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How to Practice Yoga at Home

Updated on April 14, 2012

Benefits of Yoga

Yoga has many benefits. Overall it helps tone and strengthen the body, sharpens the mind through concentration, and brings inner peace to our beings.

I always feel incredible after practicing yoga, but I don't always have the time to attend an instructed class. Below is a basic sequence that you can practice in the comfort of your own home. If you prefer to listen to an audio file or watch a video to practice yoga, there are some suggestions to accessing these resources at the bottom of the article.

"If you look after the root of the tree, the fragrance and flowering will come by itself. If you look after the body, the fragrance of the mind and spirit will come of itself."
B.K.S Iyengar

Origin of Yoga

Yoga originated in ancient India over 2,000 years ago. The Sanskrit word, yoga, comes from the root, "yuj" meaning "to unite". I have provided both the Sanskrit words and the English translation for each of the postures in the photographed sequence.

Preparing for Your Practice

It is important that you set aside a time in the day that you know will be uninterrupted. This can be challenging. I find that the early morning or evening times are best. Note that in the early morning, our bodies tend to not be as flexible as later in the day, so it is best to stay conscious of this to prevent injuries.

  • Find a quiet room and close the door.
  • Shut off your cell phone and any other electronics that may be disruptive.
  • Dim the lights to ease the body into a relaxed state.
  • Play peaceful background music to help distract a busy mind.

Yoga Props & Accessories

To follow the sequence below, you will need the following yoga props and accessories: 1 yoga mat, 1 bolster, 1 strap, 2 blocks, & 2 blankets. I also highly recommend an eye pillow for final relaxation.

Basic Sequence

Note: It's best to always check with your doctor before beginning any exercise regimen.

Supta Baddha Konasana
Supta Baddha Konasana | Source

Supta Baddha Konasana

This is my absolute favorite pose to help settle into the time and space I have dedicated for a yoga practice. It is a resting pose which is also helpful to practice during menstruation.

  1. Place a bolster vertically on your yoga mat.
  2. Sitting upright, bend your legs to the side and place the soles of your feet together (use blocks under your knees if the stretch is too much for your groin area).
  3. Place a looped belt around your waste and then over your feet (make sure the strap is facing you, so you can easily tighten after lying down).
  4. Extend your back and lie down on top of the bolster.
  5. Lift your pelvis and gently stretch your buttocks towards your feet, to release any tension in your lower back. Place your pelvis back on the floor.
  6. Extend your arms to the sides, palms facing up.
  7. Relax & breathe.
  8. Spend at least five minutes in this position to center yourself and arrive in your space. Ignore any distractions, both internal and external. If your mind is busy, just let all of the thoughts go, do not pay any attention to them.

Vrksasana/Tree Pose
Vrksasana/Tree Pose | Source

Vrksasana/Tree Pose

  1. Stand up tall on your mat with your feet together.
  2. Spread your toes wide.
  3. Make sure your lower back is not arched, tuck your pelvis slightly in to correct this.
  4. Breathe air into your lungs to stretch out your chest.
  5. Roll your shoulders back.
  6. Lift your chin, so it is parallel with the floor.
  7. Focus your gaze on a point of concentration.
  8. Slowly lift your right leg and place either above or below your knee, whatever is most comfortable. Be sure your hips are facing forward.
  9. Bring your hands in prayer position or stretch above your head.
  10. Stay for 10-20 seconds.
  11. Gently lower your leg to the ground and repeat all steps using the left leg.

Utthita Trikonasana/Extended Triangle
Utthita Trikonasana/Extended Triangle | Source

Utthita Trikonasana/Extended Triangle

  1. Stand up tall with your feet together in the center of your mat.
  2. Inhale and exhale, jumping or stepping your feet wide (approximately 3-4 feet, depending on the length of your legs) and extending your arms out to the sides.
  3. Turn your right (front) foot out, so that it is parallel with the mat.
  4. Turn your left (back) foot in slightly.
  5. Keeping your arms extended, extend your torso towards your right (front) foot, placing your fingertips on the floor or on a yoga block.
  6. Your left arm should be reaching towards the ceiling.
  7. Gently lengthen your neck and look at your left hand.
  8. Hold for 20-30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.

Virabhadrasana II/Warrior II
Virabhadrasana II/Warrior II | Source

Virabhadrasana II/Warrior II

  1. Stand up tall with your feet together in the center of your mat.
  2. Inhale and exhale, jumping or stepping your feet wide (approximately 3-4 feet, depending on the length of your legs) and extending your arms out to the sides.
  3. Turn your right (front) foot out, so that it is parallel with the mat.
  4. Turn your left (back) foot in slightly.
  5. Keeping your torso vertically aligned (do not lean), bend your right (front) foot, making sure not to extend your knee over your ankle.
  6. Be aware of balancing the weight of your body equally on both feet, making sure they are grounded to the mat.
  7. Gently turn your neck and gaze over the extended right (front) arm.
  8. Hold for 20-30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.

Adho Mukha Savasana/Downward Dog
Adho Mukha Savasana/Downward Dog | Source

Adho Mukha Savasana/Downward Dog

  1. Begin this pose "on all fours" with your hands and your knees on the mat.
  2. Spread your fingers wide.
  3. Slowly extend your legs, lengthening your spine and stretching your hips toward the ceiling.
  4. Be aware of keeping the weight of your body equally balanced between your hands and feet.
  5. Broaden your shoulders.
  6. Relax your neck and let your head soften between your arms.
  7. Breathe and hold your stance for 30-45 seconds.
  8. Release and come out of the pose the same way you got into it.

Balasana/Child's Pose (arms extended)
Balasana/Child's Pose (arms extended) | Source

Balasana/Child's Pose (arms extended)

Child's pose is a resting posture and is a great one to do after Downward Facing Dog. I like to keep my arms extended to stretch out the back muscles, but you can also relax them to the side.

  1. Begin on your hands and knees.
  2. Extend your hips back towards the soles of your feet, leaving your arms extended on the mat.
  3. Relax your neck and allow your head to release onto the mat.

Savasana/Corpse Pose
Savasana/Corpse Pose | Source

Savasana/Corpse Pose

You may be surprised to learn that Savasana is considered one of the most challenging poses in yoga. It is a disciplined awareness that requires practice and a quiet mind. If you have difficulty relaxing into Savasana, try listening to a guided relaxation or meditation.

  1. Lie flat on your back (if this is uncomfortable for your lower back, place a pillow or bolster under your knees).
  2. Relax your arms to the side, palms facing up.
  3. Allow your legs to relax and feet to turn out.
  4. Be comfortable and warm. I recommend an eye pillow with a relaxing scent, such as lavender and blankets if needed.
  5. Bring awareness to each part of your body and then let it go. This practice will ease any tension that may be present in your body.
  6. Remain in this pose for 5-10 minutes.

(half) Padmasana/Lotus
(half) Padmasana/Lotus | Source

Padmasana/Lotus

After final relaxation, it's nice to take a few minutes to reap the benefits of a yoga practice. Your body and mind should be feeling rested and relaxed.

Sitting in full or half Padmasana (Lotus) or cross-legged, if you prefer, and hands in prayer position take a moment to reflect on your practice.

Namaste.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Salamba Sarvangasana/Shoulder StandHalasana/Plow (chair assist)Maricyasana IIIExtended Uttanasana/Forward BendUrdva Mukha Savasana/Upward Facing Dog
Salamba Sarvangasana/Shoulder Stand
Salamba Sarvangasana/Shoulder Stand | Source
Halasana/Plow (chair assist)
Halasana/Plow (chair assist) | Source
Maricyasana III
Maricyasana III | Source
Extended Uttanasana/Forward Bend
Extended Uttanasana/Forward Bend | Source
Urdva Mukha Savasana/Upward Facing Dog
Urdva Mukha Savasana/Upward Facing Dog | Source

Additional Postures to Add to the Basic Sequence

I wanted to keep the sequence above simple and not too long, so it would be easier to establish a regular practice. As time allows and your dedication to yoga grows. Consider integrating the following postures into your sequence. See photos to the right for more details.

  • Salamba Sarvangasana/Shoulder Stand
  • Halasana/Plow
  • Maricyasana III
  • Extended Uttanasana/Forward Bend
  • Urdva Mukha Savasana/Upward Facing Dog


Resources for Practicing Yoga at Home

There is quite a variety of resources available today that provide free yoga classes. If you would prefer to have an instructor at a time that is most convenient for you and in the comfort of your own home. You should explore some of the suggestions below.

  • TV/Cable Network
    Check your local cable and tv listings for fitness channels. Many offer exercise videos at no additional cost to your current plan.
  • Yoga Video Games
    Both the Nintendo Wii and XBox Kinect video game systems have many fitness games available, including yoga.
  • DVD's
    There are a countless number of yoga dvd's available on Amazon.com, you should also check your local library to borrow videos before purchasing.
  • Apps for iPhone/iPad/iPod
    The app store has an unlimited amount of yoga apps for both free and purchase. Depending on your needs.
  • Podcasts
    Podcasts are a great resource to find guided meditations for final relaxation.
  • Online Videos
    Check YouTube for free yoga videos or try searching Google for "yoga videos".

Comments

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    • Cre8tor profile image

      Dan Robbins 5 years ago from Ohio

      I love this hub. Your pictures look just great and had me on the floor trying some of these. (of course my kids running around didn't give me the quiet you speak of) The poses though are great and helped to relieve a lot of tension in muscles I'd forgotten I had. Thank you for sharing. Voted up, useful and beautiful.

    • alliemacb profile image

      alliemacb 5 years ago from Scotland

      Great hub. I used to practice Ashtanga Yoga at home but have fallen out of the habit. Your hub has inspired me to get back to it. Voted up and awesome.

    • BigSerious profile image

      Christen Roberts Comer 5 years ago from Harrisburg, PA

      This is a great short series of poses. What I love best about it is that it shows you don't need a lot of space to practice yoga. I'm bookmarking your page on my browser so I can do it at home. I'm a stay at home mom and am looking for ways to get my body moving at home, that won't leave my child out. I'm sure he'd love to do some of these with me. :) Great hub. Thank you!

    • Nare Anthony profile image

      Nare Gevorgyan 5 years ago

      This is my personal hub of the day!!! So great! I love the detailed instructions and the awesome pics you have taken! I have always wished to try yoga, what a great chance!

    • veggie-mom profile image
      Author

      veggie-mom 5 years ago

      Thank you all for your kind words & support.

      @cre8tor - yes, achieving the mind relaxing portion of yoga is challenging with children around, but your body can still benefit and as BigSerious pointed out it is great to get kids involved.

      @Allie - it's amazing how easy it is to slip up on healthy habits, I am so happy to hear you've been inspired to practice yoga again.

      @bigSerious - you are right that you don't need a lot of space and it is great to get children involved at such a young age. My 6 year old enjoys practicing yoga with me and my 9 year old is very good at meditation

      @Nare Anthony - you are so sweet, thank you! I hope you enjoy the sequence.

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      My wife and daughter do yoga so these moves look very familiar to me. To be honest yoga has always intimidated me because I'm not a small guy, I'm six foot four inches tall. Would these moves all be considered "beginner" moves?

    • kevingourmand profile image

      kevingourmand 5 years ago from Cincinnati, OH

      This is a well put-together Hub! I especially like the fact that it looks like you've used pictures of yourself instead of just grabbing pix off the Internet! I've rated it up and I think I'll check out some of your other hubs later on this week. Thanks Veggie Mom! :)

    • kittyjj profile image

      Ann Leung 5 years ago from San Jose, California

      I used to go to the gym to do yoga, but practice yoga at home after I found a yoga program on TV. But I still couldn't do a shoulder stand like you. I really need to go practice more yoga. ;)

    • katecupcake profile image

      Kaisha Howell 5 years ago from Texas, USA

      This is wonderful. I have been doing my yoga from memory, and all I can do is a few poses and the usual sun salutation. Thanks for showing us some poses to incorporate!

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