Fitness Magazine

Customizing Your Practice

By Ninazolotow @Yoga4HealthyAge
by Baxter

Customizing Your Practice

Dancers Practicing At The Barre by Edgar Degas

It is easy for us all to go to a class and be lead through a wonderful, balanced practice, but it’s quite a challenge for most people to come up with a similar practice on their own. However, one of the important advantages of practicing at home is being able to customize your practice for your particular needs and desires on a given day. But if designing a yoga practice from scratch is too overwhelming to consider, a good way first step is to tinker a bit with a practice that you found on our blog, elsewhere online, or in a book. It’s simpler than you might imagine!In this post we’ll make some basic recommendations for how you can customize any practice to make it:
  • More gentle
  • More vigorous
  • Shorter or longer
  • Adapted to your particular limitations
Making a Practice More GentleYou can make any practice more gentle by:
  1. For dynamic poses, do fewer repetitions, for example, do 3 rounds of dynamic Warrior 2 instead of 6.
  2. For static poses, use shorter holds, for example, hold Warrior 3 pose for 3 instead of 6.
  3. For restorative poses, extend your time in the poses.
  4. Leave out the most vigorous pose or poses from the sequence, either just skipping them or replacing them with gentle or restorative poses. 
  5. Between active poses, rest in Savanana or another resting pose.
Making a Practice More VigorousYou can take any practice, other than a restorative practices and make it more vigorous in the following simple ways: 
  1. For dynamic poses, add more repetitions, for example, do 10 rounds of dynamic Warrior 2 instead of 6.
  2. For static poses, extend your holds, for example, hold Warrior 3 pose for 10 or 12 breaths instead of 6. And instead of doing poses only once, you can repeat them a second of third time.
  3. Repeat a series of static pose an extra time.
  4. Add in any poses you feel are more vigorous for you, placing them after the warm-up poses and before the cooling down poses.
Making a Practice Shorter or LongerWe all feel the time crunch now and then, and, conversely, sometimes find that we have extra time on a given day. You can easily adjust the length of your practice depending on how much time you have to devote to it on any given day. To shorten a practice:
  1. For dynamic poses, do fewer repetitions. 
  2. For static poses, use shorter holds.
  3. Eliminate any poses from the sequence that are less appealing today. Just be sure to keep in at least some of the initial warm-up poses and at least one cool-down pose. 
To lengthen a practice:
  1. Lengthen your time in some of the poses, either increasing repetitions of dynamic poses or extending your holds in static or restorative poses. 
  2. Repeat your favorite pose or poses a few times.
  3. Add in more poses of the same type. For example, in a backbend sequence, add in more backbends, or in a strength building sequence, add in more strength building poses.
  4. Add in a short meditation or breath practice that is not in the sequence.
  5. Rest in Savanana or another resting pose between poses.
  6. Take an extra long time in Savasana.
Adapting a Practice to Your Limitations
Injury. You can still practice with an injury by adapting the individual poses to your limitations. For example, with shoulder injury, you can keep your arms down at your sides in many standing poses or practice the wall version of Downward-Facing Dog pose instead of the full version. For those poses you cannot adapt, you can simply skip them, for example, skip Plank pose with a shoulder injury. When you’re in the acute and recovery phrases of an injury, floor sequences and chair variations are good substitutions. 
Illness. When you are ill or recovering from an illness, focus on gentle, restorative practices until you recover. When you’re ready for a gentle practice, use our recommendations above to make your first active practice days easier.Disability. If you’re working with a longer-term disability, adapt your practice as we described for an injury. Because you'll be practicing this way for a long period of time, it may also be worth getting special guidance from a skilled teacher for creative ways you can adapt various poses to your condition.Have fun practicing! And don't be afraid to get creative.Subscribe to Yoga for Healthy Aging by Email ° Follow Yoga for Healthy Aging on Facebook ° Join this site with Google Friend Connect

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