Griffins Hill Retreat yoga and food blog
Yoga asanas -- Starting a home practice -- a step along your Yoga Sadhana (yoga path)
By Frank Jesse
Over 1700 years ago, the ancient Indian sage, Patanjali, listed the obstacles or impediments to developing a regular yoga practice in the yoga sutras, sutra 1.28: “disease, inertia, doubt, heedlessness, laziness, indiscipline of the senses, erroneous views, lack of perseverance and backsliding.”
Not much has changed. For a beginner student, and even some more experienced students, starting a home practice can be a challenge -- not knowing where or how to begin.
Having a special room or even a dedicated space where you will not be disturbed by the phone or other people will reduce distractions.
A set yoga asanas sequence keeps it simpler especially for a beginner, and I have provided one as an example at the end of this post. Once you are familiar with your sequence you can start to cycle through a set of yoga asanas on a weekly basis for a more balanced and varied approach.
Start your practice with a comfortable yoga pose. By this, I don’t mean perfectly comfortable, physically. The first yoga pose of your practice best be one that you are familiar with, that you know how to get into and is not too much of a struggle to maintain. There are several reasons for this.
Your regular starting pose becomes a reference point for your practice. You will start to notice small differences in the pose each time you start your practice.
We all bring different states of mind to our practice because of the many and varied demands in our lives.
In your practice you may observe that you are more tired, restless or stiffer than you were yesterday. You may notice your mind is easily distracted or lethargic, or on another day you may experience a greater sense of calm and focus. You can work with these observations in the practice you do that day. For example, you may need to use more support, such as a wall or chair or may even choose to do a quieter practice on days you have less energy.
You should also end your practice with Savasana (corpse pose) or another restorative pose, such as Viparita Karani (see photo 13 below) where you can relax totally and fully absorb the benefits of your practice.
When first starting a practice, start simply with not too many yoga asanas. Be realistic in setting a starting time and duration. Get up a little earlier if you have a busy life. By initially limiting your practice to half an hour a day, you can become accustomed to that earlier starting time and appreciate the benefits of a regular practice. As your experience and yoga knowledge increases, you can extend the duration of your practice to an hour or more.
In fact, a daily practice of between half an hour and a full hour, together with a regular weekly yoga class with a qualified and dedicated teacher, can be enormously beneficial to your health and wellbeing and progress on your Yoga Sadhana (yoga path).
Here's an example of a half-hour yoga sequence that you can do at home:
1) Supta Baddha Konasana (supine bound angle pose) 5 minutes
2) Adho Mukha Virasana (downward facing hero pose) 2 minutes
3) Tadasana (mountain pose) 1 minute
4) Utthitta Trikonasana (extended triangle pose) x 2 30 seconds each side
5) Repeat Tadasana (mountain pose) between standing asanas 30 seconds
6) Virabhadrasana 11 (warrior 2 pose) x 2 30 seconds each side
7) Tadasana (mountain pose) 30 seconds
8) Utthitta Parsvakonasana (extended side angle pose) x 2 30 seconds each side
9) Tadasana (mountain pose) 30 seconds
10) Parsvottanasana (intense side stretch pose) x 2 30 seconds each side
11) Prasarita Parsvottanasana (intense leg stretch) concave back 1 minute
12) Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog stretch) 1 minute
13) Viparita Karani (inverted lake pose) 5 minute. Avoid this pose during menstruation
14) Savasana (corpse pose) 5 minute
Please note: This sequence is for students already practicing yoga and of normal health. During menstruation extra support should be taken under hand in standing pose and back foot should be pressed against wall. Do not practice if pregnant without consulting your teacher, as some pose may need to be modified or eliminated from the sequence during the course of your pregnancy.
Further reading on the yoga asanas and sequences:
Yoga: The Iyengar Way. Silva Mehta, Mira Mehta, Shyam Mehta
Yoga, The Path to Holistic Health. B K S Iyengar
Iyengar Yoga for Motherhood. Geeta S Iyengar, Rita Keller, Kerstin Khattab
How to use Yoga. Mira Mehta
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Thanks Frank! You just saved me (probably) an hour trying to select the best starting poses to kick off my home practice this year! Awesome!!
Hi Frank, this is great thank-you. I have been heading out into the park in Brunswick each morning at around 6 with my mat and doing a similar yet more random practice. It has been great to set up the day in the oppressive temp. I watch the sun's bright colour come into the sky and have a clearer understanding of the salute to the sun. In a cool morning giving respect to that great ball of fire, which by the late afternoon will seem to be your greatest enemy. The practice of starting again every day in a position of humility peace and respect..
Thank you. I started using the sequences in Mehta's "Yoga the Iyengar Way" about 2 months ago. The sequences are just the right length and allow time to focus on 1 or 2 asanas with chairs and other props. This was after getting through all 28 weeks of sequences in the Preliminary guide and needing 2 to 2.5 hours to complete.