When & Where To Practice

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Try to practice yoga every day. Set aside a time when you will not be disturbed and you will not have to rush. It is best to practice yoga on an empty stomach. Wait at least two to three hours after a large meal, and one to two hours after a lighter one or a snack before beginning.

Practice regularly, even if it's only a few minutes every day. If done every day or nearly every day, even 10 to 15 minutes will help build concentration, increase flexibility and strengthen willpower, making it easier to practice the next day. Consistency is key. If possible, establish a regular time of day to set aside for practice. Morning or evening practice is advised.

Practice when your body is most limber. Some people find their bodies are stiff in the morning, making practice more difficult. Night practice, however may limit the kinds of postures you do as some are too stimulating and affect asleep. The key is regularity. Enjoy whatever time you have set aside for practice. Most yoga instructors believe that there is more benefit to doing a brief practice regularly than hit-or-miss home practice sessions, sporadic class attendance, or the occasional workshop. The greatest and longest-lasting benefits are achieved when at least 3 or 4 yoga asanas are done every day.

Most experts recommend a minimum of 10 minutes of practice every day. However, to practice a range of postures and incorporate breathing or meditation, 15 to 25 minutes is necessary. These brief practice sessions should also be interspersed with longer sessions several times a week.

Where to Practice
For practicing indoors, you will need a clear space with no furniture. Select a place with enough space where you can stretch upwards as well as to the sides for standing and floor postures. The room should be comfortably heated and well ventilated. When relaxing you can cover yourself with a blanket if you get cold.

Set aside a special place to practice. Turn off the radio, TV, and telephone, and set the answering machine volume to the low setting. Minimize distractions. Clear the room of pets and kids, if possible. Locate a level surface. A bare hardwood floor is ideal, but if your feet slip, use a sticky mat. If practicing on carpet, choose an area with a tight weave, such as Berber.

A yoga mat or exercise mat is good to provide a warm, cushioned, surface. A small firm pillow or folded blanket is helpful for seated postures if your hips, lower back and hamstrings aren't very flexible. Also a long strap, bathrobe tie or belt is helpful to use to stretch the hamstrings in either a seated or supine position. If you use props: mat, pillow, blanket, cushion, strap, wooden blocks, folding chairs, blankets etc.; store them together and set aside or bring to the practice area before beginning. If practicing outdoors, select a shady spot with plenty of room to move. Dress accordingly.

How to Practice
Bare feet are ideal when you practice yoga and actually serve a dual purpose. First, you need to have traction for the standing poses so that you won't slip. Second, working without shoes helps you fully exercise and articulate your feet. An exception to this would be if you doing a practice on a cold floor and you need socks for warmth.

You do not need any special clothing for yoga, but what you wear must be comfortable, warm but not too warm, and allow the maximum range of movement. Clothing such as: leotards, cotton tights, bike shorts, loose T-shirts or tank tops would be good. Bulky or overly loose clothing will only get in the way. If you have long hair tie it back, so it does not interfere with your asanas. Keep a sweater close by in case you start to feel cold.

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