Today’s post gives you the 6 key areas you want to include in your at-home yoga practice
When yoga instructors think about what they’re going to offer in a practice, there are areas to cover that are essential to creating a balanced session on the mat. I’m going to share these with you so you can start your at-home yoga practice right away!
This post is part of an At-Home Yoga Series. To see the other posts in this series, click HERE!
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Here are the points you want to “program” into your yoga at-home practice:
- Movement of ALL your joints through their full range of mobility.
- Access through each plane of movement.
- Attention to opposing muscle groups.
- Core and spine strengthening movements.
- Varied positions as a base for your movement.
- Balance practice!
At-home yoga focusing on range of mobility
For this post, we’re looking at the physical benefits of yoga. That, more directly, is keeping your body moving and functioning at its best for as long as possible. This is a primary focus for me, and I believe for many who regularly take time on their mat to practice.
To do this, the first component of your at-home yoga practice is to move ALL of your joints. That means every single toe and finger along with everything in between will be taken through their full range of mobility.
Flexion and extension of each joint, along with the rotation of the hip and shoulder in circles, are vital to keeping your body moving through the years. Basically, if you don’t use it then you’ll lose it! We don’t want that, my friend!
It doesn’t really matter, within reason, what you do … simply move each and every joint to its full extent. Be sure to start small so your body warms up before you jump into your full range. Ouch is the consequence if you don’t! That’s the first focus of your at-home yoga practice.
building on using planes of movement
Now take this flexion and extension through the various planes of movement. You don’t need to get hung up on details of what the multiple planes are called.
In a nutshell, there are 3 planes of movement.
- Forward and backward movements.
- Side to side movements.
- Twisting movements.
You know the phrase, “Dance like no one’s watching!” That’s it! As you’re flexing and extending those joints, and making circles with your hips and shoulders, do it in all 3 planes of movement.
Nobody is watching, and if they are WHO CARES! Put a big ol’ smile on your face and show them how great you feel. Maybe they’ll join in especially if you put on some fun music!
for at-home yoga, OPPOSITES attract
Maybe that’s not quite true. They don’t attract BUT you need to keep them working together.
Think of your muscles like a Marvel Comic. There are always heroes, hero sidekicks, and villains.
Your main muscle groups are the heroes. For fun, let’s say our heroes are your biceps and quads. They save the day!
They have sidekicks (aka synergists) who help out A LOT! You don’t really need to be worried about what or how they’ll do it. They just always seem to know how to help.
The villains, however, need your devoted attention. In our example, the villain of your biceps is your triceps; and for the quads, it’s your hamstrings.
These guys work in opposition to the goals of the biceps and quadriceps. If not working properly, they can create a big problem for your heroes. That means that any time you work your heroes, you also need to give due time to your villains (aka, antagonists).
You can pick days of the week to focus on your superheroes. So maybe today, it’s the biceps and tomorrow will be the quads. Just make sure to protect your good guys by also paying attention to their villains! (They aren’t really villains, of course)
everytime you hit the mat – get to the core!
Yes, you should be doing core work every single time you get on the mat. Actually, every pose requires attention to your core so this can happen really easily.
This doesn’t mean you have to do 300 crunches each day!
You can hit the core in lots of ways. Just think about this ONE tip:
INhale to expand.
EXhale to contract.
So even if you’re just sitting in SIMPLE SEATED POSE (sitting on the floor with legs crossed), you can use your breath to guide a core workout. Engage your core with each exhale. Simple right!
Adding on to this, you also need to give attention to your spine each and every time you’re on the mat. There are four parts of your spine (in simple terms): pelvis, lower back, rib cage, neck. These aren’t anatomically what they’re called but how most people think of them.
The spinal joints of the pelvis are fused in place and don’t move.
The lower back is a tricky devil and can cause a LOT of people trouble, including ME! Oy!! The lower back is where your rotation at the waist comes from.
Your rib cage (and pelvis) is key to understanding how to move your body. The spinal muscles have shifting capabilities in this area (thoracic spine) yet because of their relationship with the ribs, not much.
And the neck. Our poor neck, right. So many injuries here. They have a BIG weight to carry all the time. That being your noggin! So be sure to give lots of love to your neck. It can twist, flex, and extend. Do so with care! I often use my hands to support this movement.
These are the keys to remember:
- Lengthen – Move your ribs away from your hips and your ears away from your shoulders without flexing, extending, or twisting. Just UP (or if you’re on the floor, out).
- Flex, Extend, and Twist – This is part of our first component, yet I’m reminding you here. Take your spine through its FULL range of mobility using the planes of movement.
shake it up and try different foundations
If you’re new to yoga, you might instantly go down to the floor. Or maybe you think about standing poses. You’re RIGHT!
Get on the floor. Stand UP. Put weight on your hands. Try it ALL!
One thing that you might resist is getting inverted. First, once you practice inversions, most people LOVE them.
BUT I get it. Inversions (going upside down) can be scary. If that’s you, then I have one for you to try today.
With your back and head comfortably on the floor,
put your legs perpendicularly up the wall!
That’s it! It’s a totally legit inversion for you to try. Easy-peasy!
Inversions are great for blood-flow and for your digestive system. So be sure to add them to each practice.
They also give you a whole new perspective on how you see your house, which can be interesting too!
Life is a balancing act, at-home yoga is there to help
I don’t mean metaphorically, I mean literally. Moving our body throughout the world (both inside and outside your four walls) takes balance.
Just imagine a baby learning how to walk. It’s tough!
As we get older, there is a LOT more risk of hurting ourselves when we lose balance. For this reason, you need to practice keeping your balance every single day.
This doesn’t have to be complicated. Stand on one foot! Stand on the other foot!
If you’re on the floor in table-top, lift up one arm or leg and then do the other.
All of this is really important and it can be fun, so again, DANCE LIKE NO ONE’S WATCHING!
at-home yoga practice, is just that
You might be wondering, if you’re new to the world of yoga, why it’s called a “practice”?
There are a lot of ways to look at it but for today, let me just say this …
YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT
TO BE BEAUTIFUL!
Even yoga masters struggle in different ways. It may be a challenge to move your body in one way. Or maybe, you just wake up feeling tight.
Yoga, whether at-home or in a studio, isn’t about being perfect. It’s about showing up and practicing.
So when you think to yourself, “I’m not flexible enough” or “I’m too old” or “I’m too uncoordinated” none of that matters. You’re not expected to be ANYTHING other than YOU! Just get on the mat and move!
At-Home Yoga – next up …
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