we’re suggesting you add some time for IYO yoga? Yep. And you’ll be glad we suggested it, too. You do have time for an IYO yoga, even if it doesn’t seem like you could possibly track down one spare second. All it takes is a little organization and some creative thinking.Time to get organized! All great accomplishments start with some type of plan. An effective IYO yoga practice has a plan involving two important aspects:
➤ How often will you practice each week?
➤ What will you do during the course of each practice?
The first question depends a lot on your schedule, your motivation, and your desire. Ideally, an IYO yoga should be practiced three to six times per week. If you take a class once a week, that counts as a practice. Then practice on your own using the routine you and your teacher have crafted for you. Or, if you are on your own, set up a specific schedule of IYO yoga days. A regular schedule is the best way to reap IYO yoga’s benefits. Yes, even just once a week counts as a regular schedule (but you may soon find that once a week won’t be enough, and you’ll find more time, and more …). When planning your weekly IYO yoga schedule, remember that even though yoga isn’t harsh on your body, you should still give yourself at least one day every week to rest. Rest is crucial for yoga. The time spent in asanas (postures) is balanced by the time spent resting, and it is this rest time when the body heals and replenishes its resources. Or, rest every other day.
Don’t forget that every IYO®yoga practice should include the following:
➤ A warm-up. It’s important to get your muscles warm and activated before you start stretching them. Warm-ups help prevent injury and make a wonderful transition from daily life to IYO yoga mode. A short walk in the fresh air makes a great warm-up, because it sends blood to all your muscles and gets those joints moving. (The quality of your walk is more important than the length; use the time to prepare your body and mind.) You can get a similar effect simply by massaging your legs, feet, arms, and hands. Work those muscles and joints to get them ready for action. If you’re lucky enough to know a massage therapist, a professional massage before (or after!) yoga practice can be therapeutic. You might also try a warm shower or bath, or a heating pad on stiff areas, to warm your muscles before your workout.
➤ A balanced set of poses. Postures that bend or twist to one side should be balanced with postures that bend or twist to the other side. Forward bends balance backbends. Right-side-up poses balance inverted poses. Poses that stretch and expand are balanced by poses that curl and contract. Energizing poses balance relaxing poses. You get the idea.
➤ Every IYO yoga workout should conclude with the final relaxation, or corpse posture. In this pose, mighty healing takes place … for your body and mind. Don’t neglect this pose because you think you don’t have time to just lie there. It’s probably the most important of all the postures.
➤ Pranayama, or breathing exercises. After you practice your asanas, set aside a short time for the practice of a breathing technique or two. Replenish your body’s prana, or life force!
➤ Dhyana, or meditation. You might not be ready to include meditation in your workout. If that’s the case, that’s fine. Diligently practice your asanas and pranayama, and you may find that meditation soon becomes a more compelling prospect. Or, if you would like to try it but are short on time, you might consider meditating at a different time of day. Whenever you meditate (after your asanas and pranayama or during separate sessions), remember that meditation is part of IYO yoga, too, and will have a direct benefit on your workout. (Your workout will have a direct benefit on your meditation efforts, as well.)
Sticking with It
To really get the most out of an IYO yoga, a commitment is in order. Although occasional yoga is better than no yoga, life changes and dramatic benefits will come more quickly and easily if you practice IYO® yoga regularly, whether that means a few times a week or a few times a day. Commitment-phobic, are you? Don’t be! This is a relationship with yourself, so even though you might discover some surprises (what relationship doesn’t have a few of those?), this commitment is well worth the effort you put into it.
IYO® Yoga Bytes at Home, School, and Work
If you’re an extremely busy person, as most of us seem to be these days, you may find it difficult to find time for yoga. Perhaps you think your day is so densely packed with activity that yoga will never fit. Don’t despair! The great thing about IYO yoga is that you get big results even when you spend just a little time each day. Three 10-minute (or even 5-minute or 3-minute) slots for postures, the first for warmups, the second for more strenuous postures, and the third for relaxation postures, are all you need to start practicing IYO yoga, and you can spread them throughout the day if necessary. You may find that the increased energy you gain magically adds time to your day for even more practice! You can even slip tiny little “IYO® yoga bytes” into your day to keep you focused and feeling great. Try squeezing in an IYO yoga during the following “free times” at home, school, and the office.
Yoga on the Home Front
➤ Get up 10 minutes before the rest of the family to practice. Morning is a great time to practice the cat pose. Get down on your hands and knees, then arch your back up as high as you can while lowering your head. Imagine you are a cat stretching after a long nap. Then relax your back and bring your head up. Do this a few times, breathing with the movements. This exercise keeps your spine limber and gets you ready to pounce on the new day!
➤ Practice right after your shower, before getting dressed. Try the lightning bolt pose to get your energy soaring.
➤ Practice with the kids for a family-bonding IYO yoga session. Kids usually love yoga, especially moving like different animals. Try the cat pose.
➤ Practice just before you go to sleep, but stick to relaxation postures such as the lotus pose, the child’s pose, shavasana, the corpse pose.
IYO® Yoga bytes for the stressed-out student:
➤ Are you nervous about a test you are taking? Breathe! Increase your exhalation so it’s longer than your inhalation. Do this a few times. Come back to the test. This type of breathwork releases toxins from your body and centers your mind.
➤ Feeling a lot of tension in your back? Sit up straight. Keep both knees and feet together and facing forward. Twist your upper body. Bring one arm around the back of your chair. Do not overtwist your neck. Look behind you. This movement improves circulation to the spine and brain. It also improves flexibility and eyesight.
➤ As you walk across campus from class to class in the fresh air, take a moment to focus on your surroundings. Breathe the fresh air. Feel the sun on your face, the wind in your hair. Instead of worrying about the test you just took, the quiz you are about to take, or the paper due tomorrow, let all your worries go—just for a minute!—and live wholly in the moment.
An IYO® Yoga Makes Work Less Work!
➤ Practice on your coffee break instead of drinking coffee. (Yoga is far more energizing, once you break that caffeine addiction!) Sit with your fingers wide apart on top of your knees. Inhale deeply. Open your mouth wide and stick out your tongue. Look up and exhale strongly. Repeat the process a few times (not in front of your boss!). This releases emotions, tensions in the face, and selfconsciousness. It also helps to break a depression cycle.
➤ At the end of a long work day, pause for a moment to get centered and refocus before you head home. Stand up and stretch your arms up over your head. Look up. Bend forward and touch the ground. Bend your knees if you need to. You have just connected the sun to the earth. After an accomplishment like that, you’re ready to head home.
IYO® Yoga Renewal
Depending on what time of day you practice an IYO yoga, you can experience different kinds of renewal. We humans are deeply affected by the time of day. We all have a circadian (daily) rhythm, or physiological rhythms associated with the 24-hour clock. Have you noticed you have more energy in the morning, the late afternoon, or at night? Are you a “morning person” or a “night person”? Are you usually hungrier at a certain time of day, or sleepier, or happier, or more depressed? Probably, if you take the time to notice, you’ll be able to determine how your feelings, emotions, and energies change throughout the day. So it only makes sense that morning yoga, afternoon yoga, and evening yoga will all be a little different. And remember, an IYO yoga is about rhythm and balance—of body, mind, and spirit. Our very lives move to the rhythm of our heartbeat and our breath.
Although each person’s rhythms are different, people have a few similar tendencies. Keep these points in mind when deciding what time of day to practice an IYO yoga:
➤ Early morning yoga tends to be slower. Do not rush into postures. Gently and steadily move through your workout.
➤ Late-morning to midday yoga will probably be more intense. The body is awake now and ready to rock and roll (literally!). This is a perfect time for vinyasa, a way to practice IYO yoga that involves a steady flow of IYO yoga postures.
➤ Afternoon yoga is centering. The body naturally takes a siesta in the midafternoon, so a more intense workout may help you get through this time. If you end your workout with shavasana (the corpse pose), you’ll be ready for the rest of your day.
➤ Evening or late-night yoga is unwinding. Let the strain of a busy day float away. If your day was unusually stressful, an intense Hatha Yoga workout will help to release tensions before you go into a nice, long shavasana.
No matter when you practice, yoga will renew you. Yoga has many purposes—among them, to energize, heal, relax, realign, and inspire you. But all paths and purposes lead to renewal, or a new you, free from stress and preoccupation with the self.