Practicing yoga at home has never been easier… Just make sure that all your phones are turned off. Set up your mind, your inner and outer circumstances, let your practice be undisturbed. If you are a beginner to yoga or relatively new and want to establish an at-home yoga practice, it is important to do some groundwork before jumping into the fray. Read yoga literature, watch some videos and take some yoga classes before you start up at home. Learn how to listen to your body. To prevent injury and maximize the power of your yogic experience, careful preparation and modest investments can make learning yoga at home viable, efficient and fun.
Here are ten tips to help you establish an at-home yoga practice.
- Create a space
Set aside a space dedicated to your yoga practice. Make sure it is free from furniture that could create a hazard to you as you do various yoga asana. Your yoga space should be clean and serene. Decorate it with images and objects that create peaceful and serene feeling in your heart.
- Invest in tools of the trade
If you do not already have a sticky yoga mat, purchase one. There are yoga mats for every budget and taste. A mat cleaner will keep your mat smelling fresh after tough workouts. Make sure you have two blocks and a strap for modifications and consider getting a yoga blanket. Not only will they keep you warm when you relax in savasana but they can also be rolled up to help you modify poses. You may need two bolsters for under your knees, and you will probably want at least one style of zafu or meditation cushion.
- Carefully prevent injury
- If your grandmother told you that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, she was right. When you practice yoga at home, it is your job to make sure that you don’t injury yourself. Keep your space clear of obstacles like furniture and children’s toys, and if possible, do your yoga in a room with hardwood floors. Soft surfaces can injury joints and thick carpet makes balancing difficult. Lifeboard is a hard surface that you can put on top of carpeting to make a transportable yoga floor if necessary.
Never force a posture. If you are going to tip over your edge, it is better to have a teacher who can watch you and help you go further. At home, take it easy. Don’t compete with your body. Love your body, nurture your body and be present. Be present, warm up, fully get into the poses you know… that is how an at-home practice should be. More difficult poses should be in a class, where your teacher can make a safe environment for you.
- Choose your yoga style
There are so many styles of yoga to choose from that it can be a little daunting at first. But rather than be overwhelmed, be excited! There are so many forms to choose from that if you don’t like one, you have several others to test out. Hatha yoga is the most common form of yoga, but there are several schools of hatha yoga to choose from. Beginners may try something like Iyengar yoga or hatha yoga with props to help them learn the mechanics of a pose. If dynamic movement is your true love, dynamic yoga or vinyasa flow might be the perfect style for you. Shop around for teachers and styles that appeal to you, so that you know what will inspire you at home.
- Get instruction
Once you find a style and a teacher you like, go to a few yoga classes. You can either enroll a specific yoga for home preparatory course or a self practice workshop. Then you can develop yourself privately. You can work with a teacher to find a series appropriate for you to do at home. Nothing replaces a teacher giving you personal instruction.
- Do further research
If you cannot find a teacher in your area, or if you want to further educate yourself about yoga, invest in some books and flash cards. They are handy references to have while learning about the finer points of asana. Magazines such as Yoga Journal can provide inspiration and a feeling of connection to a larger yoga community. The internet is a wealth of resources for an at-home yoga practice. You can go onto Itunes and find a yoga podcast that works for your level and interests. You can also join an online yoga club, which will give you access to videos, podcasts and guides with master teachers. You can join Yoga Glo which films their yoga classes and allows you to participate from home. I Yoga Life has many videos that you can watch and participate with that are appropriate for a variety of levels. Purchasing some yoga DVDs with master instructors can help you take your practice to the next level.
- Take your yoga with you
Even when you are not at home, you can be enhancing your home yoga practice. Iphone applications are a great way to study yoga asana on the go, or even practice your pranayama. Many yoga applications are free and others, such as Long Deep Breathing to help you learn to control your breath, are very affordable. Going for a hike in the summer months? Do some simple yoga and breathwork along the trail to connect more deeply with yourself and with Mother Nature, or learn Breathwalk as a spiritual practice.
- Be gentle
If you are a beginner to yoga, start as such, whether you are in shape or not. Start with small increments of time. Even 20 minutes of yoga to begin with is stretching areas of your body in a new way. Start slowly when beginning a yoga practice. Yoga can serve as a fitness routine either, though it was designed as a way to achieve spiritual union and purify the body to prepare it for meditation. Respect the discipline and your body enough to give it time to adjust to your practice.
- Set the mood
For many, good music during yoga is one of the best parts of the practice. Consider keeping ipod speakers and your ipod in your yoga space. Begin collecting music conducive to a beautiful yoga experience or make a playlist just for your practice. Decide what style of music will support you in your yoga practice. Later on you can change at any time anyway.
- Relax and meditate
The purpose of yoga was to support meditation. In your home yoga practice, do not forget to take the time after your workout to relax the mind while you are relaxing your body. You can choose from many relaxation techniques. Choose one appropriate to the moment when you are lying in savasana. Then there are so many forms of meditation. Try something simple, such as sitting with a straight spine, closing your eyes and focusing on your breath. The benefits of meditation include everything from lowering your blood pressure to improving your mood.
Remember that yoga is a practice of honoring yourself and your body. Take the time to rediscover your body and soul in a nurturing, self-supportive way. Try to find the time in your busy life to take even ten minutes for yourself in your new sacred space. The stresses of the day and world outside your yoga space might seem pressing and urgent, but ultimately whether the dishes are put away, that e-mail is sent and the laundry is done is not as important as whether or not you feel at home in your body and are in touch with the divinity within you. Start your yoga practice at home slowly, continue steadily and gently, and while you look at your hamstrings stretch, watch your spirit soar.