Saturday, April 19, 2014

Encouraging Students to Safely Practice Yoga at Home

safely practice yoga at home
By Gopi Rao

Unfortunately, I have met teachers who purposely discouraged experienced students from practicing at home.  They pointed out that improper alignment could ruin a practitioner for life. In fact, they preached that practicing Yoga without one's teacher could be a "game ender." Some of us believed it until the Internet made information easy to obtain. Suddenly, people were sharing information free. The magazines, studies, and research, rained down from cyber space and some of us started to realize that we had been misinformed. The world would not end if we practiced Yoga alone.

As teachers, we should encourage a safe home practice and we should let our students know what do do. Luckily, students find information freely, but we should let our students know about the best and most reputable yoga sites.  The following is a check list for our students. Please feel free to add anything that would be useful in the comments section.



Strengthen Your Home Yoga Practice

If you practice yoga, you’re already familiar with its many benefits. Sometimes, however, you may feel like you're stuck or that your practiced has plateaued. In class, the instructor can point out areas where you need improvement. But what about when you’re practicing on your own? Here are some tips to strengthen your home yoga practice.

Get in the Right Mood

Your frame of mind can help you improve your practice. Doing your workouts in a relaxed state of mind is always better than feeling stressed or pressed for time. Doing a short meditation before doing yoga can help. Playing soothing music and having pleasant scents in the house can also get you in the right mental state.

Stay in the Moment

Being present is one of the fundamental principles of yoga. At the same time, this isn’t always easy. When your mind wanders, however, it’s difficult to get the maximum benefits from the postures. It’s really difficult to get the most out of your practice if the TV is on or you have YouTube videos playing in the background. For each posture, focus on your breathing and pay attention to the parts of your body that are being stretched.

Pay Attention to Your Diet

Both yoga and a healthy diet can have a beneficial impact on your health. There can also be a connection between the two. When you have an especially good yoga session, think about what you’ve had to eat or drink that day. The same is true for when you feel sluggish or less flexible than usual. The usual culprits for weakening your practice are sugar, alcohol, too much caffeine and junk food. However, you may have your own food sensitivities that help or hurt your practice.

Some people find that they can help their yoga practice by taking certain nutritional supplements. For example, taking a joint flexibility supplement containing MSM, chrondroitin and glucosamine may help your joints get more flexible. Another thing that can help is keeping your body well hydrated with water and other healthy beverages.



Don’t Try to Force a Breakthrough

While you should always challenge yourself when practicing, you should never try to force things. This will only create tension and increase the risk of injury. Everyone’s body is different. Don’t try to compete with people who are more flexible than you. You get the most benefit from a posture by finding the right balance between relaxation and effort. Yoga is not a competitive sport where you can quantify your progress. As long as you’re making the right amount of effort for you, you’re moving in the right direction.


These are a few of the ways that you can improve your home yoga practice. Keep in mind that you, like everyone else, will progress at your own pace. Trying to rush things is contrary to the spirit of yoga. At the same time, you can often improve your practice by making a few simple changes.

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