Sunday, May 22, 2011

Take a seat

The seated poses are without question one of the most fundamental sections of any yoga practice and building a solid seated practice is important to building a home practice.  Generally seated poses incorporate forward bends for lengthening the body, twists for detoxification, and abdominals for building a strong core.   You can also work on opening your hips in your seated practice.  In seated poses gravity works as a gentle friend to help you lengthen into the pose and most of these poses can be modified to suit any level.  Another aspect about seated poses is that most of them are inward facing and therefore promote a sense of calm.  Focus on this calming introversion to get the most out of your seated practice.  

Below are some links with lists of possible seated poses.  As you go through these you can think about the different emphasis you can take with each practice.   Some days you might want to focus on deep forward bends for lengthening while other days the focus will be on opening the hips.  Each practice should contain five to ten minutes of abdominals.  Follow your seated practice with your backbends and a closing section.  Remember the more time you spend on your seated and closing poses the calmer and more gentle your practice will be.  Enjoy the peace that they bring.


Practice all the time everywhere

Sunday, May 15, 2011

How to build a practice

A lot of students on the 40 day challenge have been asking about how to build a home practice.  Advice that I received about this a long time ago was just to start with your favorite pose and let it grow of its self from that.  It works as a technique – just remembering what felt good in your last class  – and it helps to keep our expectations low – a very important part of yoga, but some of us draw a mental block when we get to the top of your mat so here are some tips.

Each class and each practice should have a beginning, middle and end – it should be structured as an arc.
Always take some time at the beginning to focus – a few moments on the breath, a formal pranayama, a chant.  Take this time to settle the mind and come into the body and the moment.

Start with warming up.  This will be different depending on your level but usually involves some form of the sun salute.  Here are some links to some different forms of the sun salute.
                I yoga life

After sun salute the focus should shift to standing poses.  This is where the energy starts to lift and the body begins to heat.    Depending on the length of your practice you can do as few as two or three or as many as six or seven.  You can usually mix these up however you like.  Again here are some links.

After the body is warmed and heated you can come to the floor and work some seated poses, some twists and some abdominal poses.  If you have to shorten your practice this is where you can abbreviate.

You should always leave time for finishing poses and these generally follow the same sequence - some backbends and a forward bend as a counter pose to this then your inversions and final breath work before savasana or relaxation pose.

Over the next few days I will upload a series of different sequences so that you can experiment and find your own form and develop your own seated section but generally using this beginning, middle, and end as a template you can move into a home practice. 

One final tip - one of the best and most classic resources for building your home practice is Iyengar’s Light on Yoga (Available now in the Villagio Virgin.)  The appendix has a very structure week by week practice sequence. 

I hope this helps.  Again the main thing is just to start and keep on going once you have started.  Be intuitive and listen to your body and breath.  Let the yoga grow from there.