Wherever you go... there you are

travelling yogi

As I sat in the air-conditioned, windowless studio after a class this week my mind started to wander to all the places I had been to over the years. There have been many journeys and as I reflected I realised that each one had involved practicing yoga. Sometimes as I stand in warrior pose I imagine the view of those beaches, mountains, rivers, hotel rooms, camp sites... From the first class I took in Australia to the first adhoc class I taught in Austria that made me realise wanted to follow this path, yoga has been part of my life and my adventures.

We often travel to explore, sometimes to get lost, sometimes to find something, sometimes to relax, sometimes to get some adrenaline. Wherever we go, we are always there - there's no running away or hiding! This realisation that wherever I have been yoga has also been with me was a comforting one.

I used to think that my surfboard was the perfect travel companion. To some extent I still do! But like most activities, it is dependent on lots of variables that are outside of my control. In some ways I love this, but in other ways it can be frustrating. The reason, for me, yoga is such a powerful tool is because it doesn't rely on any variable. You don't even need a yoga mat. You can practice 'yoga' sitting on a crowded train just by focusing on your breathing. All you need is yourself.

As a teacher, this is the lesson I try to give my students. Be guided by me, but not reliant on me. Practice in your own way, when you can and when you need to. Yoga is an amazing tool for relaxation, self acceptance, strength, patience, commitment... the list goes on... it can also be extremely empowering! 


Top tips for cultivating a home practice

home practice yoga

For many, rather than regularly practicing at home, yoga is confined to 1-2 hours a week as a way to de-stress, unwind and as an active recovery day. The saying 'little and often' is so relevant  when it comes to yoga but it's difficult to find the time, the space or the discipline to practice outside of the yoga studio. So I have compiled a few tips to help you to cultivate your own home practice:

Time: Set your alarm clock just 10 minutes early and do a few rounds of sun salutations before you start the day, or take 5 minutes at lunch time to quietly sit with your breathing. Finding a set time and sticking to it every day will help you to create a routine. 

Place: This is often tricky, so try to find a quiet spot in the house or at work (I have been known to practice in the bathroom!) where you can switch off for a few minutes. If you are lucky enough to have a spare room or space you can dedicate to yoga that's great, but if not sometimes just setting the scene with some music or incense can help claim the space. 

How long: Your body and mind will benefit from just 5 minutes of focusing in on itself. You can practice for 2 hours if you want, but for most of us who have families and jobs it's just unrealistic to expect to be able to do this every day. Set yourself a goal that you can achieve - 10-20 minutes is fine, and you can always make time for a longer practice once or twice a week. 

Which asana?: It can be really difficult to choose which asana or pranayama technique to practice, especially if you are a beginner. I have always enjoyed practicing Ashtanga at home because I don't have to think about what comes next, I just follow the sequence, and the structure really helps me. There are also countless online classes that you can take on Youtube and on various websites. When I feel like a more playful practice I will often follow one of these, and I love learning new ways to practice an asana. 

Choosing the correct asana and pranayama require knowledge and understanding - if you really want to deepen your self practice I would suggest taking a few workshops that delve into the world of yoga! It is a subject which constantly has more to teach, and through practice and self enquiry you will always be learning. 

A home practice is great because it is something that you are able to do yourself, to yourself, without needing anyone or anything. This is the reason I started teaching yoga - I wanted to be able to give this gift to other people. Whether you want to become more flexible or manage your stress levels yoga is an amazing tool. You have the ability to access this tool whenever you want... so get practicing!!