Beginning any new activity can feel intimidating. Many people consider practicing yoga for years but find themselves putting it off because they don't know where to start. Some people are able to get started at studios, but others face barriers as varied as living far away from the nearest studio to feeling self-conscious about how they will look. Practicing yoga at home is wonderful way to incorporate practice into your daily life, but can be confusing for beginners, and even experts. These four tips will have you confidently moving forward in your home yoga practice.
1. You Are the Expert
You are the expert when it comes to your body. Yoga instructors are trained in the practice of yoga, and in general anatomy, but only you know the particulars of your own body and health. Yoga instructors will often ask practitioners to listen to their own bodies and to follow their own bodies’ cues. Only you know when a posture or practice feels safe and comfortable for you. Only you know if today is a day to practice a vigorous, energetic flow, or a calming, restorative one.
2. You Are in Control of Your Practice
You are in control of the direction of your practice, and you can change course whenever you need or want to. You have the ultimate freedom with this practice. Pause and take child’s pose or savasana whenever you need to do so, or switch to a completely different practice if that feels like the right thing to do today. Maybe today you feel like getting a workout. Or maybe today a guided meditation in a comfortable restorative pose is the right choice.
3. Expect and Embrace a Challenge
Yoga promises great rewards: comfort and ease in the body and mind, among many other benefits. And yet, in the moment, any yoga practice can feel difficult, demanding, and unrewarding. Notice how you feel after you practice. Do you feel better or not better?
4. Self-Care Leads to Compassion for All
Yoga teaches us to take care of ourselves and to provide ourselves with what we need moment by moment. This self-care practice can be the first step along the way towards a deeper practice of self-compassion, of trusting in the wisdom of the body, of understanding our intrinsic capacity for health and wellness, and of uncovering our own inner light and beauty. Self-care is not selfish. On the contrary, compassion for all beings must begin with compassion for the self; caring for others can only be sustained by cultivating this seed of compassion for the self. For some of us, self-care and self-compassion do not come naturally and are not easy. For some of us, this self-care is best approached as a practice; an intention we hold for ourselves, or a course that we set for ourselves as we begin this journey. At times we may veer off course, but we always find our way back to compassion with gentle determination and consistent practice.
by Jess H.