ability of properly reaping the benefits of meditation since discomfort and bothersome clothing will distract the individual. The clothing should be form fitting and easy to maneuver in without being too tight, riding up or down, or too loose. In addition to the proper clothing, distracting jewelry should be removed and if the individual is more comfortable exercising with their hair up rather than down, they can place their hair in a ponytail near the nape of the neck or French braid to minimize interaction with particular poses. Individuals do not wear shoes during yoga, rather barefoot is preferred but cotton socks or socks with grips can also be used.
Tools and Accessories
The most important tool of yoga outside of an open mind and able body is the mat. The sticky mat, which can be found at most retail stores in addition to specialized yoga sites online and studios, is a thin rubber mat that provides cushioning when you lay down on it, protection from the floor, is the length of your body to ensure your entire body is protected, and provides a grip during poses to ensure your hands and feet do not slide, which prevent harm. If you do not currently have a mat and want to practice yoga in the meantime, you can use a beach towel. It will provide protection from the floor, but does not provide a sticky surface to ensure grip is maximized. Ultimately, the purchase of the mat is essential to your yoga practice.
Many yoga positions take months and years to acquire perfection. In the meantime, we are teaching our bodies how to mold, flex, and become limber to attain those poses. A prop often used to assist in maximizing this body training are foam yoga blocks. These blocks allow you to lean a body part on them to imitate the pose if your body is unable to reach to complete position. This allows you to attain a pose without strain or harm to your body until you can graduate into the pose without the prop. Another tool is the strap, which provides a means for an individual to grasp or touch parts of limbs where flexibility is not present. The straps help the individual train the body how to make a particular area flexible and limber.
Yoga balls provide another means for attaining yoga poses; especially back poses and abdominal poses. The ball is not a required tool, but will add intensity to some poses since the body has to focus more to maintain balance while performing a pose while in other poses, the ball provides more support and ease for the individual to attain the pose. There are several different types of props an individual can purchase to help maximize their yoga regimen, but the most important tools are the quiet room, mat, and for the individual to be ready for their yoga practice.
An individual can practice poses by watching an instructional DVD, memorize poses from yoga books and sites, review books while practicing, access the internet for sites which demonstrate or explain poses, have an instructor come to the house, or access yoga course information from cable programs. There are different avenues to access the information and not all of them entail funds to learn or access from the sources. An individual can purchase DVDs at stores, online, gyms, and studios. There are varying types of instructional DVDs yoga based on age, level, style, and some are even geared for family participation.
Food and Water
An individual should not eat anything heavy at least two hours before their yoga regimen since this will make the body heavy and uncomfortable and can cause indigestion, nausea, and heartburn, and with the varying poses, can result in discomfort and vomiting. If an individual feels they need to satisfy hunger and increase their energy levels before the yoga regimen, they can eat a light snack such as fruit, yogurt, or crackers.
Individuals should drink plenty of water, preferably purified, to maintain a hydrated body. Drinking frequently throughout the yoga regimen, especially when sweating, will keep the body hydrated since they are losing water through exertion. Individuals need to remember to drink water throughout the day to keep hydrated, balance their body, and flush toxins accumulated from exercising, resulting in a healthier mind and body.
Know your Body
Before anyone begins a physical regimen, they should discuss with their doctor their current ailments and how their ailments and medications can impact their yoga practice. Their doctor will advise them if they have any limitations, which the individual should adhere to in order to prevent any harm to their body during their yoga practice.
In addition, when practicing a pose, the individual needs to listen to their body to determine if they are in a pose correctly and feeling the warm stretch or if they are in discomfort. If they find they are in discomfort, they need to stop the pose immediately, regroup, and attempt the pose again correctly. Knowing their body’s limitations to ensure they do not overdo a pose, resulting in harm is essential to successful yoga practice.
Remember the purpose of yoga is to learn to relax, have fun, and better the mind and body. Learn different poses, reap the benefits, and enjoy the moments of solitude and mediation the practice provides everyone, which will continue to benefit the person throughout the day. Individuals need to establish a schedule for their regimen, remain motivated, and ensure they make time for themselves and their health. Everyone can enjoy a successful yoga regimen at home without the expense and time management required of other locations if they commit to the basics of yoga.