How to keep up your Yoga Practice during the Festive Season

Our Yoga practice needs to fit into the different phases of our year. It is often that we have just built up a certain degree of discipline and regularity in getting onto the yoga mat, when the next holiday or a particularly busy time in our life comes up. We become concerned or even anxious about losing our well established routine. So how to go about adapting your current practice when you only have a restricted time available, a different, maybe smaller space, a different daily schedule where your usual practice time is being taken up by something else or you may be eating foods you are unaccustomed to?

Rather than looking at the changed circumstances as obstacles to your practice, regard them as a playground on which you can explore how Yoga can support you in everything you do in life, and how it always fits in perfectly and is supportive of whatever activity you are pursuing.

The most important thing is to keep practicing very regularly! Modify the length and intensity of your usual sequence of postures to suit your circumstances. Rather than not practicing at all for a week or two, practice only the sun-salutations and some breathing as a minimum, several times a week. The ideal would be daily, with one day a week of rest. In terms of the selection of postures, basically stick to the structure of the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga sequence of a devotional ‘warm-up’ – Surya Namaskara the sun-salutations, then standing postures, seated postures with some forward-bends and twists, backbends, inversions, breathing and resting.

If you are travelling, find an even surface to practice on. Be careful with spongy, deep carpets, they can put strain on your wrists. If you didn’t bring a travel yoga mat, you can use a big towel to make the surface non-slip.

If lying with the legs up the wall is part of your usual practice, do this instead of ‘inversions’. And when away, practice near a wall if possible, or even a wardrobe door might do. Be creative. Otherwise replace this posture by lying on your back joining the soles of the feet with the knees out wide. If you wish, place a cushion underneath each knee.

General guidelines

  • Practice according to the sequence of Ashtanga Vinyasa – as explained above – to keep your spine happy
  • If you are reducing the amount of postures you are usually doing, leave out the difficult postures, and practice the simpler ones only.
  • Stick to the postures you are comfortable with and feel confident in.
  • Less is more
  • Always include some breathing at the end and some time to rest.

Modified practices

There are many different ways of adapting the practice to your needs. If in doubt, ask us first!

Remember to practice only what you are familiar with and confident in.

Abbreviations used:

SNA & SNB – Surya Namaskara A & B

Padmasana – refers to ‘your lotus’ posture, which might be sitting simple cross-legged

VK – Viparita Karani = legs up the wall

 

10 Minutes Practice

SNA x 3

SNB x 1

Standing forward bend (Padangustasana)

Vinyasa through to sitting

Padmasana – twist to right and left, then breathing

Rest for 1 minute

 

20 Minutes Practice

SNA x 3

SNB x 2

Standing forward bends (Padangustasana & Pada Hastasana)

Triangle and Revolved triangle (Utthita Trikonasana & Parvrtta Trikonasana)

Wide legged forward bend, one variation only (Prasarita Padottanasan A-D)

or another standing posture of your choice

Seated forward bend (Pascimottanasana)

Backbends x 3 (Setu Bandhasana – this is the one where your shoulders remain on the floor)

Hug knees to chest

VK – 2 minutes

Breathing – 2 minutes

Rest – 2 minutes

 

30 Minutes Practice

SNA x 3

SNB x 2

Standing forward bends (Padangustasana & Pada Hastasana)

Triangle and Revolved triangle (Utthita Trikonasana & Parvrtta Trikonasana)

Wide legged forward bend, one variation only (Prasarita Padottanasan A-D)

or another standing posture of your choice

Seated forward bend (Pascimottanasana)

Purvottanasana

Janu Sirsasana

Marichyasana C

Backbends x 3 (Setu Bandhasana – this is the one where your shoulders remain on the floor)

Hug knees to chest

VK – 3 minutes

Breathing – 3 minutes

Rest – 3 minutes

 

1 Hour Practice

Practice everything as you usually do, until 35 minutes into the sequence. Then start with your backbends and the usual finishing series. Always end with breathing and in this instance, 6-8 minutes rest.

 

It is important that you always have a sense of spaciousness in your practice. The last thing you want when being pushed for time to begin with, is to rush.

When I am in an unfamiliar space to practice, I like having something near me, which carries the connotation of the sacredness of the practice; a little statue, a candle or even just my yoga mat or a shawl around my shoulders for the finishing breathing.

Ashtanga Vinyasa is the best practice! You can take it with you wherever you go, and feel at home.

Happy practice, and lots of it.

OM Shanti,

Angelika

p.s. There is still some time left before the holidays, to come in to practice with us and try out some of the above sequences to familiarize yourself with this. When attending one of our classes we are very happy to give you further advice as to the sequencing of the postures suitable for your ‘whole’ being.