Yoga

Six Weeks to a Daily Yoga Practice

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Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (founder of Ashtanga yoga) once said "Do your practice and all is coming." I love this quote from him oh-so much.

It speaks to the journey of bringing yoga into your life. You may start by simply wanting to be fit or feel better, but as you dive in you will discover the amazing perspective it brings to your life and the life of those around you. For me, daily asana not only makes my body feel better, but it enables me to be more present and mindful throughout my day. I think committing to a daily practice can be really intimidating.

I had to let go of expectation (because I inevitable would let myself down) and decide each day I will integrate some sort of yoga into the day. Some days, I have a serious asana practice with all the bells & whistles, but other days my practice may only be a few poses and sitting focused on my breath for five minutes.

Whatever it can be I let it be...without judgment and without expectation. More often than not, when I roll out that mat with the intention to stay 10 minutes I end up there for longer. It just feels so good. Like coming home after a long day.

For many people it is hard to think about adding yet another thing to their day. Here's a six week guide to integrate yoga into your life. If you teach, consider printing it out and having it available for your students. Something similar was passed along to me over ten years ago at one of my first yoga classes and helped me bring yoga into my life!

Week One

  • Focus and become aware of your breath. Do you notice that you breathe differently during different situations?
  • Breath deeply at lease three times a day for at least one minute each time.
  • Sit cross legged on the floor as often as you can (or any other comfy way for your body to sit on the floor - use blankets or pillows to find comfort)

Week Two

  • Practice a half Sun Salutation EVERY morning. Try for 3-5 of them, but one is better than none..remember we aren't judging!
  • Give yourself a few minutes after you practice to rest on your back on the floor in Savasana. 
  • Do a twist on the floor EVERY night before bed. (hold one minute each side). Try Ardha Matsyendrasana.
  • Continue to breath deeply at least 3 times a day.
  • Continue to sit on the floor as often as you can.

 

Week Three

  • Continue your daily half Sun Salutation EVERY morning.
  • Add one backbend to your morning routine. Try Setu Bandha Sarvangasana/Bridge Pose and hold for 20-30 seconds.
  • Add one forward bend to your morning practice. Try Janu Sirsasana or Head to Knee Pose (although..remember no judging - the head need not touch the knee!)
  • Give yourself a few minutes after you practice to rest on your back on the floor in Savasana.
  • Continue with your floor twist EVERY evening.
  • Continue to sit on the floor comfortably as often as you can and breath deeply at least three times during each day!

Week Four

  • Try bringing the full Sun Salutation into your morning. There are many different variations. Try this one.
  • Continue one backward bending asana and one forward bending asana in your morning routine.
  • Add an inversion to your morning or during the day when you need to refresher and some rejuvenation. I L-O-V-E Supta Viparita Karani or Legs up the Wall. It's my go to asana! Try holding for 3-5 minutes.
  • Continue your floor twist each night before bed or integrate it into your morning practice after your inversion.
  • Give yourself a few minutes after you practice to rest on your back on the floor in Savasana.
  • Continue to sit on the floor comfortably as often as you can and breath deeply at least three times during each day!

Week Five

  • Continue your FULL Sun Salutation each morning. As you become more and more familiar with the sequence begin listening to that inner teacher that is within all of us. If your body says..."ohhh - hold this place a bit longer" go for it! Or if some movement comes in that your body remembers from yoga class last week and you want to try it again - go for it! The mat is for exploring!
  • Continue your backbend, forward bend, inversion, and twist every day.
  • Lie in Savasana for a few moments before rolling up your mat!
  • Try sitting quietly in the morning a the evening for five minutes and simply breathing. You can practice your daily deep breathing here or not. You may choose to simply watch the breath and observe. Set a timer if you have somewhere to be or feel nervous about the time. Savor.

Week Six

  • Continue your morning routine of Sun Salutations, forward bend, backward bend, inversion and twist. Allow yourself to be an explorer on your mat. Try new poses or a new sequence (Emma and this website is a great resource!)
  • Don't forget to allow a few minutes of yoga rest in Savasana before starting your day.
  • Try alternate nostril breathing or Nahi Suddhi for 1 minute before your 5 minutes of quietly sitting.

I think the most important thing to remember when bringing yoga into your daily life is that it's ok to let your practice be simple if you have a busy day or feel overwhelmed AND it's a wonderful thing to listen to your body (and your inner light/teacher) and be an explorer on the mat. Do any of you have any suggestions about integrating an asana practice into your everyday?