Yoga is the type of physical activity you can perform anywhere. Yoga practitioners often feel the need to start a self-practice on the days they do not attend class: it relaxes, provides balance and regularity helps make progress. In current times, you might also want to do yoga at home because of COVID restrictions, following an online class or learning from a book.
Whatever the reason might be for you to start a yoga at home routine, we have compiled a complete guide on how to start yoga at home in the best conditions.
The Setting - Starting with Yoga at Home
Doing yoga does not require an awful lot of space. Make sure you can fit your mat and add at least half a meter margin on each side as well as top and bottom. If at all possible, try and practice in a calm environment where you can easily concentrate. When at home, I lock myself in a room and make sure my kids do not enter ;-)
Depending on the online class you attend or poses you decide to work on, you might not need anything more than a mat. As an Iyengar yoga student, I will list all the yoga props I use (and recommend), outlining their function and benefits.
- yoga mat: yoga practitioners' best buddy. Choose one you like, aesthetic and functional. Some important features: anti-slippery, big enough so you can lie down fully on it, comfortable. I tend to go for organic and biodegradable ones made of cork, organic latex, organic cotton or other natural fibres.
- yoga belt: yoga belts are a must-have. Highly useful to reach your feet, correct your posture or provide deeper relaxation in static poses. An alternative would be a trousers belt or a scarf.
- yoga blocks: another essential and versatile yoga prop. Use them to sit on while meditating, rest your head when bending forward (highly relaxing for the mind) or to provide height where you cannot reach the floor. Looking for an alternative: a pile of books, or any hard brick like item can do (although they might not feel as comfortable).
- yoga covers: sit on them, roll them up into a cylinder shape to make a DIY bolster or cover yourself up for deeper relaxation in savasana (relaxation pose at end of class). They are also great to use as cushions for your knees and elbows in kneeling poses.
- yoga bolster: although you could easily go without it (use covers instead), a good quality bolster is like a teddy bear when doing yoga. It welcomes your body and allows to let go and relax while stretching. It is widely use in yin yoga and iyengar yoga.
- yoga chair: an essential tool of iyengar yoga, it as thousands of uses and is recommended if you are a beginner. Iyengar yoga chairs are quite an investment but you can also modify a metallic foldable chair (make sure it is robust and not too wobbly).
- yoga ropes: this is a nice one to have, especially if you are into iyengar yoga. A typical Iyengar yoga studio has ropes fixed to the walls that are used to deepen poses and open up the body. Some practitioners add a couple of hooks at home for that purpose. Personally, I have opted for a door stretch strap that does not need fixing and is easy to mount on doors.
Check out our yoga accessories here.
Starting with yoga at home
Several options are available. If you are new to yoga, I would recommend you go for the tutor led online class, with a qualified yoga instructor who can provide personalised guidance.
Online Real-Time Instructor Led Yoga Class
By far the best option, especially if you are beginning or if you feel you need guidance when practicing. Look for a certified teacher who can provide real time corrections and answer any of your doubts. It might turn out a little more expensive but it is worth the investment.
I practice both online and at the studio. My certified Iyengar teacher offers reduced group online classes via Zoom. The app allows her to view everyone on the screen and to provide personalised corrections. Great to avoid creating bad habits one cannot self adjust.
If you cannot go for this kind of real time with video yoga class, and you are new to yoga, try at least to attend a yoga at home for beginners online session. Preferably with the possibility to reach out to the teacher in order to clear doubts and progress smoothly.
Yoga at Home Videos
Yoga videos are widely available on the internet but also on Instagram and other apps.
There are many free ones. One of my favourite YouTube yoga channel is Yoga With Adriene. Adriene is a great yoga teacher, funny and she provides detailed instructions. She has many videos ranging from easy 15 minutes ones to longer more intense ones. You can also pick the video that matches your state of mind (yoga for stress, yoga for energy...) or to release tension in a particular part of your body. She also has many 4 weeks yoga challenges. Look for the beginners videos if you are starting with yoga.
You can also register for paid online yoga classes. Specialised yoga websites such as Gaia, Yogainternational, Glo or Grokker are to name but a few.
Yoga Self Practice
You have reached a point where you feel you need to integrate a self practice in your yoga routine, well done! Practicing yoga on your own is highly beneficial: it allows you to better know your body, listen to the signals it sends and enjoy the right amount of time needed in each pose (we often need extra time to relax and unlock body blocks and this is not always available in a led class).
A self practice ranges from a 15 minutes session to a 2 hours structured sequence depending on your years, level of experience or mood. Try and use a support as a yoga book or yoga cards with detailed information on the pose and how to perform it well. It is crucial to get the right body alignment in order to avoid hurting yourself. Only do these poses your body and memory have integrated if you do not use a support. You can also repeat the previous instructor led class you attended (make notes after the class if needed).
A beginners yoga self practice could include 4 or 5 yoga at home poses such as:
- Centering exercise: seated in comfortable position on a yoga block or a few covers, place your hands in prayer position and breathe slowly.
- Downward facing dog (Adho mukha svanasana), use a yoga block to rest your front on.
- Uttanasa against the wall (there exist many variations). Ensure your legs are parallel and open at hip wide distance.
Supporting material I use daily:
- Books: Light on yoga and Iyengar Book for beginners
- Yoga cards - Read article here.
Some Extras to Maximise your Yoga at Home Practice
Try and create a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere so that you can really connect with yourself beyond the physical activity.
Light a candle an incense stick or diffuse essential oils. ritual
Start with a centering exercise where you can place a scented pillow on your eyes (helps relax the eyes and stop the activity).
You might also want to play relaxing music, mantra chants or any music that makes you feel calm and relaxed.