How to Start Your Own Yoga Practice


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A good yoga flow is a lot like a three-course meal at a nice restaurant.

After teaching yoga for almost seven years now, I’ve decided that a good yoga flow is a lot like a three-course meal at a nice restaurant. I mean think about it, you arrive at the restaurant, get seated and comfortable. You pause to look over the menu and see what your body is craving to eat before placing your order. You begin with a light appetizer that warms you up for the rest of the meal but doesn’t fill you up too much. The main course comes out and is comprised of different elements that come together in a cohesive and delicious way. And finally, you finish with something sweet that puts you in a good mood for the rest of the night! 

I recommend following a similar formula to create your own yoga flow at home.

Step 1: Arrive & Pause (aka Get Seated & Look Over the Menu) 

Arrive on your mat in a comfortable posture and pause. Tune into your breath and take inventory of what’s going on in your body. Gently begin to move your body and see what comes up. How is your body feeling? Where does it feel tight or sticky? Does it feel tired or energized? Decide how you can give your body what it needs today. 

Recommended Postures: Child’s Pose, Cat & Cow, Modified Plank, Modified Chaturanga, Baby Cobra, Downward Facing Dog, Ragdoll Forward Fold 

Step 2: Warm-Up (aka Appetizer Course) 

Begin to warm your body up and get your blood flowing with some Sun Salutations. Sun Salutations are an excellent way to prepare your body for the rest of your practice by warming your muscles up and encouraging you to more deeply connect your breath with movement. Just remember, like a good appetizer doesn’t fill you up too much before the rest of the meal, you do not want to expend all of your energy at this point in your flow. Don’t go full out during your Sun Salutations. Conserve enough of your energy for the rest of your practice.

Recommended Sun Salutation Sequences: Sun Salutation A, Sun Salutation B, Sun Salutation C (Sun Sal A & C are less intense and require less effort than Sun Sal B and are best for beginners.)

I recommend following a similar formula to create your own yoga flow at home.

Step 3: Main Sequence (aka the Main Course)

Now your body is ready to go deeper into postures that require more strength, flexibility, and effort. For this part of your flow, I recommend focusing on either an area of your body or a particular type of posture or skill you want to master. For example, the focus could be hips & hamstrings, so you would incorporate poses that focus on strengthening and/or stretching those areas of your body. Or the focus could be working on a skill like arm balances, so you would incorporate poses that more specifically prep the body for arm balances and include one or a few arm balance postures.

Recommended Postures: Warrior II, Extended Side-Angle, Triangle, Wide-legged Forward Fold, Crescent Lunge, Twisting Crescent Lunge, Standing Leg Split, Tree Pose (You can pretty much include any posture in this part of the practice—these few are foundational poses that will work a lot of different muscle groups and can prep the body well for almost anything.)

Step 4: Cool-Down & Savasana (aka Dessert) 

Slow down and ease out of the main sequence with some more easeful, gentle postures that focus on flexibility rather than strength. This will help cool your body down and prepare it to fully relax in savasana. Savasana is always an amazing final posture and I recommend almost always ending there so that your body and brain will know that when you’re there, it’s time to fully release and rest.

Recommended Postures: Seated Forward Fold, Bound Angle (Seated or Lying down), Head to Knee Forward Bend, Half-pigeon, Legs Up the Wall, Supine Twists, Happy Baby, Savasana 

Whether you’re an experienced practitioner or beginner yogi, this simple formula provides a solid scaffolding off of which you can build your own yoga flows from the comfort of your own home. If you’re newer to yoga, I definitely recommend mastering the postures on their own before trying to sequence them yourself into a flow! However, once you’re familiar with the foundational poses, get on your mat and start experimenting and playing! Remember, your body is your ULTIMATE yoga teacher. Listen to it, give it what it needs, and see what creative flows it will guide you through all on its own. Namaste!

What yoga posture do you want to master?

Image via Dane Wetton


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