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How do you approach your yoga practice? Do you simply flop down on your mat and ‘whoosh!’ find your state of calm? While a yoga mat does have a similar aesthetic to a magic carpet, you do need to come to the mat with a little fuel of your own to get you where you want to go with your practice.

Setting the stage for practice will help you get the most out of your 22 minutes. Preparation for yoga doesn’t have to take a lot of time. The process itself can be relaxing and restorative. You can also use this time to get a few things done to speed you through the rest of your day.

Stop for a minute and assess your physical self. How do you feel? Are you cold? Are your muscles tighter than normal? A warm shower may be just the thing to put your body in a better place for practice. Consider adjusting the temperature of the room you will practice in, which may be a speedier solution if time is an issue.

Think about what you are wearing. Is it appropriate for your needs in practice today? If you are too warm, think about changing into a lighter shirt or trading long pants for shorts. Make sure your clothing is comfortable and doesn’t hinder your movement. Conversely, your clothes should not be so loose that your shirt is around your shoulders when you are lifting into one-legged down-dog! The texture and fit can also come into play when attempting more difficult postures, such as crane balance. Something too loose or a slippery textile may make it harder to stay in a pose.

Turn your attention to the room you will practice in. What’s going on in there? If there is clutter that will distract you, take a few moments to reclaim a sense of order. What sounds do you hear? Don’t be afraid to ask your housemate in the other room to turn down the television if it will disrupt your concentration – it’s only for 22 minutes! If you are fortunate enough to have a water feature such as a table fountain, turning this on may also help you tune out extraneous noises and tune into your practice. Are there children or other people buzzing around? You might invite them to practice with you, or make them aware of your intention to practice so they can extend you the courtesy of a peaceful space.

Is the lighting too bright? Make use of any dimmer switches you may have to set the lights to a soothing level. You may also choose to turn a few or all of them off and light a candle or two. Candles can provide a wonderful focal point for meditation also.

What do you feel in the room? Is there a breeze that will make you uncomfortable? Aim air from windows, fans or heating units in a more preferable direction. How does the floor feel? You may consider adding an extra carpet or towel to your yoga mat to compensate for a too cold or too hard floor. Consider also having a blanket available to stave off chills while in Savasana. Place your DVD remote nearby, in case you want to pause the sequence to enjoy a pose or meditative moment a little longer!

Are you ready for your magic carpet ride? Take a deep breath… or maybe a few breath-body links to give your mind and body another signal that it is time to practice. Your moment is here! Enjoy it, and immerse yourself fully in every breath and every posture. This is your time, and you will carry the benefits of these 22 minutes with you the whole of your day!

We would love to know: What do you do to switch gears and prepare for Yoga?