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yoga-web1RISMEDIA, April 22, 2009-(MCT)-Yoga’s gentle, healing nature can alleviate stress. Sitting, lying or standing on a mat forces the body to slow down and moves the brain away from life’s distractions to a point of mental clarity.

“The human brain does not multi-task very well,” says Carlyle Chan, professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Wauwatosa, Wis. “The people who say they do so are not exactly accurate. When you are at the office and your phone rings, you get distracted. That’s just the way the brain is structured.”

“Yoga focuses the mind on something else and helps you reset,” Chan says. “The more you do it, the more effective it is.”

In today’s frenetic world, where finding time to visit a studio might multiply the stress, an at-home practice could be good medicine.

Before flowing through poses in your living room, take a few classes with a certified yoga instructor. The more confidence you have in the poses and postures, the better chance you’ll be able to focus and practice with safety.

To ensure you have props for yoga at home, invest in a mat, strap, blocks (either wood or foam) and a thick, woven blanket. Practice in your bare feet and wear comfortable, tighter-fitting clothing.

“Start today. Don’t wait until you have the perfect setting,” says Marietta Pucillo, owner of Yama Yoga in Milwaukee’s Third Ward. “As long as it’s a place to give you peace, it will be OK. Accept that wherever you are today is perfect. That’s the principle of yoga, anyway.”

Here are some ways to create a yoga space at home:

Clear out a dedicated space- Whether it’s a spare bedroom or a new area that opens up when you move the coffee table, the space should be free of magazines, toys and other clutter. Keep the room’s temperature warm so muscles are completely relaxed. You should be able to reach your arms and legs in all directions and not touch any walls. Linoleum or hardwood flooring is fine if you are on a mat, Pucillo says, but rugs or carpeting is better for postures and sitting poses.

Set aside a specific time- Instead of just adding “practice yoga” to an evolving to-do list, pick a time of day and stick to it. Incorporating yoga into your morning routine or bedtime rituals is one option. Not scheduling a time – but showing dedication – works, too.

Invest in a virtual instructor- As lovely as it would be to hire a private instructor to drop by every week, that probably isn’t economically feasible, but many respected yoga instructors lead virtual classes on DVD. Buy a few different videos so you don’t get bored with the same routine.

Say no to distractions- It can be easy to become distracted, even if you view something out of the corner of your eye, but you must not give in to distractions. Don’t have a phone in the room either. If the phone can’t be moved, turn the ringer off during your session.

© 2009, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.