Today, yoga is a popular practice in North America, and for good reason: the ancient Eastern practice can provide a host of physical and mental benefits to its practitioner. Some of its most advertised benefits include increased flexibility, weight loss, and improved feelings of well-being.
There are now more than 6,000 yoga studios across the United States offering guided classes for seasoned yogis as well as beginners.
However, yoga memberships are expensive, and not everyone feels comfortable doing yoga in a studio setting (especially if you’re just starting out).
Over the years, I have preferred to practice yoga in the comfort of my own home, so that I can move the way I want, at my own pace. (Moreover, there’s no one around to witness my face whenever I fall in bakasana posture!)
Even better, a cost-effective and easy home yoga practice to get started! If you’re new to yoga, here are seven steps to start practicing yoga at home:
1. Join a live Yoga class first
While it’s not strictly necessary, I would highly recommend taking a few in-person yoga classes first if you’re a beginner. The reason is that it can be very difficult to know if you are doing the poses correctly without a teacher there to explain how to get into the poses and how to modify them as needed.
Even the most basic poses, such as downward facing dog, are surprisingly easy to do without instruction.
I can’t tell you how many moments in yoga class when I (somewhat complacently) think I’m doing the right pose, but then my teacher will gently correct me one way or another. , and all of a sudden I had a lightbulb moment like, “Ah, that is what should I do!”)
Most yoga studios offer a few free or discounted classes for new students. You should invest a few times just to have a foundation on which to build your home practice.
2. Choose your location
One of my favorite things about Yoga is that you don’t need a lot of space to get it done. If you can spread your mat and spread your arms wide without touching anything, then you’re good to go.
However, there are still a few factors to consider.
If you have any pets, make sure they get in your way. My cat loves to crawl through my arms and put his butt in my face when the dog is face down. I made sure she was in another room while I was practicing so I wouldn’t worry about stepping on or tripping over her.
I’ve heard that dogs are even worse for this. (Though you can obviously incorporate them into your practice with one of the newer yoga trends, “Doga.”)
You can even try moving your practice outside as some meditators find that nature and sunlight help with their practice.
3. Buy a quality yoga mat (and optional accessories)
Another great thing about yoga is that you don’t need a lot of equipment to get started, just comfortable clothes and a mat.
However, shopping for a yoga mat is not the time to be frugal. Cheap rugs will make you slide around (possibly injuring you), or they can bunch up and tear.
Take it from me; A poor quality rug is really distracting and frustrating, so you should invest in a good rug. (B Ma t is my favorite hand down!)
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Other than that, you don’t need much else. Of course, there are plenty of Yoga equipment out there that you can spend money on if you want; everything from pads to blocks and straps. But most of these can be easily replaced with household items, such as books instead of blocks, or belts instead of straps.
Other must-have accessories for doing yoga at home are a mirror and portable speaker. A mirror is helpful if you have a mirror handy as it can help you see if you’re doing the right pose, and a speaker for yoga music helps you get the right space for your practice. .
4. Set a goal for your yoga journey
What do you want to gain from your yoga practice? More flexible? Greater power? A way to tame nervous energy? Just want to learn how to stand on your head?
There are plenty of reasons to practice, so setting goals before you start can help you create a game plan and build a consistent routine.
Then, once you’ve chosen a goal, decide how often you’ll practice and schedule it.
Because if you don’t schedule it, you won’t. Trust me on this.
5. Choose a Yoga Style
When I first started learning about yoga, I was surprised and a little overwhelmed to learn that there are so many styles of yoga to choose from, some wildly different from others. But since you’ve set goals and intentions for your practice, it should be relatively easy to narrow down which style of yoga you want to try.
Hatha yoga is perhaps the most popular form in the United States and is often a more basic style of yoga that is great for beginners.
Ashtanga or Vinyasa will increase your speed if you are looking to lose weight, while Restorative yoga is a more passive form that is great for relaxation and mental well-being.
But those styles are just the tip of the iceberg! Read up on a few different styles and find the one that seems to best support your yoga goals.
6. Find a Virtual Yoga Teacher
While you can do yoga on your own without any instruction, I highly recommend finding virtual yoga classes to guide you through your practice. Virtual yoga classes are my favorite because they keep your practice fresh, structured, and challenging.
However, there are so many yoga apps and online platforms out there, and sifting through them can be a bit overwhelming. My top recommendation is that MyYogaWorks has hundreds of classes and dozens of teachers to choose from, for every style and experience level.
7. Safe practice
The most important thing to remember when embarking on yoga practice at home is that yoga is painless. Yes, yoga should be a challenge, but don’t force yourself into poses that cause pain or you could end up pulling your muscles or worse!
I used to have a strain in my neck when standing on a supported shoulder and it took months to recover.
Start with easier, shorter classes and work your way up as you build more strength, flexibility, and endurance. You will be surprised at how supple and stronger you are after just a few weeks of taking 10-15 minute classes!
If you’re looking to do more advanced poses, I highly recommend taking a yoga class or maybe teaching one-on-one yoga at home. Always put safety first so you don’t end up in the hospital looking like a pretzel.
Start practicing Yoga at home
When practiced safely and intentionally, practicing yoga at home can be a great way to improve your overall health and well-being.
My favorite thing about doing yoga at home is that it really becomes your practice. If I want to spend ten minutes in my favorite restorative pose, or do arm balancing during my lunch break, my mat is just a matter of course.
What a wonderful feeling it is when you know that an amount of physical and mental energy is just one yoga mat away from you!