How to Start and Maintain a Home Yoga Practice
You know that yoga is good for your body and mind, and you like what it does to your body and how it makes you feel. However, for one reason or another, you’ve decided that you’d like to start a home yoga practice and continue your yoga journey at home.
All by yourself.
While it may seem like an intimidating thing to do, I assure you it is absolutely doable. The trick here lies not so much in establishing a home yoga practice but instead – in successfully sticking with it.
When I decided to practice yoga at home, for a period of about five years, I started and gave it up more times than I would like to admit. In the meantime, I learned a few things that can help you avoid the mistakes that I made.
5 Tips for How to Start and Maintain a Successful Home Yoga Practice
1. Gather the Necessary Yoga Gear
The beauty of yoga is that you don’t really need much for it. You can take your practice literally anywhere: to the beach, park, hotel, or even the airport.
You can technically practice yoga at home without any props at all. Though, depending on the individual characteristics of your body and your goals, a few items may assist you, deepen your practice, or make it more enjoyable. Here are some things to consider:
Choose anything that you feel comfortable in and that doesn’t constrain your movement. Check out this post on the different types of yoga for clothing recommendations.
It provides cushioning and a better grip to prevent slipping. I personally advise investing in a more expensive one. It’ll feel better and last much longer. Here are some tips on choosing a yoga mat.
They are versatile props that can you can use while you work on strength and flexibility. It also helps restorative poses as well as more advanced ones. Go for a set of two.
You can use it to deepen your practice and make poses more accessible. Try different variations of postures while you develop your flexibility.
Those are great for providing support in slower-paced styles such as Restorative or Yin Yoga. Find more info on bolsters here.
While not a must, a blanket can provide extra support in various poses. Or you can cover yourself up during Savasana.
Check out this post for additional information on props that you can use in your yoga practice. I’ve also added some household items that you can use in their stead.
2. Create a Home Yoga Practice Space
Creating a dedicated space for your home yoga practice can be a great way to get you in the right mood and not let you give in to excuses. If you have enough space, clear out a corner, a section of a room, or an entire room where you’re going to practice.
Decorate it with objects that would set you in the right mood. Organize your props and roll out your mat (don’t leave it rolled out if you have pets, because – claws). Place a few plants (unless you have tiny and curious baby hands to watch out for). Get some figurines, a few candles, or incense. You can also hang up a poster, painting, or tapestry, or, if the house or apartment is your own, you can even get some wall art.
If your space is limited and there is no way you can carve out a permanent practice spot, I get you. Organize a nightstand or a shell with some items that can get you in the mood. Remove or relocate anything that you may bump into.
Put on some music if that’s your thing, and roll out your mat. Take a few minutes to do some breathing exercises and meditate to set the mood. And finally, make the most of tip number 3 to keep you on track.
3. Plan and Schedule Your Home Yoga Practice Ahead
When you sign up for a class, it’s easier to keep accountable for your practice. You make a commitment by paying for it, so you’re more likely to show up.
When you’re doing it at home, it may seem like a piece of cake. Sadly though, you are highly likely to constantly find yourself being distracted or having other stuff to do. Trust me on this, I work from home, and getting things done and staying productive is not always as easy as it may seem.
Therefore, to stick with your practice, you may want to actually plan and schedule it in advance. Take a few minutes at the end of the week to write down in your calendar the days and times you’re going to practice yoga at home in the following week. Take your preferences and lifestyle into consideration:
- Are you a morning or an evening person?
- Will you be able to get out of bed earlier, or is it more realistic to practice yoga after work?
- Which days suit you best?
- When are you the least likely to get distracted by family or chores?
You may want to try out different options to find what works best for you.
Also, don’t forget that you should generally practice yoga on an empty or relatively empty stomach. About 2-3 hours after a big meal.
If you’re starving, though, grab something small, like a piece of fruit, to beat the hunger pangs.
4. Experiment with Different Home Yoga Practice Methods
The beauty of modern technological advancements is that you can find virtually anything online. It applies to yoga as well. Here are a few methods to practice it outside the studio or gym (you can choose one that you like most or combine a few or all of them):
There are, literally, numerous yoga classes and tutorials online. Do a simple search containing the keywords of the practice you’d like to have. Such as “30-minute morning yoga flow” or “how to do … pose” and you’re likely going to have plenty to choose from.
- Monthly online memberships
Various yoga websites offer programs that you can follow for a monthly fee. (Check out my online yoga studio if you’s like to practice with me.)
If you’d like to get your hands on something more tangible, you can choose a book or a few. These normally offer a breakdown of the most popular postures with alignment cues. And depending on the author, they can also include some easy-to-follow sequences.
Because nowadays, there is an app for everything. This can be a great way to take your practice with you anywhere you go.
- One-on-one online classes
If you’re looking for something more personalized and would like a teacher to guide you throughout your home practice, you can also hire a private yoga tutor. You can have classes in person or via Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, or a similar platform. This would be the priciest of the methods. But it would allow you to practice with a skilled instructor from virtually anywhere in the world. You will also have your home yoga practice tailored specifically to your needs.
5. Listen to Your Body
Now that you have everything set up, don’t forget to pay attention to how your body is feeling. More specifically, to the pain.
Generally, muscle pain, soreness, and discomfort are fine. When you work on your strength, endurance, and flexibility, this is likely to happen. You may need to adjust yourself or use yoga props to feel more comfortable.
However, if you feel pain in the joints, spine, neck, or lower back or sharp and piercing pain, back off. Do it slowly and gently, though. Pay a visit to your physician if anything is worrying you.
I also strongly advise a consult with a doctor if you have any preexisting health conditions or injuries that may affect your practice. Before you start your home yoga practice, of course.
BONUS TIP: Take an Actual Yoga Class Every Now and Then
This may seem counterintuitive because isn’t the entire purpose of having a home practice not needing to go to a class? Well, yes.
Going to an actual class under the supervision of an experienced teacher from time to time can be incredibly beneficial.
A skilled yoga instructor can assess and correct your alignment, use hands-on adjustments to perfect your postures, as well as provide support and assistance. This can help you to deepen your practice and correct mistakes you may be making, even if you’re not aware of them. It’ll also ensure you get the most out of the poses, provide you with new ideas, and help you to prevent injuries.
Here are some options that you can try:
- Drop-in classes
Instead of signing up for a regular class, you can take a single drop-in class. You’ll get the most out of it if you talk to the teacher beforehand. Explain that you practice yoga at home and would like some hands-on adjustments or feedback on your performance.
If you’d like to combine a vacation with yoga, that can be a marvelous option. Retreats are regularly organized in different corners of the globe. They usually combine yoga, touristy things, and even other activities, such as cooking classes, surfing, dancing, and more.
Have a favorite InstaYogi you’d like to practice with? Check out their schedule. Yoga instructors frequently organize workshops in different locations. You can also check in with your local studios or do some research online to find what is available in your geographic location.
- One-on-one classes
Private yoga classes are growing in popularity. And, as with any tutor, you can also have them at the location of your choice.
But most importantly, just do it. It doesn’t have to be perfect or fancy. You don’t have to have all the props by your side to start your home yoga practice.
Start with a few minutes a few times a week and grow your practice over time. Experiment, and you’ll find what works for you.
Yoga isn’t about being perfect but about making the effort to show up and practice.
Interested in starting a home yoga practice? Perhaps you already have one? What challenges you?