Yoga is a wonderful lifestyle and the perfect reason to start a home yoga practice. You gain flexibility, strength, better mobility and its proven to lower stress.
But you might be asking yourself, “how do I start a home yoga practice?”
Well you’re in luck because we’re going to show you exactly how to start your yoga practice and, more importantly, help you establish your foundation so you actually want to stick with it.
Getting Started With Yoga at Home
You can get started in yoga with basically no tools. Some people even do yoga on the floor. However, I don’t recommend that. Yoga requires many positions that will put pressure on your knees which, if you don’t have a mat, can be very uncomfortable. With that in mind, the tools we recommend everyone start with are:
But if you can’t wait for your items to arrive, books can be used instead of block. A pillow lying around the home can be used for meditation and when a bolster is required for a yoga position. And the easiest item to find around your home will be a belt that can replace the strap you use in the studio.
With those items you’ll be able to get by until your pro tools arrive.
Setting The Space
You’ll want to pick a spot that can be cleared of all clutter and where quiet and peaceful session can be held. This can be a dedicated room for those with the space or a space that can easily be transformed into your own little studio by moving furniture. In most cases, you can even set up in front of your T.V. since you only need about a yoga mat worth of space (that’s what I do).
The main thing is that you need enough room so that you’re not bumping into things when you’re striking asanas.
If you have the opportunity when creating your space, use natural material. This can include items on the walls and even in your yoga accessories like blocks made of bamboo. By removing all or as much plastic and artificial items as possible from your yoga room, it will be easier for you to relax and find your bliss.
Setting The Mood
Many home yoga practitioners take their space and transform it into a place of tranquility. This can include, but not limited to candles, incense and even personal items.
Making Time For Yoga
For your home yoga practice to be a success, you must decide how often you will have a session and then actually do it. For some this might be a full 90 minute session. For others, this might be 15 – 20 minutes. It doesn’t matter what you start with as long as you’re able to stick with it. We reviewed the best yoga DVD’s here and many of them offer both short and long yoga sessions.
The best approach is to set the days of the week you’ll do yoga, the time of day and the length of a session and stick to the schedule.
By making the session at the same time each day, you will fall into a routine and notice you will start to look forward to it each day. This will make it easy to stick with this new segment of your life for a longer period of time. Avoid being rigid though. If you planned on a 6 am yoga sesh but couldn’t do it, get it in later.
Planning Your Yoga Routine
For many of us, a regular routine works best. Because of that, it’s a good idea to either get a DVD, follow some YouTubers or get a Udemy yoga course to follow along with. This helps you establish a routine and get familiar with the different poses before striking out on your own. They may also help you get your form nailed down and correct mistakes that could possibly hurt you.
What’s The Best Place to Start?
A great routine for you will depend on what you’re comfortable with and how experienced you are. This is your yoga routine so work in the areas you want or feel you need to. In the beginning this could be very simple poses with breathing exercises.
If you sit at a desk during the day, maybe you’ll want to hone in on hamstrings, back, and shoulder stretches. As you advance, your routine will naturally evolve. You’ll become more flexible, which makes you want to get more flexible and so you do more asanas.
It’s a positive reinforcement cycle so don’t stress on which routine you start with. Just pick one, keep it simple, and don’t let yourself off the hook. Keep practicing until it becomes habit.
Here’s a good routine for the desk jockey:
- Hamstring stretches (forward folds, downward dog, seated forward folds).
- Back stretches (cobra, sphinx, mountain pose, cat/cow pose).
- Neck stretches (side to side, ear to shoulder).
- Hip stretches (half-pigeon pose, bound angle/butterfly pose).
Being Aware of Your Body & Limits
Most of you that are regular yoga practitioners already know your limits. But if you’re just beginning in yoga, it’s a good idea not to stretch your home session to the limits, at least at first. Start slow until you learn the difference between the natural discomfort and the pain that indicates overstretching.
Pain is felt in an acute manner similar to a pin poking you. If you feel pain, slowly move out of that position. Jerking out of it might cause your body or joint harm. When any pain is felt in the joint, stop and get out of the pose. This includes all joints, but especially the neck, back, elbows and knees.
Discomfort is dull, but still undesirable. When discomfort is felt you can try adjusting the pose slightly. This can be done by making the limbs tighter or slightly moving them to another spot. A little discomfort is good though. You want to stretch which by definition pushes you slightly past your limit.
Listening to Your Body
Yoga is a mental, physical and, in some cases, spiritual discipline that makes it possible for you to get in touch with your body and how it feels. Most of us listen to our mind at first and try to determine what you body is saying. When you stop thinking, the true communication between you and your body will be revealed to you.
Always Warm Up
When you’re in the yoga studio you’re told what to do and when to do it. This usually includes a minimal 5 minute warm up session. This is a very important step in your yoga training. The warm up routine increases your blood circulation and raises your body temperature slightly to loosen your muscles and increase the depth of your stretches.
Since you won’t have an instructor at home, here are a few simple ideas you can do to get loose:
- lunge first with the left then the right leg
- Hip extensions
- Body squats
- Jumping jacks
Cold muscles tend to cramp easily and could cause you to injure yourself so always warm up. The main purpose is not to get tired, but to get loose and work up a light sweat. The warmer you are, the better your body will respond to deeper stretches. This one simple step can help you get twice as flexible in half the time.
Keeping a Journal
Items to include in your home yoga journal would be start and stop time, warm up procedure, postures in the order you did them and how you felt at the beginning and again at the end of your home yoga practice.
By keeping a written record of your sessions, you’ll be able to review it and notice if you are improving on the areas you want to get better at. It will also you how your sessions advance in time.
For those of you with the space in your Zen den, invite your friends over for a fun yoga session. By having someone to practice with, there is more incentive to do your yoga sessions on a consistent basis. This makes it easier and more fun.
What’s great about this is everyone can be doing the same posture, or this can be a free for all time where each person works on what they need to while still feeling that sense of community and togetherness.
Another advantage is that this might motivate your friends to create space at their house so your group can also go there. This way each person in your group can be the host and show their version of a Zen den.
Meditation and Pranayama
The meditation and Pranayama are two areas of yoga generally excluded from a typical studio yoga session. The reason is simple: time.
Meditation is done to sharpen the mind for clarity of focus. The time needed for this is an individual thing. The benefits are a reduction in stress level, anxiety and it helps those who are depressed break out from its grip.
Pranayama is a very important part of yoga. This is the art of breathing. With this incorporated into your life, your lungs will increase in their capacity while improving your circulation. This is very beneficial in many of the contorted postures used in yoga.
The Last Part
Just as the warm up is critical to your physical health before a session, the corpse posture is essential to you mental stability at the end. This is the part of your home yoga practice that restores both your mind and body. This posture should be held for about 5 minutes or as long as you feel comfortable.
This part of the session is designed to help your entire body and mind to relax. Fatigue, stress and anxiety will melt away. When you practice yoga at home you can do this posture for as long as you need to get the full benefits.
Starting your home yoga practice is really quite simple. You don’t need much other than a yoga mat, bolster and a few other simple tools. Then, you just clear a space in your living room and get started.
As long as you make time, learn how to do yoga correctly (by watching DVD’s or attending a few yoga classes), and pick a routine to stick with; you’ll have a habitual home yoga practice in no time flat.
And if you’re trying to lose weight, relieve back pain, and improve posture, you’re in luck because yoga is one of the best things for all that.
Did we cover everything or do you have something that helped you build your home yoga practice? Let us know!