Ashtanga Guru Pattabhi Jois' most famous quote is “Practice and all is coming”. With these words, I believe he means that by consistently opening the body and mind through yoga, truth reveals itself to you in time, and with truth comes a deep peace.
For many of us, a regular yoga practice may be a difficult thing to establish. Here are some tips to help you get started.
1. Create a comfortable spot for your yoga practice
If you have an extra room that you can devote to your yoga, great! Having your yoga mat unrolled and out all the time is certainly inviting.
Most of us, however, have to be more flexible and create a space when we want to practise. Try and find a spot where it's peaceful and quiet, with as much space around you as possible. An empty piece of wall can be handy too since the wall is a great prop. If you like, it can be nice and even helpful to create some atmosphere with a candle or an incense stick.
Things like candles and incense are just extras, and by no means necessary to practise yoga. You can do yoga anywhere as long as you have enough space around you without the risk of bumping into tables, chairs, etc. I've practised in the living room with my husband there, having his breakfast and reading the paper, even commenting now and then. Not ideal, but I still got my practice in, which is the most important message of this article.
So be creative and get on your mat no matter what! Create the best space you can and enjoy your practice!
2. Get your yoga accessories
All you really need is a yoga mat, preferably non-slip. The yoga mat market is huge but it's worth paying a little more for a good quality mat that suits your needs and will last a long time. Blocks are a great addition but they can be replaced with books and other household things. A bolster is also nice to have, but for years I used a stack of pillows and blankets instead.
Accessories or even a yoga mat are by no means a prerequisite to practise...Just be creative!
Accessories and even a yoga mat are by no means a prerequisite to practise: I have been in places where there was no yoga mat, and I found a piece of carpet to practise on. I've even practised on beds in hotel rooms where there was no space to roll out a mat. Just be creative... no excuses :-)
3. Stay safe, prevent injury
This is one tip with no shortcuts. Always watch your boundaries and especially be mindful of your body’s vulnerable areas. Particularly vulnerable areas are knees, hips, spine and neck. If you feel any painful sensations, adjust, soften, come out of the pose if you need to. Don’t force or push.
Warm up your body properly before attempting more advanced poses, and keep checking in if it feels okay to be in a pose. Be especially mindful during transitions between poses or when moving in or out of poses - these are moments of a potential risk of injury because we tend to pay less attention to our alignment.
4. Choose your yoga style / routine
What are you going to do when you are on your mat? The first question to ask is..... “What do my body and mind need?”
Something active like Vinyasa Flow, to get the juices flowing or something more soft and restorative, to quiet your body and mind? The more you do yoga, the more you learn the effects of different practices and the more you learn to recognise what it is your body and mind need at different times.
If you pick an online class, don’t get stuck in reading too many class descriptions. The nature of the mind is to look for the perfect class to solve everything. That class doesn’t exist; you have to make it yourself.
If you pick an online class, don’t get stuck in reading too many class descriptions. The nature of the mind is to look for the perfect class to solve everything. That class doesn’t exist; you have to make it yourself. You can also decide to pick a yoga programme where we've put together a series of classes that fit well together or choose from Playlists, playlists of classes your fellow members and EkhartYoga teachers have compiled.
Pick a style, teacher, specific use and preferred class duration (or any one of these combinations) from the filters on the classes page, look for a title that speaks to you and go for it! The way you make the class perfect for you is through practising with full awareness, with as little resistance as possible. If there is a part you don’t like, breathe through it and observe your reactions. Remember that how you react on the mat seeps through in how you react in daily life. In daily life, you will also come across situations you don’t like and choose not to change or are unable to change. Remember Pattabhi Jois' words - “Do your practice and all is coming".
Remember Pattabhi Jois' words - "practice and all is coming".
In time, your yoga practice on your mat will teach you to surrender more and more to what is. You will learn to stop resisting what is and to stop trying to change things. Next, you will be able to apply that perspective more in your life off the mat. The peace that comes from being able to accept what is will be great, I promise.
5. Always relax with Savasana
It is really important to give your body time to relax in Savasana after a yoga practice. The nervous system needs time to assimilate the benefits it has gained during the practice. You can otherwise feel unnecessarily wired after a yoga practice, especially after an intense yoga class.
6. Practise yoga regularly
Even practising yoga once a week is beneficial! Three times a week is great, every day is great too. What works for you? If it’s very important for you to achieve goals, then it is much better to set a goal of practising three times a week, being able to do it and feeling proud of yourself, than to set a goal to practise every day and feeling bad if you do only three times a week. A feeling of failure usually just makes you skip practices even more. So, be honest, set realistic goals, and do what you can. A 10 minute yoga practice is still a practice and definitely counts.
7. Enjoy your practice!
Don’t overdo it; if you don’t enjoy your yoga practice you will never keep it up. It should be something you look forward to doing. Maybe try another style of yoga or teacher if you feel like yoga is becoming a chore.
8. So get on your mat, practise, and all will come...
Try this Esther Ekhart's Morning Joy class for free with a 14-day trial membership
A perfect morning class for the first day of our 30 Mornings of Yoga programme. Not too easy, not too hard, gets the job done of getting the energy to flow and to wake up all the body parts. Everything you need to start your day off right is in this class, including setting an intention. Enjoy!
New to yoga?
*This article, originally published in March 2013, has been updated.