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Practicing Yoga at Home: A 30 Day Yoga Challenge

Chet is a Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher and has been practicing yoga for over 15 years. He teaches three to four yoga classes per week.

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Going to yoga class once or twice a week is a the best way to start a yoga practice. A good yoga teacher will offer guidance and instruction, most likely better than you can find online or on a yoga DVD. Though there is no substitute for direct and personal instruction, if you want to deepen and further your yoga practice, in addition to going to yoga class, you need to start practicing at home.

Here is a gradual approach to beginning a home practice. The first day is less than a minute, but it will signify a commitment on your part. The best time to practice yoga at home is first thing in the morning, either before or after a shower, but definitely before breakfast. If you want to have a cup of coffee first, that’s OK. If you wait until the end of the day it’s too easy to make excuses and skip a day. Do your yoga in the morning!

Following are a series of sequences with yoga poses for beginners. Intermediate yoga students can add poses as they see fit. The sequences of yoga poses gradually increase from 30 seconds to 30 minutes worth of yoga to begin your day. Are you up to the 30 day yoga challenge?

Day 1

Set your alarm one minute early. That’s all you need for the first day, but it shows you are ready to begin a home yoga practice.

Tadasana - Mountain Pose and Urdhva Hastasana (side view)

Tadasana - Mountain Pose and Urdhva Hastasana (side view)

  • Tadasana - Mountain Pose

Stand with your feet together. Draw your knees up, lift your chest and take your shoulder bones back, but don’t let them hunch up. Bring your head back in line with your spine, and see that your lower ribs aren’t jutting forward. If viewed from the side, your ankles, hips, shoulders and ears should all be in line. Lengthen your arms, hands and fingers. Hold for thirty seconds.

  • Urdhva Hastasana - Arms Overhead

Stand in Tadasana. Slowly take your arms overhead without changing any other part of the pose. Your triceps, which are the back of your upper arms when your arms are hanging by your side, should wrap in toward your face. Hold for several relaxed breaths, then exhale your arms back to your side.

Days 2 - 6

For days two through six, the sequence takes from one up to five minutes. You can add a minute each day or jump right to five minutes worth of yoga for the morning.

Adho Mukha Virasana - Downward Facing Hero

Adho Mukha Virasana - Downward Facing Hero

  • Adho Mukha Virasana - Downward Facing Hero Pose

This is similar to what is commonly called child’s pose. Sit back on your heels with your big toes touching and knees apart. Walk your arms forward and fold deeply at the hips until your forehead touches the floor. Take your sit bones toward your heels and your chest toward your head so that the front body is long. With your hands shoulder width apart, press your palms into the floor and wrap the underside of your upper arms toward your face.

Adho Mukha Svanasana - Downward Facing Dog

Adho Mukha Svanasana - Downward Facing Dog

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  • Adho Mukha Svanasana - Downward Facing Dog

From downward facing hero, come onto your hands and knees. Bring your feet hip width apart, tuck your toes under and lift your hips high while straightening your legs. Reestablish the arm actions from the previous pose; press your thighs back to draw your waist long. Hold for up to a minute.

Uttanasana - Standing Forward Extension

Uttanasana - Standing Forward Extension

  • Uttanasana - Intense Stretch (Standing Forward Bend)

Walk your feet forward from downward dog, but keep your hands touching the floor, if possible. You can step your feet as wide as your yoga mat for your first uttanasana of the morning. If your hands don’t reach the floor, you can use blocks so the hands are supported. Draw your knees up, and lift your shoulders away from the floor; let your head hang.

  • Tadasana - see above
  • Urdhva Hastasana - see above

Repeat the above four poses from one to four times.

Day 7

Optional yoga vacation day! You are allowed to take off one day per week.

Day 8 - 13

Three of the basic standing poses are added to extend the sequence up to ten minutes. Increase repetitions of the standing poses as the week progresses.

  • Adho Mukha Virasana - see above
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana - see above
  • Uttanasana - see above
  • Tadasana - see above
  • Urdhva Hastasana - see above
Trikonasana - Triangle Pose

Trikonasana - Triangle Pose

  • Trikonasana - Triangle Pose

Stand with your feet wide apart, 4 ½ - 5 feet. With your left foot turned slightly in, turn your right leg straight out to the right. With your arms extended, exhale your torso to the right, folding deeply at the hip joint. Rest your right hand on a yoga block or your right leg. Keep your upper body turned toward the wall in front of you. After several breaths, inhale up to standing. Repeat triangle pose to the other side.

Parsvakonasana - Extended Sideways Angle

Parsvakonasana - Extended Sideways Angle

  • Parsvakonasana - Extended Sideways Angle

From tadasana, take the feet apart and turn your legs as in triangle pose. With an exhalation, bend the right knee and extend the upper body to the right. Place your right hand on a block or the floor adjacent to the outside of your right foot. Extend your left arm overhead in line with your left leg. As in triangle, turn the upper body forward. After several breaths, inhale up to standing. Repeat to the left side.

Virabhadrasana II - Warrior Pose Two

Virabhadrasana II - Warrior Pose Two

  • Virabhadrasana II - Warrior Two

Warrior two starts like extended sideways angle. When you bend the right knee, keep the upper body vertical. Resist the tendency of the pelvis to tilt forward. Look beyond the right hand, but stretch back through the left arm. Hold and repeat as with the previous two poses.

Repeat the above three poses (triangle, sideways angle, warrior two) one or two times.

  • Uttanasana - see above
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana - see above

Day 14

Do you need a yoga vacation day? This is your day off for the week.

Days 15 - 20 (up to 20 minutes)

Two more standing poses are added. Increase repetitions to extend the sequence gradually up to 20 minutes. If you like, add a brief savasana at the end of the sequence.

  • Adho Mukha Virasana - see above
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana - see above
Supta Padangusthasana - Reclining Big Toe Pose

Supta Padangusthasana - Reclining Big Toe Pose

  • Supta Padangusthasana - Reclining Big Toe Pose

Lie on your back with your legs extended and your feet together. Bend your right knee into your chest and hook a yoga strap around your foot. Extend that leg up, straightening your knee. Hold the yoga strap with your right hand or, if that is uncomfortable, with both hands. Keep the thigh muscles of both legs engaged; resist the tendency of the left leg to pop up off the floor. After several breaths, lower the right leg and switch to the left side. Work toward increasing the time you hold this pose.

What Style of Yoga is Right for You?

An overview of the primary styles of yoga.

  • Uttanasana
  • Tadasana
  • Urdhva Hastasana
  • Trikonasana
  • Parsvakonasana
  • Virabhadrasana II
Virabhadrasana I - Warrior Pose One

Virabhadrasana I - Warrior Pose One

  • Virabhadrasana I - Warrior One

Step your feet four to five feet apart. Turn your left foot in 45 - 60 degrees and your right leg all the way to the right. Revolve your hips and chest to the right. Bend your forward knee as you press into the back foot. Take both arms straight forward and over head. Draw your navel back to help keep your pelvis vertical. After a few relaxed breaths, lower your arms and turn to face forward. Repeat to the other side.

Ardha Chandrasana - Half Moon Pose

Ardha Chandrasana - Half Moon Pose

  • Ardha Chandrasana - Half Moon Pose