Having a home yoga practice, whether it be first thing in the morning, a break for transitioning out of your work day, or a delicious way to wind down before sleep, is an essential tool for our well-being as yogis. Home practice helps us to stay connected to our yoga in between classes, and it sustains us during those times when group classes don’t fit into our schedule or budget.
One student recently asked me for some suggestions for audio recordings for guided yoga at home. I did a little research and compiled the list of resources below. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but there is plenty there to get you started.
Some thoughts on yoga videos: While DVDs can be very useful, offering us helpful visual cues for proper alignment, and providing inspiration as we watch master teachers move with grace, they are not always practical or desirable. Many of us spend way too many hours plugged into our computers, iPads, and televisions. Our yoga practice is an opportunity for a respite from staring at a screen. If you desire a guided practice at home, an audio recording might be just the ticket for you to unplug, and perhaps bring your mat outdoors to enjoy the fresh air, or light some candles indoors and enjoy a time of sanctuary from all your visual devices.
But what if you don’t have time each day to follow a guided routine that may be up to an hour and a half in length? While using media for practice can be immensely helpful , developing a self-guided Sadhana (spiritual practice) is a way of meeting our individual needs and cultivating tapas--loving self-discipline and motivation, or inner fire. To learn more about the yogic observance of tapas, click here.
A home practice session does not need to be as long as a class, although it’s wonderful if you can take 75-90 minutes for your Sadhana. You can enjoy much benefit from a half-hour, and once you find the groove of your routine, it will be something you will crave, like a half-hour date with your Beloved.
So what can you do in that precious half hour? Below is a suggestion for how to divide up the time. If possible, use a timer with a soft sound to gently ease you into the next phase. I use the timer on my ipod with the harp setting, which is a lovely, non-jarring sound.
3 minutes centering and deep breathing, setting intention, and or prayer
17 minutes asana
3 minutes savasana (or some restorative pose)
7 minutes pranayama and meditation
Feel free to tweak this to meet your own needs, which may vary from day to day. If you are feeling tired and stressed and want to do a longer relaxation, it’s fine to shorten some of the other segments. If you have a lot of nervous energy, you might benefit from a longer, more vigorous asana flow (note: sometimes it is most beneficial to do the opposite of what your body says—engaging in a few minutes of power vinyasa can be very effective in shaking off sluggishness; a series of long-held restorative postures can nourish your yin when you are feeling excessively yang). Part of yoga practice is learning to tune in and listen to the shifting and changing energies in your body and mind.
Exactly what you do during that half-hour is not really as important as consistency--developing a regular, committed practice. In other words, do it every day, or three times a week, or whatever you have set as a reasonable expectation for yourself. The” 7-5-4” rule is a helpful guideline that my coach shared with me: if you can do it 7 days a week, that’s awesome. If you can do 5 days, that’s really great, and 4 times a week meets your minimum requirement. So, aim for 7 and be satisfied with 4. And, if life deals you a wild card that makes it so you can’t practice for a whole week, serve yourself a healthy dose of self-love and forgiveness. You are human.
Home Practice Resources:
Yoga Journal website: Here you will find ideas for sequencing, detailed descriptions of poses, and downloadable videos.
Kripalu Shop: Peruse their catalog for a wide selection of instructional audio cds, DVDs with master teachers, and music to support your home practice.
YogiTunes: A fabulous resource for yoga music. They have both a download store as well as a subscription service, where you can get playlists of fresh remixes by master DJs that specialize in music that has just the right vibe for yoga.
Podcasts: Need a little yoga fix in the middle of a busy day? Check out these "Yoga Break" mini podcasts from the faculty at Kripalu Center. These 5-minute podcasts are free to download, and are a wonderful way to gently refresh and revitalize yourself anytime during your day. Yoga Journal also has a series of podcasts, offered in both audio and video versions, that are 20-30 minutes in length and available for free through iTunes.
Finally, I’ll close with a mantra that honors our own inner teacher, which is That which we show up for on the mat each day. May your sadhana be enjoyable and fruitful.
Gurur Devo Maheshvara
Gurur Devo Maheshvara
The Guru is Bramha (the creator)
The Guru is Vishnu (the Sustainer)
The Guru is Shiva (the Transformer)
The Guru is truly the Supreme Absolute
To that Guru I bow