How to Practice Yoga on your Own

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One of my students recently asked me about a short sequence of poses to do for half an hour in the morning at home. Naturally I encourage all yogis to attend a private or group class to really get the most out of your practice. However the reality is that travel and busy schedules sometimes necessitate solo practice. For anyone interested in practicing yoga on one’s own, this is my advice:

There are a lot of great, free yoga podcasts on iTunes that have 30 minute yoga sessions. If you want to practice on your own, I’d suggest starting with a few Sun Salutation A (Surya Namaskar A) sequences and throw in some crescent lunges between vinyasas.

Here is a detailed description of the Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar A) sequence:

1.Come to stand in Tadasana with the hands in a prayer position at the heart

Inhale – Bring the arms out to the sides and up to Urdhva Hastasana

2. Exhale – Swan dive down, hinging at the hips, bringing the palms flat on either side of your feet to Uttanasana

Inhale – Come up to a Flat Back bringing the finger tips to the floor

Exhale – Bring the palms flat, forward bending again into Uttanasana

3. Inhale – Bring the right foot to the back of the mat, come up on to the finger tips into a low lunge.

4. Exhale – Bring the left foot back to meet the right coming into Downward Facing Dog

5. Inhale – Come forward to a Plank position

6. If you are a beginner:

Exhale – Drop to your Knees, Chest, and Chin

If you are more advanced:

Exhale – Lower down to Chaturanga Dandasana

7. If you did Knees, Chest, and Chin in the previous step:

Inhale – Come forward to a low Cobra

If you did Chaturanga Dandasana in the previous step:

Inhale – Come forward to Upward Facing Dog

8. Exhale – Back into Downward Facing Dog

9. Inhale -Bring the right foot next to the right hand into low lunge

10. Exhale – Bring the left foot forward next to the right and forward bend into Uttanasana

Inhale – Bring the arms out to the sides and up, reversing the swan dive to Urdhva Hastasana

Exhale – Come to stand in Tadasana with the hands in a prayer position at the heart

Repeat the entire sequence with the left leg.

So there’s a good start that is easy to memorize with practice. Add in a Warrior II lunge or Triangle Pose into the mix and end your standing sequence with a good, yummy hip stretch like Pigeon. Wind yourself down with Legs-up-the-Wall pose (Viparita Kurani) or an EASY backbend like Bridge or Fish. End your practice with a forward folding seated pose (Seated Forward Fold or Wide Legged Forward Fold) – especially if you do a backbend and then some sort of supine twist (jathara parivartanasana is my absolute favorite). As always, end with at least 5 minutes in savasana (corpse) pose.

As with all Vinyasa Flow, remember to move on the breath!

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