Breathing out self judgement

December was an incredible month for Yogaru. After many years of designing and building my 108 ASANA sequencing cards, it was a tough job keeping up with demands in retail and online. Thank you to all who have chosen to explore their home practice, you are part of a growing tribe! January brings with it a welcome return to teaching regular public classes in a beautiful new studio right on my doorstep in Blackrock – Moons Yoga Loft. This sequence is based on the class theme for the month of January with I am honoured to be starting from tomorrow morning!

No matter how hard you try to hide from it January is a month where we are besieged with pressure to set New Year’s Resolutions and change the way we are. Even if you’re quite happy with where you are, you can’t help digging deep to find some area for self criticism and conform to the mass hysteria. Last year I made a conscious effort to buck the trend by ‘Stepping gently into the New Year’. This year the same challenges face me and I’m looking to my breath to calm the mind and not get caught up on the merry go round.

Set yourself an intention for changing the internal chatter of self judgement to self care. The world would be a monotonous and one dimensional place to live in we were all perfectly formed and perfectly balanced. Variety is the spice of life in all its shapes and forms. Next time you catch yourself going down the route of ‘I’m not good enough’ change the conversation to ‘I am perfectly imperfect’! Say it in your mind, write it down, set a reminder on your phone. Remind yourself you are exactly who you need to be right now, and not in a months time after a gruelling New Years Resolution.

This sequence is an evolution of the ‘Step gently into the New Year’ sequence. It adds exploration of Viloma breath in movement and challenges you to look for the breath in your back body in Child’s Pose. Back body breathing stimulates the rest restore and digest nervous system response. As you inhale think ‘I am’ and on your exhale release self judgement and think ‘perfectly imperfect’.

Start your practice on your back with your knees bent, feet mat distance apart. Place your hands on your belly and feel the breath move through you. Take three to five rounds of Viloma breath – inhale for a long breath, and then exhale pause, exhale pause, exhale pause – dividing your exhale into three sections. Pause after your rounds and notice any change to you body and mind.

Think of how we react to stressful situations – we exhale deeply – this is the body trying to find balance again. Stay close to the breath and look to extend your exhale. Let the breath guide your movement in the mini flow sections of the sequence and follow the guide of which pose you inhale and exhale for.

  • After you have done three to five rounds of Viloma breath in a resting position move on to the core work section using the same breathing technique. For the first round you will be holding the left leg and lowering the right leg in increments of three as you take your three Viloma exhales, inhale brings the leg back up. In the second round you will keep your hands beside you or in cactus arms and use your core to draw your left knee into your chest as you take your three Viloma breath exhales, inhale brings the leg back up.

  • Pause in child pose before the Cat, Cow, Child Pose flow breathe into the back body. When going through this mini flow link each movement with your breath and let the breath dictate when you are ready to move on to the next pose, ‘+’ is an inhale and ‘-’ is an exhale. Pause in child pose again after and breathe into the back body again.

  • For half forward fold press your hands into your shins and reach your chest forward to feel the strength in your upper back. Pause here in this mini flow of row three.

  • Your final pose is a restorative pose using a bolster. Place the back of your pelvis towards the short end of the bolster. Gently ease yourself back onto the bolster and place your arms by your sides palms facing up. You can stay here for your full Savasana or, after about five minutes of your chest opener restorative, remove the bolster and come down to you mat for Savasana.

Ruth Delahunty Yogaru

12 Christmas sequences

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Christmas can be full to the brim with festivities, friends, family & happiness, it can also sometimes be hectic, stressful & overwhelming! Making it the perfect time of year to carve out a little bit of self care each day. Rolling out your yoga mat to recenter will help you enjoy time with friends and family, take all the ups and downs in your stride, and help you stay well over the winter months.

This Christmas I teamed up with The Irish Balance to bring 12 Days of Christmas Yoga sequences on Instagram. Each sequence had a different theme to support you during this busy time of year. I demystified how this sequence is helping you and Ciara gave some The Irish Balance tips for life balance. Thank you to all who joined us, yogis from far and wide spreading the Christmas yoga happiness!

All 12 sequences are here for you to save, print out and give it a go, or keep the practice going if you joined us on Instagram. You can practice all 12 or pick a few that have everything you need. Each sequence can be repeated as many times as you like. You’re very welcome to share these sequences or to teach them if you are a yoga teacher.

To save the images on a Mac hold down ‘control’ and click the image to get the option box, on PC right click on the image to get the option box. Scroll down in the ‘option box’ and click ‘save image’.

The best way to get you started for your 12 day Christmas Yoga flow is with a day of Sun Salutation or Surya Namaskaras. The Sun Salutation is a whole body and mind mini flow, and will give you everything you need from your practice today. It’s the adaptogen of the yoga world! It calms you when you need calming and it energises you when you’ve burnt the candle at both ends. PRACTICE TIPS: On a ‘+’ inhale, on a ‘-’ exhale. Do one round of each Surya, then add the additional poses for the next four rounds. Peak Pose – Surya Namaskara/Sun Salutation. Any Qs on the sequence are welcome. Ruth x

This time of year the temperature drops, the rain arrives, & the wind whips around us as we rush from A to B. It’s important to take good care of your physical health during winter, so here’s my top 2 tips! 1. Wrap up warm when you’re heading out. 2. Make sure to eat at least 5 servings of fruit & veg per day to boost your micro-nutrient intake. Ciara x

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With a cold snap in the air it’s time to stoke your internal generator and and get your circulation going. This sequence has plenty of twists and standing poses to keep you warmer than your Christmas wooly jumper! Twists stimulate the organs of the body which generate natural body heat from the inside and give you a bonus glow to your complexion. PRACTICE TIPS: On a ‘+’ inhale, on a ‘-’ exhale. There are two round of Surya C in Row 1 for your warm up, then two more rounds in Row 2 where you add in your standing twists. Peak Pose – Parivrtta Utkatasana/Revolved Chair Pose. Any Qs on the sequence are welcome. Ruth x

It can be VERY tricky to motivate ourselves to get moving & get our exercise in during winter. But it’s often the thing we need the most – even when we don’t feel like it! So here’s my top 2 tips to stay active! 1. Start your day with even a little movement - try our 12 Days Yoga Flow & a short brisk walk! 2. Make it social – grab a family member or friend for a stroll & a catch up. Ciara x

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A healthy and happy gut is the key to a strong immune system for the winter months. 80% of the immune system is produced in the gut. Backbends stimulate the digestive system, bring fresh blood to the lining of the gut and helping it work more efficiently. Inversions boost your circulation and help the body flush out toxins too. PRACTICE TIPS: On a ‘+’ inhale, on a ‘-’ exhale. In your Sury x 2 on Row 1 come all the way down to the ground and take locust. Don’t worry if headstand is not part of your practice you are still getting plenty of inversions in Downward Dog. Peak Pose – Setu Bandha Sarvangasana/Bridge. Ruth x

The Christmas period can be a source of anxiety for many who fear they will ‘lose control’ over their healthy eating habits. You WON’T! It’s a season to be enjoyed. Here’s my 2 tips to move past that worry. 1. Hit your 5 fruit & veg servings at a minimum every day – a wonderful start to a daily healthy diet! 2. Drink at least 2 litres of water per day – hydration is so important for many aspects of our health, but especially so at Christmas when alcohol consumption goes up a bit! Ciara x

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We hold physical and emotional tension in our hips. Hip openers help to relieve physical tension and in turn release emotional tension too. Spend some extra time in these hip opening poses to help release this built up tension. The magic will happen when you stay in a comfortable stretch rather than going to your end range of motion. PRACTICE TIPS: On a ‘+’ inhale, on a ‘-’ exhale. In your Sury x 2 on Row 2 add lizard pose in the first round and half splits on your second round. Remember to do both left and right sides for each pose. Peak Pose – Ardha Matsyendrasana/Half Lord of the Fishes. Ruth x

It’s definitely the most wonderful time of the year in my book, but Christmas can also make even the most zen of us go a little crazy with the thoughts of the presents to buy! My top 2 tips to bust the stress are: 1. Make a list! Write down the gifts & tasks you need to do before you start your day – take pride in ticking each one off! 2. Make time for YOU – set aside t10-15 minutes, everyday, & do something you enjoy. It might reading, our yoga flows, a cuppa tea – but give it to yourself as a daily gift. Ciara x

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The countdown to Christmas has definitely kicked in and the shops are getting busier by the day. This sequence will help you focus the mind and give you an extra bit of stamina to face the crowds and enjoy that Christmas shopping buzz. PRACTICE TIPS: On a ‘+’ inhale, on a ‘-’ exhale. Take an extra few breaths n your warm up poses on the first two rows to open out your hips and groin. Peak Pose – Virabhadrasana II/Warrior II. Ruth x

Ah, the Christmas shop! You’re armed with your list, yoga done for the day, and when you get to the stores it mayhem. Don’t panic! Here’s 2 tips to master your shopping tasks. 1. Write down the locations where you’re likely to find the gifts on your lift. Be direct in where you go – don’t linger! 2. Make time for a break with a friend – schedule that coffee date mid-shopping trip for a catch up & a laugh! Ciara x

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Your calendar is filling up and you’re wondering how you’re going to fit it all in. Todays sequence will help get your energy levels up so you can enjoy all your Christmas social festivities. Balancing standing poses wake you up and are very energising. They power up the big muscles of the legs and help pump fresh oxygen around the whole body which give you that extra pep in your step. PRACTICE TIPS: On a ‘+’ inhale, on a ‘-’ exhale. Run through a round of ½ Sury from row one before the three main mini flow on row two and three. Peak Pose – Ardha Chandrasana/Half Moon. Ruth x

The ‘silly season’ can take a LOT out of us, as we feel like we have to say YES to every party & get together we’re invited to. Instead of fretting about all the nights out, take on board these 2 tips. 1. Be grateful for the friends & family you have in your life at this time of year – many people do not, & we should be thankful to have good people around us – even if they ate the last good chocolate out of the Roses! 2. Try to have a break for evenings by the fire between your social activities where possible – and reset with at least 7 (ideally 8) hours sleep on those nights! Ciara x

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In the winter months we’re inclined to curl our shoulders in to guard ourselves from the windy, cold weather. Gentle backbends will crack open your heart centre and help you stay open and present for all your Christmas social outings and might even have you dancing and prancing till the small hours of the morning! Backbends also have the added benefits of ease anxiety, stress and tension. PRACTICE TIPS: On a ‘+’ inhale, on a ‘-’ exhale. There are two rounds of forward bends and half forward bends, pause in your half forward bend and look for the strength of your upper back. Peak Pose – Natarajasana/Lord of the Dance. Ruth x

Christmas is an absolutely wonderful time to just let your hair down a little bit. We live in a world now where social media can overwhelm us with posts & articles on how to ‘be’ healthy. But sometimes, the healthiest thing you can do for your body & mind is to let go a little – so this season, my top 2 tips here are: 1. Make it your mission to dance at LEAST once during this season. 2. Get some friends & family together at the social event & start a sing-song! I love belting out my favourite Christmas tunes – if no one wants to sing, just put Christmas FM on! Ciara x

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Late nights catching up with friends and family can take its toll on you. This gentle sequence has plenty of restorative poses and lots of opportunities to take childs poses. It will refresh your system and bring you back to balance again by boosting your circulation and massaging your gut to give you time to restore ready for your next festivities. PRACTICE TIPS: On a ‘+’ inhale, on a ‘-’ exhale. I’m a great believer in using a blanket in Savasana. Not just for warmth but for the added weight on the body which tells it you are safe and helps you relax that extra 10%. Peak Pose – Salabhasana/Locust. Ruth x

As a kid, I always found St. Stephen’s/Boxing Day a little weird – Santa had come & gone, & I just wanted to restart the Christmas Eve magic again! Nowadays, I relish those post-Christmas days before New Year’s. They’re my time to see family & friends I didn’t get to see earlier in the month, & importantly when I find I reflect on the year just past, & start to form some thoughts on my goals for the year to come. So here’s my 2 post-festivities tips: 1. Write down 3 achievements from your 2018 during the days between Christmas & New Year – and be darn PROUD of them. 2. Write down 3 things you want to set as goals for 2019. Keep those 2 pieces of paper somewhere special – a journal, drawer, your phone, wherever! Ciara x

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Trains, planes and automobiles (or as we say cars!). When we travel we sit for long periods of time which shortens the front hip muscles. This built up tension can be very tiring and leave you wiped out after travel. Stretching out the front hips in this sequence is the perfect way to counteract this hip tension. PRACTICE TIPS: On a ‘+’ inhale, on a ‘-’ exhale. Spend a bit of extra time in your high lunge to lengthen out those hip flexor muscles. Peak Pose – Ashta Chandrasana/Eight Crescent Moon. Ruth x

I’ve been told I’m like a Duracell bunny because of my energy – I love that! True to form, I get REALLY fidgety when I have to sit for prolonged periods – especially on long travel journeys! So here’s my 2 tips to keep you mobile while to travel: 1. Take our Yoga Flows with you! I always keep a series of screenshots on my phone of Yogaru Sequences – I can do these abroad, in a hotel, gym, bedroom – simple! 2. As soon as you land in your new holiday surroundings – get out & explore! I love to see a new place on foot, & an adventurous stroll is a great way to start. Ciara x

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See what we’ve done there! Practice this sequence and get into the tree decorating mood. Lengthen up through the tip of the crown and get that start onto the top of the tree. PRACTICE TIPS: On a ‘+’ inhale, on a ‘-’ exhale. In the flow on row three, run through the five poses with your right leg forward and then pivot to the back of the mat to take the five poses with your left foot forward. Repeat this twice so you have done two on right and two on left. Peak Pose – Vrksasana/Tree. Ruth x

One of my favourite days in December – putting up the Christmas Tree. It’s mandatory attendance in my house on this day, with all 6 of us in the Kelly family present. I love it. So for your 2018 tree, try these 2 tips: 1. Make sure your tree goes up with company you love to keep – family, significant other, friend, you name it. Cherish the time you spend decorating! 2. Buy a new decoration for your 2018 tree. It doesn’t have to be expensive – you could even make one! I do this every year – I visited the Belfast Titanic exhibition in the Spring & picked up mine then! Ciara x

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We place high expectations on this one day of the year and it can sometimes be a bit overwhelming. This sequence will set you up for the day with some forward folds to help you keep a level head and stay flexible in body and mind for the day! PRACTICE TIPS: On a ‘+’ inhale, on a ‘-’ exhale. Peak Pose – Prasarita Padottanasana/Wide Legged Forward Fold. Ruth x

Oh, boy. The MAGIC of Christmas morning. This time of year has always been my favourite, & it stems from my childhood in America, waking up at 3am trying to catch Santa – my poor, ever patients parents! As an adult (I think!) it’s just as special for me. So here’s my Christmas Day tips: 1. Savour the moment of opening each present, & really feel the gratitude for the person who spent time, thought & money on getting you a special gift. 2. Enjoy every second you get to experience someone taking pleasure & joy from a gift you’re giving them! They say it’s a greater gift to give than receive, & I definitely agree. Ciara x

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Our digestive system likes routine and can sometimes get a bit grumpy when we give it richer foods than it may be used to. This can leave you feeling a bit bloated, sluggish and not quite as ‘regular’ as you usually are! This sequence will gently press, squeeze and wring out your gut to jump start your digestive system again and have you feeling ready to tackle the new year head on. PRACTICE TIPS: On a ‘+’ inhale, on a ‘-’ exhale. Peak Pose – Malasana/Squat. Ruth x

The Christmas FEAST. Is there a dinner more revered around the world? I think not. Whether you’re a turkey fan, vegetarian, or vegan, Christmas Day dinner is a really special occasion for all involved – a pretty busy one too! And yes, we often indulge in a wee bit more dinner & dessert than usual. But listen up guys – here’s my final tip. It’s a good one, so it counts as 2! Christmas Day is ONE DAY OF THE YEAR. Embrace, & enjoy your Christmas feast. Eat slowly, mindfully, laughing & enjoying your time with family & friends around you. Merry Christmas gang, and the very Happiest and healthiest of New Year to you and yours. Ciara x

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year
Ruth Delahunty Yogaru

Your internal generator

At this time of year it can be hard to regulate your body temperature. One day it is a gorgeous wintery mild day and you are turning down all the heaters, and the next day you wake up and spend the day adding layer after layer of winter jumpers trying to get warm to no avail! Your practice can support you with your ever changing requirements. This sequence will be one to print out and keep to hand when the temperature suddenly drops over the winter months. It’ll have you glowing from the inside out with lots of juicy twist and strong legs standing poses.

Twists are one of the best family of poses to add to your winter practice. There are many benefits of twisted poses – they aid good digestion and nutrition absorption; ease constipation; increase metabolism; support the nervous system; release physical and mental tension; help your body to eliminate toxins; and boost the immune system. On top of all these amazing benefits is an added bonus of heat! You eat food and breath air to create energy for all these metabolic functions – these functions release a lovely natural heat in the body. Twists also increase circulation and distribute this heat throughout the whole body. Keeping you warm, cosy and glowing from the inside out!

To take a twist you need a strong foundation. Before you move into a twist find this foundation by grounding down into your feet for standing poses, or your sit bones for seated poses, and lengthen up through the whole spine to the tip of your crown. Lengthen through both side, front and back of the body, take a deep inhale and let your belly soften and expand. Twist slowly and gradually on your exhale as your belly contracts. Explore going to 90% of your max range of motion. Moving into your deepest end range of motion twist can both tighten your breath, pull on your outer hip muscles and you pelvis to spine connection.

The peak pose in this sequence is Parivrtta Parsvakonasana/Revolved Side Angle which is a very challenging twist for the spine and hips. Follow these alignment cues to approach it from a different direction and rethink your expectations of where your final pose should be. Remember to continue to reach through the tip for the crown as you twist:

  • Place a brick to the outside of your right foot. From Anjaneyasana/Low Lunge, bring your hands together into prayer position, hinge forward and twist to your right. Place your left elbow to the outside of your right knee. Reach the crown of your head forward and lengthen through the spine here.

  • For the next step place your left hand on the brick with the elbow either to the left or the right of the right knee. Place your right hand on the back of your pelvis to check your hips are level. Keep your hand here to stabilise the pelvis or reach the right hand up.

  • Finally, tuck your right thumb into your right hip crease. Take an inhale here and on an exhale lift your left knee up. Place your right hand on the back of your pelvis to check your hips are level and peel the right shoulder open, or reach the right hand up. Work towards stacking the shoulders and opening the chest to the side of your mat.

  • Right hip draws back, left hip draws forward. Bottom waist rolls forward, top waist rolls back. Gaze to the side of the room or to the extended arm.

Ruth Delahunty Yogaru

12 Days of Christmas yoga


Whether Christmas is your thing and you welcome it with bells on, or you find it all a bit too much and feel quite overwhelmed, your practice can there to support your every need. This Christmas I’m teaming up with The Irish Balance to bring you an Instagram 12 Days of Christmas Yoga. We’ll be getting you ready for whatever the silly season has in store for you with 12 mini flows to practice with us over the next 12 days, and to continue practicing over the festive period and into the new year.

There will be 12 different themes to keep you well over the colder months, calm in the face of Christmas adversity, and energised for all the festivities. Each sequence will have a peak pose and a daily focus. I will demystify how this sequence is helping you and Ciara will give you some The Irish Balance tips for life balance.

Join us on Instagram and remember to click on the little bookmark to save each flow so you can practice it whenever, wherever suits you. Like, share, repost and hashtag #12daysofchristmasyoga to join in on the Christmas yoga vibes. Let’s get the world yogaing for a peaceful Christmas and a happy new year.

You will also find the full 12 days of sequences in the Pause section of my website from 12th December.

Ruth Delahunty Yogaru

10 tips to develop a home practice


My yoga practice is my comfort blanket, it reminds me that I am perfectly imperfect – I turn to it to find grounding; bring myself back to me; keep calm in the face of adversity; find space to breathe a full breath; and live a more conscious life in a world that is becoming more and more unconscious. Developing a self practice means that you have a ready to use tool at your fingertips to self support from life’s challenges. It counteracts the busy lives we lead and helps us deal with everyday situations.

For most people home practice is the natural progression of their yoga path. Starting a self practice can feel quite daunting at first. We feel secure in the safety of a led class and go blank the minute we stand at the top of the mat at home. Online yoga classes can be useful to get a feel for practicing at home, but it’s important to remember one of the best things about yoga is how it gives you a break from the busyness of modern society, and a welcome chance to step away from technology and screens. Self practice lets you take ownership of your personal practice – tailoring to your specific needs; getting the most out of your time on the mat; and is available to you anytime of the day at home or when traveling. Empowering you to react to changing circumstances and find balance again.

There is no secret formula to sequencing kept under lock and key! The best place to start with is some simple rounds of your favourite Sury Namaskara. They are designed to give you a little bit of everything to wake up the whole body. That is why you frequently find them positioned at the start of a sequence. Once you are comfortable, and you are ready to move on, add in some standing poses that you are familiar with. Getting to know your own practice – your strengths, your limitations, your favourite asana – helps you become more intune with your physical and emotional needs. It won’t be long before your intuition kicks in and you will instinctively know what poses to add to your practice for your requirements on each unique day.

The transition from class to home practice doesn’t have to be quite so overwhelming if you keep it simple and follow these 10 tips to get you started:

Tip 1
Little and often is better than trying to get on your mat once a week and do a full hour practice. Start small with just 10 minutes, three times a week and let it naturally grow from there.

Tip 2
Accept that you may have a few false starts – it’s ok to miss a practice, if you don’t make it onto the mat don’t beat yourself up. You need to give yourself a bit of time to train your brain into this new healthy habit.

Tip 3
You don’t need a sacred space to practice. Anywhere your mat fits is perfect – end of your bed, kitchen floor, sitting room. From the get go politely let your housemates know that while you are practicing you are not available for them. I have an ‘unless it’s urgent’ rule for when I’m practicing or meditating.

Tip 4
Try incorporate your home practice into your morning routine. I find getting on my mat before I start into anything else works best for me. With the best will in the world life, or housemates, can often take over and prevent you from getting onto your mat later in the day.

Tip 5
Have very manageable time expectations. Do what feels good to you and fits into your day even if it’s just ten minutes first thing in the morning to open your lungs, stretch out the morning stiffness and focus your mind for the day ahead.

Tip 6
At first, practice what is familiar to you. Bring a notebook to class and straight after write down a few poses that you enjoyed or are curious to explore in the comfort of your own home. Ask questions and get advice. Your yoga teacher will be delighted that you are progressing your practice.

Tip 7
Move nice and slowly through your practice and enjoy being the boss. Get close to your breath, and take extra breaths in poses you are enjoying. Don’t panic when you need to move from one pose to the next. Keep your transitions simple and when in doubt link pose through a Downward Dog or come back to Tadasana and take a half Sury Namaskara.

Tip 8
Keep learning and keep reading, explore the areas of yoga that interest you – asana, yoga philosophy, anatomy, breathwork. Have a look at my List of Favourites for some yoga book recommendations. I find podcasts a very handy way to keep learning while I walk and run at the same time!

Tip 9
It doesn’t have to be a new sequence everyday. Pick a theme that will support you – a pose you’re working towards; an area of the body that needs attention; or finding support for a specific emotional need – and pick some poses that will help you achieve this. You will find info graphic to help you pick poses for specific needs on the homepage of my website. Practice the same or a similar sequence for one to two weeks. Moving on when you feel curious to try a new sequence or life has thrown a new challenge your way.

Tip 10
Explore other ‘off the mat’ yoga lifestyle choices like mindfulness, conscious living, an eco challenge – embedding the concept of yoga into your whole life.

My 108 Asana sequencing cards are the perfect tool to help you comfortably bridge the gap between classes and home practice. You’ll also find lots of ready made free sequences in the Sequences section of my website. Download them print them out and get started. Everyone has very different strengths and weaknesses. You can decide on certain days to work with your weak areas or on other days to enjoy your strengths. The best thing about your home practice is that you get to decide, and you can get the yoga ‘feel good factor’ everyday if you choose to.

Ruth Delahunty Yogaru