Many of my retreaters have been asking me to recommend options for yoga at home. I guess I’ve been hesitating since I have mixed feelings about home practice (as it’s known in yoga lingo). As a yoga teacher I worry about not being there to assist. Or is that the control freak in me rearing its ugly head again? OK regardless I am going to take the plunge and hopefully help guide you to some good suggestions for safe and rewarding yoga at home.
Let me preface these suggestions with a few things. Firstly, my home practice mainly consists of the Ashtanga primary and second series. If you don’t know what I am talking about, let’s just say that the foundation of my practice happens to be this style of yoga, but the main reason I do it on my own is that it is easy. Not physically (OH no), but in that there is a road map to follow. I know where I am, where I’m going, and when I’ll be done. I don’t really teach yoga this way; I prefer to be more creative and develop unique sequences that are customized to the group I am teaching. However: I cannot teach MYSELF like this. It’s not fun. So, I have found some good ways to mix it up at home. These selections reflect my yoga history, my yoga teaching, and my yoga training. I also feel strongly about using only audio CDs, to maximize focus. You don’t have to worry about watching, listening, and doing yoga all at the same time. If you are a beginning yogi, listen first without practicing to become more familiar with the practice, since you won’t have the benefit of any visuals. Or, go through the practice the first time without any expectations other than to learn the sequence.
So all that said, here goes:
Baron Baptiste – The Yoga Bootcamp Box. While I don’t necessarily recommend the idea of doing a bootcamp by yourself, the tools inside this kit are a good representation of this style of yoga and make it easily accessible to the home practitioner. It includes: flash cards of all the poses taught (a great resource to have); a workbook; and 2 audio CDs, one with a 75-minute vinyasa flow and another with 3 20-minute sequences. It’s all very straightforward instruction, with no background music. Good, clean yoga. I always feel energized and refreshed after this one. Check it out at amazon.
Jivamukti Class for Busy People. Jivamukti Yoga was my first yoga in NYC, and like a first love, it will always be near and dear to my heart (even though Montana is far, far away from anything remotely Jivamukti-like). Their sequences are always challenging and inspiring; this one is a nice short length for busy days. It’s a great yoga quick fix. Things to keep in mind, if you aren’t familiar with Jivamukti: strong vegetarian message (you can skip over it, of course); heavy use of Sanskrit, so if you aren’t familiar with the asana names, you might have to do a little homework; headstand is held for 50 breaths and shoulderstand for 75. Yikes, you say – well, I think this is one of the reasons I really like their CDs. It forces me to reap the many benefits of the king and queen of asana, which should be held for much longer than others. Work up to it, it’s really worth it. And did I mention the funky music? You can shop other Jiva titles here, including beginner CDs that come with a DVD or instructional poster; you can also download from here.
Jivamukti Backbending. This is my other Jiva staple, and those of you that have taken my yoga classes know that backbends are my favorite. This is a long, strong practice, so make sure you have a good chunk of time to fully appreciate it, and expect to flow quickly and energetically. And yes, headstand for 50 breaths and shoulderstand for 75 here too. It’s a kick ass practice and you will feel like you can do anything afterwards. Hhmmm, perhaps I need to take my own advice and do this one more often!
David Swenson Ashtanga Yoga. I’m breaking the audio-only rule, but with good reason. I mentioned that Ashtanga is the backbone of my at-home practice, and I’m a firm believer in this style of yoga as a foundation for almost anyone. Basically if you can practice some form of Ashtanga, your resulting strength level will carry over into any other style, and any other activity. David Swenson is another no-nonsense, super-clear instructor who is easy to follow and absolutely amazing to watch. So go ahead and get the First Series DVD, but you can also order the audio too; if you’ve never taken an Ashtanga yoga class, please do the DVD.
There you have it. I’ve shared mine, now what about yours…? What are your fave at-home practice DVDs, CDs, or other inspirations for yoga at home? Do tell.