My own private yoga

Written by Kelley Davis.


Once when I was teaching a yoga series for a well-known Fortune 500 company, I had missed a week. When I returned the following week, one of the employees who had participated was less than Zen-like about my absence.

“I could not get to my bliss last week,” she said with a disappointed look on her face. I told her, though, that no matter where you are, who is around or who is not around, you always have your yoga practice with you. Indeed, you can do your yoga practice before you get to work, I suggested.

But how do you design a yoga practice? Before beginning any form of exercise, check with your doctor to ensure that it is medically right for you. Then consider a beginner’s class or DVD to see if it’s physically (and philosophically) right for you. Yoga classes welcome observers and newbies, because — and this is one of the great things about yoga — it’s always nonjudgmental.

Once you’ve decided on yoga as a discipline for life, you should:

Designate a space. Whether it’s a room or a corner of one, make sure it’s a quiet place and large enough to put down your yoga mat.  Look at this area as your personal tranquility zone. You can fill it with serene pictures, soft pillows and other objects that remind you of your intentions for this space, along with flowing sounds or music. Pandora has a great selection of yoga music.

Set aside morning time, if possible. The hours between 4 and 8 a.m. are considered a sacred time for doing yoga. Allow yourself at least 10 to 30 minutes a day to feel the effects of this discipline.

Select your accessories. Wear loose-fitting clothing. Pick a yoga mat that’s comfortable for you. Apply some essential oil to your wrists or place a favorite aroma dispenser in your room. I recommend a refreshing citrus scent like orange or lemon for the morning hours and soothing lavender for the

Choose your postures. In the morning, focus on three or four postures that make you feel empowered while also creating a calm mind set, like cat stretch, downward facing dog, forward bend, tree pose and proud warrior. Doing the sun salutation allows you to combine many of these poses, or asanas, in a flowing series.

In the evening, after a long day, I recommend restorative yoga postures like child’s pose, the Maltese cross and corpse pose. As always, you want to remain connected to your deep breathing.

I can remember a few years back when one of my friends was practicing yoga and always complained about doing the classic hatha yoga postures. She just did not like doing them, but she loved meditating.  I told her, “OK, then start there.” Designing your own yoga practice is really about what calls to you. Whether you are new to yoga or you practice regularly, it really doesn’t matter. You are always at the center of your practice.

I was taught that yoga was never designed to be complicated.  One of my hatha yoga master teachers, Sri Swami Satchidananda (founder of Integral yoga), would always say, “Keep your yoga practice easeful.”

After all these years, I have found that advice to work best for me.


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