Yoga at Home – Things to Consider

Our Wirral Leisure Fitness Instructor Colin G has created this informative blog on things to consider when doing Yoga practices at home to ensure everyone is keeping safe while enjoying their practices!

Now that the gyms and leisure centres are all closed, practising yoga at home is your only
alternative. But I know from experience that this can be difficult to sustain. So, here’s a few
things to consider before you start. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it may help some of you,
particularly those with more experience.

ARE THEY QUALIFIED?

If you have decided to watch and practice yoga from the internet, then here are some
things you should think about:

  • The unqualified can create a yoga video and upload it onto the internet.
  • Just because the video has had thousands of views/likes doesn’t mean that it is
    safe and appropriate for your body.
  • Some videos contain very advanced postures/stretches which may only be suitable for practitioners with decades of experience.
  • If you are desperate to learn the Headstand, now is not the time to do it – do not try
    to copy the amazing yogi in the YouTube video! Wait until you can find a teacher for
    one-on-one instruction.

THE PRACTICE

I would not worry about trying to complete a 60 or 90 minute class. Instead, keep the
practice short but frequent. Aim for at least 3 practice days per week. Regular practice is the key to maintaining your flexibility and strength. Keep it simple, and practice what you know. Work a little bit more on the postures that you can do safely, but find difficult.

WARM-UP

Tell yourself that this is non-negotiable. It has been scientifically proven that warming the
muscles and joints through gentle movements of the torso and limbs reduces the risk of
injury. So, before you stretch take a few minutes to move your limbs and torso through
various, but gentle, movement.

BREATHING

Your rate of breathing is a good indicator of how you are performing. It should be slow and
relaxed, especially in a stretch. If your breathing becomes fast and laboured then you need
to rest or slow down your practice until your breathing becomes relaxed and steady again.

DON’T USE FORCE

Never, ever force yourself into a stretch/posture. Muscles will only stretch correctly when
they are warm and relaxed. If your muscles are tense and you then force them to stretch,
you may injure yourself. Always move into a stretch gently, slowly and cautiously. Be
constantly aware of how your body feels in the stretch/posture. If you feel pain or it just
doesn’t feel right when you come into a posture/stretch, then please stop doing it!

KEEP YOUR KNEES SAFE

Knees are a hinge joint. They allow your lower leg to move up and down in one direction.
Don’t twist your knees because it is very bad for them. For example, have you ever been
tempted to put your leg/legs in a Lotus, like the amazing yogini in the YouTube video? But,
your foot does not want to go over your shin or thigh? So you have to force it over?
Understand that every time you force your foot over your shin or thigh in the lotus posture,
a powerful turning force will be transmitted directly to your knee joint which may, one day
soon, cause your knee meniscus to tear! Once the meniscus is torn, only surgery can
repair it.

BEND YOUR KNEES

When you bend forward and rise back up, don’t forget to keep bending your knees! Unless
you are very flexible and strong, straight legs may lead to a lower back injury.

USE YOUR HIPS TO BEND FORWARD

Forward bends are initiated from the hips, not your lower back! Once your hips stop
moving forward, don’t be tempted to continue movement by bending your lower back.

BACKBENDS

Be cautious – your spine is important! As always, your goal is a very gentle stretch. Don’t
compress your lower back in an effort to get into a deeper stretch. And don’t hold your
breath in the stretch – keep breathing!

DO WHAT YOU KNOW

Practice what you know. Don’t try to learn new complicated and/or challenging postures
without the help of a qualified teacher. Furthermore, some of the advanced postures need
to be ‘spotted’ by the teacher, who will physically help you out of the posture, should
anything go wrong.

RELAX

Don’t forgot relaxation (Savasana) at the end of your practice.
It doesn’t have to be intense or of a long duration, but please try to keep a regular home
yoga practice, and you will maintain a lot of your current strength and flexibility. Then,
when the classes eventually resume, you will ‘hit the ground running’!

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