Regularity is the key. It is not necessary to have a long practice. Decide if you want to do a morning practice or an evening practice. You could divide up your practice into both a morning session and an evening session if that suites your needs. Whatever you decide it should be something that you can fit into your life style. Remember to choose a time when your stomach is empty. Your body will quickly let you know if you forget and try to do something on a full stomach.
Beginners should start by picking just a couple of poses and practicing them for a week to see what sort of effect a home practice will have. For instance, you could pick a couple of standing poses and viparita karani which would mean that you would be doing two active poses and one relaxation pose. As the course progresses you can add more or different poses into your practice.
If possible, set your mat up somewhere you can keep it out. That way when you pass by you can stop and do something like a downward dog. If that isn’t possible leave your mat in a conspicuous place so that it draws attention to itself.
Before starting your practice take note of what your mental state is like. When you finish again take note of what has happened to your mental state.
Don’t rush into a pose. Move into the pose slowly and thoughtfully. Pay attention to the foundation of the pose, it does make a difference in how the pose will make you feel once you have finished it.
Take care not to over-do but not to under-do either. You work with lots of sensations but pain should not be one of them. Gradually increase the time you spend in a pose as your body gains flexibility and strength. In the beginning repeat the pose 2 to 3 times staying for only a very short time. Once you become more adept at doing the pose your body will let you know how long to stay in the pose. Remember that Yoga is a subject that requires some self study on your part. Ask yourself how the pose makes you feel. Where should you be soft in the pose and where should you be strong in the pose. Learn to keep your eyes and tongue relaxed as you are working in the pose.
Always breath through your nose maintaining a relaxed rhythm. In some poses it is possible to take longer and deeper breaths than in other poses. Remember that most poses are done on an exhalation with the exception of backward extensions which start on an inhalation.
Remember to come out of a pose as slowly and carefully as you went into the pose. Be kind to your body. If you experience sharp pain immediately come out of the pose. However, some pain can be very instructive. Often when we start a new pose we can feel the affects afterwards on our muscles. This sort of pain should not last for more than a day. If your pain continues ask your teacher about it.
All bodies are different. Everyone has imbalances no matter how flexible they are. Learn to work with your imbalances. Study yourself in a mirror to find your imbalances and asymmetry. Don’t obsess about this but do work with the tighter or weaker side to help minimize these imbalances. Yoga is not a competition and each person has to learn to work with their body through personal exploration rather than through ego. Find the joy in learning about yourself.
Remember to spend 5-15 minutes doing relaxation at the end of your practice. A good relaxation will help you to face your daily life from a quieter and calmer perspective.
The benefits that you receive from the yoga asanas are determined by how much and how regularly you practice them.