Yoga is the union of the mind, body and spirit expressed in motion, sound, meditation and community. This ancient practice of asanas (poses), meditation and gentle ritual will enrich your life and deepen your knowledge of your Self, while opening your spirit toward the world around you.
We recommend that you attend several live classes before you begin developing a home practice. Yoga studios will have all the equipment you require so you can try it out before investing in a yoga mat, blocks, bolsters and straps. Live classes offer the opportunity to learn proper breathing technique, which is crucial in the practice of yoga; live classes also give you the opportunity to develop proper posture and alignment, as the instructor will move about the class adjusting yogis/yoginis. Many studios offer a one-week/one month trial at a discounted rate, taking advantage of these is a great way to introduce yourself to yoga. We also recommend attending at least two live classes per month in addition to your home practice . Again, live instruction is ideal for learning proper alignment and also provides an opportunity to meet people in your local yoga community.
Once you decide to develop your home practice you will need the following:
Yoga Mat – sticky yoga mats are best, you can also use a pilates mat if you prefer a thicker surface to stand on; some prefer to do yoga on a cotton blanket, it is entirely up to you. The important thing is that your feet do not slip all over your yoga surface.
Yoga Blocks – these foam blocks are used to modify poses, essentially bringing the floor closer to your hands to enable you to maintain proper alignment, which is much more important than how far you stretch. You may also sit on the edge of a block to properly align your pelvis during seated poses. Blocks are recommended for beginners, but intermediate and advanced practitioners also find them useful for very challenging poses and days when you aren’t quite as flexible. We recommend that you start with two blocks. You can also use a stack of books about 3 inches high in lieu of blocks.
Yoga Strap – this is a thick cotton strap, similar to a Judo belt and is used to assist the yogi in challenging postures; most often used for hip opening poses and seated forward bends. Straps are also used for bound poses. The strap is held in the hands and usually wrapped around the foot, essentially acting as an arm extension. You can purchase straps at many yoga studios, online; or you can use a belt or a scarf.
Yoga Bolster – bolsters are cylindrical cushions about two feet long, usually filled with cotton. Bolsters are used for forward bending poses, for many restorative yoga poses, and as modification for certain relaxation poses (e.g., tucked under the knees during savasana). You can purchase yoga bolsters online, many yoga studios will have bolsters available, and may be able to order them for you if there are no yoga supply retailers in your area. If you do not have a bolster, you may also use a stack of blankets.
Meditation Cushion – a zafu or meditation cushion is not necessary but it is a nice item to have, sitting on the edge of the zafu is ideal for proper pelvic alignment and ease of posture when meditating. If you do not have a zafu, a firm cushion or pillow will work as well.
It is always best to purchase good quality yoga props and supplies, but you can improvise with household items while you are developing your home practice.
Unlike other forms of exercise, yoga is an entire system of self-care that addresses the mind, body and spirit. There is no competition in yoga, especially with yourself; it is important to be aware that this is YOUR practice and YOUR time, you need only be present in the moment and the motion, surrender to the passage of time in this sacred space; accept yourself, breathe in love and joy. Be aware of the breath, if you cannot breathe deeply and smoothly, ease your position in the pose – remember that there is no competition in this space, surrender to your body and breath. When you are preparing to move into a pose, be aware of your body, take the shape of the pose, delight in the forms your body takes, and luxuriate in the feeling of natural movement. Modify the poses as you need to in order to maintain proper alignment and easy breath. Resist the urge to push further than the body wants to go, your body will move you deeper into the practice when it is ready. If you feel tired during your practice, sit back into childs pose and rest – do not rush, there is time. There is no pain in yoga. Breathe.