Anyone will tell you that it is very difficult to practice yoga by yourself. Even those who teach cannot, even if they want to, practice regularly at home. The obstacles are many: the commitments, the fact that at home there may not be a protected place where no one disturbs us, the telephone can ring, and more generally you cannot carve out a “moment all to yourself”. To succeed, you must first insert the space of yoga into the daily routine .
Just as we always manage to find time to brush our teeth or prepare food, we should do the same with yoga . This is why it is better than at the beginning this moment is short, 10-15 minutes maximum: with time, if anything, we can increase it, but in the meantime we will not be frustrated for not having found an hour of time for personal practice.
So let’s start with a low profile, on the basis of contentment ( santosa, which among other things is one of the indications – yama and niyama – on the conduct of life proposed by Patanjali in his fundamental text, the Yogasutras ).
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are the main theoretical and spiritual foundation of a very long tradition of philosophical practices and world views that are summarized in the word word yoga yoga. The text contains two hundred aphorisms, deals with ascesis, meditation and the path to follow to obtain an authentic knowledge and mastery of the experience of oneself.
We choose a quiet place, without distractions or particular smells, which is always the same. This will give stability and security to the practice. Regularity ( abhyasa ) is one of the guarantees of success: better half an hour every day at the same time than two hours every now and then .
The ideal would be to practice all ‘ open air , or at least in a ventilated room, for sure after changing the air. Without shoes, with comfortable clothing, new (i.e. different from usual, dedicated to yoga) and with an empty stomach. We will breathe through the nose, unless otherwise indicated, for this we will blow our nose before starting, as well as we will have emptied the intestines and bladder.
The best time is in the morning , before breakfast, when the mind is at its quietest. Or in the evening, before dinner, and in this case we will do the relaxation exercises first.
We choose the sequences that adapt to our body, to being a man or a woman, to the time of day, to the season, to the mood of the moment.
Also in this case it is better to start with few expectations and without exaggerating .
It would be nice if this moment was repeated every day, always at the same time, in the same place, with the same type of clothes, to create a cherished habit. We take into account that each of us is different and since we have the privilege of creating a lesson just for us, let’s use it! If a position is difficult for us, for the moment we choose another one: we can return to that after a few days of practice.
If while practicing emotions emerge (fear, anger, joy) do not be frightened and continue.
Yoga frees, through the movements of the positions, emotions stored in the physical body: everything is normal, breathe. Try to stay in the present moment: afterwards you will think about the work that awaits you , the children to take to school, the housework… in this moment , time is everything for you , and it is the present.
Try not to think that you would like to be different from how you are, with a more flexible body, with a deeper breath, or as you were when you were younger… by understanding the present moment you can progress.
Lack of discipline and self-confidence can be obstacles. The first is resolved by inserting the practice into a daily routine , as we have already said. Self-confidence will come… by practicing discipline !
If we started from a point possible for us, without overdoing it, without thinking of doing an hour of practice every day, without having reckless ambitions, it will be more difficult to be disappointed. Let us remember that expectations are the mothers of all disappointments .
You can choose some positions from the classes you attend (if you do), the ones you like or remember best. You can also ask the teacher to let you write a sequence that you particularly liked – in my lessons many pupils take a piece of paper and write down the names of the positions, then go home and repeat a few.
More generally, to create your own lesson, you can follow a scheme in 5 moments:
It is desirable that the practice is not necessarily only “on the mat”, but becomes part of our life : in this way we will be able to practice breathing consciously while we wait at a traffic light; we will be able to stand with our backs in a certain way while we wait in line at the post office; we will know how to improve balance by traveling on the tram or how to best keep your arms on the handlebar of the bike while pedaling.
One thing I often do is recite a mantra: “I relax my shoulders”. You have no idea how often we keep our shoulders unnecessarily contracted! Am I washing the dishes? And why are my shoulders level with my ears? Am I typing on the computer, like right now, and keep my back up? Instead: I lower my elbows, open my shoulders and lower them. I write even better!
With listening – the rule before yoga – with patience, with repetition, with non-violence, gradually the apparently bodily behaviors will become the rule, I will always know which muscles to actually use and which to relax, for a more equitable distribution energy, without wasting it and sending it only where it is needed.
You can rely on good books, good manuals and ready-made sequences that seem suitable for you: they will be very useful.
However , practice will tell you much more about yourself than a thousand courses and a thousand books. Stay with you, practice, listen, observe, remember, practice, practice, practice… and you will see!
If you use a book, don’t forget to read the General Warnings , before venturing into positions that have visually attracted you!