By Silje Wamnes
We are living in a time like no other and each one of us is finding our way in this new rhythm of daily life. Embracing a new normal sure ain’t easy, but this time presents the opportunity shake bad habits and create better ones, as we let go of the hustle and bustle and look for a more introspective way of life.
This is where yoga comes in! A mix of gentle movement, dynamic poses, meditation, philosophy and even a bit of singing; it’s great for recalibrating body, mind and soul. The amazing thing about yoga is that can be practised by pretty much anyone regardless of age and experience, requires very little space and equipment and as little as 10-15 minutes per day can make you feel awesome. Dogs, kids and grandparents are all welcome! No excuses.
Whether you have practised before, or if you are saluting the sun for the first time, here are three tips on how to start an at-home yoga practice today.
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1. Find your flow
Luckily, starting a yoga practice does not require much and if you already have a yoga mat, you’re pretty much ready to go. It is definitely possible to start a practice without a mat, but if you can get your hands on one it will certainly make your journey a bit easier. *Beginner’s tip: remember that what type of mat you have doesn't really matter, what matters is that you have a place to start, don’t get hung up on the details!
Comfortable clothing that is easy to move around in will also make your practice a whole lot more enjoyable. Make sure you’re not wearing anything too tight across your waistline as you want lots of room to breath. Take advantage of the privacy and dust-off your favourite sweatpants with the awkward holes in them, dress it up or dress it down, everything goes. This is your time!
Lastly, make sure you stay hydrated, try not to eat within one hour before your practice and take a bit of time to set the scene before you step on your mat. Lighting candles, burning essential oils or sticking on the relaxing Nightcap playlist can help you find your happy place.
2. Get into the science
Did you know that yoga is scientifically proven to make you feel great? Yoga comes with a large number of proven and proclaimed benefits so understanding those - and noticing when the magic happens - is key to making this part of your daily routine.
Feel more zen. Yoga can help you lower stress and relieve anxiety and by practising the combination of mindful breathing and movement you can help calm down the body’s nerve system. By doing so you could improve sleep, which in itself helps prevent stress… and so it goes, like a magic circle!
Strut your stuff. Yoga can help you increase flexibility and mobility, improve balance and maintain or build muscle mass. It can also be a great tool to manage aches and pains, in particular, lower back pain. What’s not to love?
Get connected. Yoga is made to help you practise the ability to stay in the present moment. With times like these where life can feel very uncertain, it is important to try not to wonder too much about the future or dwell in the past, but to take one day after another and stay in the moment as much as possible. The yoga practice is designed for you to practise exactly that.
3. Pause to catch your breath
Contrary to popular belief (thank you Instagram!) yoga is not about spandex and contortion. Yoga is simply the practice of combining movement and postures (‘asanas’ as they are called in Sanskrit) with the breath. The breath is where you find the magic!
But how? A good place to start is to practice breathing slowly in and out of the nose (if possible) while allowing your whole upper body to inflate like a balloon as you inhale, and then slowly deflate as you exhale. There are of course many different breathing techniques you can practice and there are plenty of resources online where you can learn more, but if you are new to the practice your goal should mainly be to just create more awareness around your breath. Observation is key in all things introspective.
Top take-out: The world of yoga is about as diverse and varied as the people who practise it, so try to stay patient and take the time to find a practice that suits your style. Aim to get some of the basics down and leave room for creativity and a sense of playfulness. At the end of the day this is your time, your body, your mind and these are the things you actually control, so care for them well.
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