Yoga is everywhere these days - your coworkers are sprinting to make classes after work, your mom and her friends are hitting up studios on Saturdays, heck, even your grandma is rocking a chair yoga class.
Want in on a secret?
You don’t have to go to a studio to have a yoga practice!
You can get your yogi on right from home, and we’ve got our top tips to help you get started!
Identify Your Yogi Goals
We know, we know, you may be thinking, “I have to have goals to do yoga?” While they aren’t necessary, deciding what you want your daily practice to look like can help your at-home yoga practice be that much more beneficial.
Take a few moments to think about what you want your practice looks like.
Do you want to work out the kinks from sitting all day?
Try to stick to a traditional class structure?
Spend time trying new (and maybe scary!) things like arm balances or handstands?
Jot ‘em down and keep them where you can see them for inspiration!
Get Your Space and Equipment Ready
First thing’s first - decide where in your home you’ll be practicing yoga.
You really just need enough room for your mat, but if you plan on practicing arm balances or inversions, or just enjoy a little extra space, we recommend an area slightly bigger than your mat.
If you have a separate space dedicated to your yoga practice, amazing! No need to move furniture.
Otherwise, decide which room will work best, move and adjust what you need, and roll out your trusty mat. A space that’s quiet and free of distractions is ideal, so you can spend your time solely focused on you and your yoga practice.
A mat is truly all that’s necessary for at-home practice, but there are a few extra props that can take your yoga practice to the next level. Some of our favorites are:
This mat has been our go-to for the past 5 years and is truly amazing. It has a cushiony side for yummy, slower yoga practices and a more tacky side that’s great for ensuring you have a good grip in hot yoga classes (or if you’re like us and easily work up a sweat, heat or no heat!).
A block is a staple addition to any yoga practice. Blocks can help support you in more difficult poses you’re working up to, give you more space on days when you feel tight, allow you to get deeper into poses, and make stretches even yummier.
We prefer foam blocks for their support and comfort when touching more bony areas, like our spine.
Like a block, a strap can help you in poses you are still working up to (like grabbing your foot behind you) and assist you deeper into stretches. Straps are extremely versatile and great for supporting you throughout your yoga journey.
Ah, bolsters, we love you! These are a great addition for support during yummy, slower practices, in your savasana, and during meditations.
We want your at-home yoga practice to be many things for you - but most importantly, fun and safe!
Please be mindful of how your body is feeling and stay present throughout your practice - know that this can change every single day, and adjusting is normal and encouraged.
Some important things to remember:
- Burning muscles are okay (and good in many situations) - If your muscles are burning in active poses, like your legs in chair pose or shoulders in planks, you are building strength and this is normal.
- Painful joints are not okay - If your knees, ankles, wrists, neck, or back are uncomfortable in poses, ease out of the pose or adjust your body position. The goal of yoga is not to contort your body to make a pose look a certain way. Adjust to what feels good for you.
- Challenge yourself but be mindful - We always encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone, but don’t do something your body isn’t ready for (i.e., don’t pop into a handstand full force or force yourself into the splits if you aren’t ready for them yet).
If you’re breathing mindfully, congrats, you’re doing yoga! The practice of yoga is all about breath and body connection. Your yoga breath - also known as ujjayi breath - has amazing capabilities and is one of the most important parts of your yoga practice.
The ujjayi breath, which sounds like a “Darth Vader” breath, activates your vagus nerve, which literally calms your nervous system down. When you’re holding difficult poses, your yogi breath can power you through them and turn your flight (aka dropping out of a difficult pose) response off. When your mind begins to wander, your breath can bring you back to your physical body and your practice.
Try to maintain full, deep belly breaths throughout your entire yoga practice. Your bod and brain will thank you!
Basic Yoga Practice Breakdown
While your goals and daily needs will vary, we wanted to provide you with a basic structure for an at-home yoga practice to give you a good place to start.
Below are some poses and sequence examples that may speak to you.
Start in stillness
Begin in a comfortable position to allow yourself to arrive on your mat and prepare yourself for your practice.
You can find a seated position, lie on your back, or take child’s pose (our personal fave way to start our practice).
Stay here for a 5-10 of your deepest yogi breaths and try to focus on your breath and body, leaving distractions outside of the space for the duration of your practice.
Wake up your body
Begin some small gentle movements to wake up your body.
This is your chance to work out any initial kinks and get your body ready to move and groove. Take any movements that feel good, hang out in some postures longer where you need it, make it yours.
Heat things up
After you’ve woken your body up, you can begin to build more heat and challenge yourself based on your goals.
We always recommend a strength and balance portion for a well-rounded practice.
Our Sun Salutation A sequence below is how we prefer to build strength and heat while moving with our breath.
We love to do 3-5 rounds of Sun Salutation A, and then from there, add other strong postures like Warrior 1, Warrior 2, Chair Pose, and Bridge Pose.
Sun Salutation A (Reach Up, Forward Fold, Halfway Lift, Chaturanga, Upward Dog, Downward Dog)
Balance it Out
Balance poses allow us to stay present with our breath and in our body. They are also great at building strength and stability. Here are some of our favorites.
Slow Down and Stretch
After you’ve built up some heat and challenged your muscles and your balance, it’s time to slow everything back down and give yourself some well-deserved releases that will help with muscle recovery and improve your overall flexibility.
Here are some of our favorite positions. Try holding for at least 10 slow breaths each.
Now that you’ve finished all of your yummy stretches and slowed your breath down, it’s time to make your way to savasana.
Lie on your back for at least 3-5 minutes, allow your breath to return to normal, and just be still.
This is one of the most important parts of your practice for soaking everything in and getting to a meditative state. It may seem tempting to skip, but it is so important (and well-deserved!).
An at-home yoga practice can be a magical thing. When you can tap into your intuition and to what your body needs on a given day, you can reach your yoga goals - whatever they may be.
Remember to keep our safety tips in mind, stay present in your body and your breath, and, overall, just have fun!
Need more support?
Depending on your yoga experience, you may find practicing solo to be rather difficult.
There are plenty of tools at your fingertips that can help you build your at-home practice with guidance from knowledgeable teachers.
Happy practicing, yogis! Namaste.