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Om Sweet Om

May 3, 2010

There are many things that I’m  likely to practice at home on any given day: good personal hygiene, singing, strong ethics…but usually, and sadly, not yoga.  As my schedule and life have gradually spun out of my control, I think that my yoga scheduling, and thus practice, have suffered.  (Needless to say, of course I have therefore neglected DharmaChameleon…)

What say you is the answer to this mighty awful dilemma? A home practice? Well, bust my buttons…you just may have something there!

If home practices weren’t deceptively tricky, I would have already developed one by now. At this point in my yoga journey, however, it just may be the next practical way to continue to develop my practice. That’s hat they say, anyhow.

As always, I consulted “ye old” and handy Yoga Journal to see what they had to say about developing a home practice.  This publication seldom disappoints, and once again they brought to light a very thorough discussion of a topic I was looking to explore. Judith Lasater, Ph.D. breaks building  a home practice down for you into 6 easy to understand sections: planning your practice, basic pose groups, well-rounded practice, long range planning, pose/counter pose and harmonizing subtle energies.  

I will spare y’all a crass summary of the article, but what I’ve found most useful here is a few tidbits from each segment.

When you’re newish to yoga, or a least to building a home practice it is some times easy to forget that the asanas are generally (debatably) divided into 8 basic groups: standing poses, arm balances, inversions, semi-inversions (down dog), back bends, twists, forward bends and restorative. Interestingly enough I never stopped to think that down dog was a stand-alone category, but I guess the way she puts it makes sense.

Once you’re at home, on your own, surrounded by all of the distractions of your daily life, try as you might you cannot summon the contents of the series you just did the day before at a studio. Roll out your mat, breath deep and just try to do a few poses from each group. If you think hard enough, most of your in-studio series probably started with warm, kinetic, standing poses like sun salutations. These poses will help to warm the body, and focus the mind for the subtler poses that will require more focus and calmed energy. According to the article an easy sell for a series is as follows: standing poses, arm balances, inversions, backbends, twists, forward bends and then restorative. I have to say that as I run through some recent classes I’ve attended that this must be just a personal preference. In my experience it seems like arm balances and inversions are sometimes towards the end or interspersed throughout…but backbends are usually towards the end…and restorative is always last.

When you’re going through your finely tailored routine you may recall that some teachers will put counter poses in for balance (i.e. shoulder stand followed by fish pose). I think this is very common, but this article calls an interesting point up. Lasater asserts that perhaps we crave counter poses so much because we have not done the pose correctly in the first place and have strained something or compressed. Interesting, I say, very interesting. I’m no Ph.D. (yet) but I think she may be on to something. Instead of counter poses, she suggests trying lesser poses from the same series to balance and relieve any possible accumulation of unwanted pressure or compression.  Judith Lasater is blowing up the pose/counter pose spot! Blowing my mind!

Along with all the other meaty tidbits of the article there is the discussion of prana and apana. Pretty much, find out what those things are…and seek balance.

Finally, the article talks about long term planning: goals! Set them! Who doesn’t like goals? They give you direction, and who couldn’t use a little bit more direction in life? Ok, ok, so maybe not everyone is as much as a misguided drifter as I…but still goals are never a bad thing.

My first goal: start a home practice. Once I’ve got that I can, like, make actual goals for the direction of said practice that doesn’t actually exist at this point in time. But seriously, I’ve discovered that the yoga world operates on a strict schedule. There are no Saturday classes past 5 pm for the most part, and in Philadelphia it seems not past 10:30 am. Lame.

Basically what it comes down to is the fact that I want yoga all the time. No excuses. Have yoga mat, will travel. Or not.

[Image via: Pittman Properties]

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One Comment leave one →
  1. mamma permalink
    May 4, 2010 7:32 pm

    Newish? or Jewish?

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