Starting at an home yoga practice has many benefits and can be a great way to start and grow your practice. You don’t always need a fancy studio and expensive clothes to start, the practice of yoga is so much more than that.
So, if you are thinking of starting your own home yoga practice, my hope is that by the end of this post you will have all the information you need to get going.
You can also join me from the comfort of your home with Zoom yoga classes, find out more here!
Introduction to yoga
The meaning of yoga can get a little lost in amongst social media, so I feel it is important to touch on this to help you understand what yoga is and get the most out of your home practice.
In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, a text widely known as the authoritative text on yoga, describes yoga as the “science of the mind”.
Yoga offers a guide to live a more purposeful life, which started as meditation, pranayama and a way of life, and slowly moved into the physical postures (asanas) that you more commonly see now.
Personally, I feel it is important to incorporate the different aspects of yoga to really experience the benefits. Yoga is amazing for your mental health, as well as physical health, helping you to incorporate mindfulness, focus on your mental wellbeing and build strength.
Benefits of starting a home yoga practise
Starting a home practice can be a great, easy and flexible way to incorporate yoga into your busy life.
Not only can you practice on your own terms but Zoom classes or YouTube classes come at a much more affordable price. There are many other benefits, including:
- Less intimidating, no fear, judgement or comparison
- Fit around your busy schedule and practice whenever you want
- Create your own space
- Choose the style to fit your mood
What you need to start yoga at home (equipment)
There is nothing you NEED to get started with yoga at home. The suggestions below are there if they can be accessed.
I would argue, if you have a small, clear space at home or even can find a space outside in a park, you can get started with yoga.
Below are some basic recommendations to help support your practise.
Most yoga mats have a strong grip which allow you to practice with more ease and even soften the floor slightly which can be beneficial if practising on a hard surface.
Not essential, but if you have the means, they can be helpful in assisting in poses and help you to go deeper. Alternatively, you can use a household item to aid your practice, for example, some books or water bottles.
Another non-essential item that can be replaced at home with a scarf or dressing gown chord, but can come in handy with growing in new poses or provide an alternative (for example, in a bind pose).
Also optional, these can be used at the end of your practice in Svasana (final resting pose) to aid in relaxation. They can also be useful if you opt for restorative style yoga.
Make sure you have some water handy so you can stay hydrated throughout your practice, especially if you are opting for a more physically demanding practice.
If you are opting for a more dynamic, energetic practice or like to crank up the heat, then you may wish to have a towel handy for when things get heated!
Some people like to makeshift their own “hot yoga” practice, by turning on their heating or using a small space heater. Some say that practicing hot yoga can help you go deeper into poses and release certain toxins.
What you need to start yoga at home (mindset)
We so often think about all the physical things we need to get started with something, like yoga, but there are also many mental things that are important to enable us to get started, stay consistent and benefit from the practice.
My top 6 mindset tips for getting started with yoga are:
- Be open to the practice and trying new things
- Be prepared to fall over and fail… and remember to not take it so seriously. We all have to start somewhere!
- Get curious
- Focus on what the practice feels like rather than what it looks like
- Let go of expectations
- Stay committed and consistent. Practising at home can make it easier, but can also make it harder. Stay on the sofa watching Netflix or get up and practise? When you don’t have a booking and somewhere to be, it can make that choice a little harder.
- Set realistic goals and keep showing up for yourself and remember you can adjust your practise to how you are feeling.
Set up your space to practice
So you now know what you need for your practice, here is how to pull that together to get started.
Find a time and day that works for you
If we spend too long waiting for the right moment or to feel ready, we will never start.
Find a day and time that you know you can set aside to practice and commit to it. If you are new to yoga, or find it hard to stick to your commitments, I would recommend starting with small time slot, perhaps 10-20 minutes to get you started. When we commit to something more realistic, we are more likely to stick to it.
When we stick to it, we are building self-trust and a little momentum to keep going.
Find a space
A small space is perfect, as long as you can fit your mat into it! If you have the means, I would also recommend ensuring the space is quiet, clean and clear from distractions, allowing you to focus more on your practice.
Set up your equipment
When you are ready to practice, gather all the equipment you need and want to use before you get started. This way you don’t have to keep stopping and starting throughout your practice.
Make sure you opt for clothes that are comfortably and can easily move with you in your practice.
Everyone is different, some like to practice in silence and that’s okay. There is nothing essential to the practice apart from showing up and breathing. If you wish to, you can experiment with some extra items, just for fun. Here are some examples:
- Light some incense or candles
- Play some music or calming sounds
- Add some pretty décor
The aim is to create a space that you can move, breathe and focus in and as free from distractions as possible. None of this is essential though, just taking a few moments out of your day can be enough.
Different ways to practice yoga
Yoga practice is most commonly known as the movement through physical postures. While this is true, that is only a tiny aspect of yoga and wasn’t actually part of the traditional yoga practice.
It is important to understand yoga as a whole, because regardless of your space, time or status, you can make time for “yoga” in anyway throughout your day/week. As you will learn, they all provide a well-rounded positive effect on our mental wellbeing, and arguably simple yet important things that are often missed in Western medicine.
The term “yoga” is known to mean “connect” or “unite” and in this way, there are different rituals and practices to help move through life and find freedom. None of this, however, comes at the cost of expensive yoga clothes or studios.
According to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, there is an eight-fold process to help us on this path. These include asanas (physical postures), meditation, breathing techniques and certain principles for a way of life, all encompassed in the 8 limbs of yoga.
Meditation is a tool of focus and concentration, to help understand our minds, practice focus, reduce stress and live mindfully in the present. Meditation helps us observe our thoughts without judgement and train our brains to come back to the present moment.
Using the breathe and body to stay connected to the present moment is a powerful tool. It can be argued that the practice of yoga is meditative, with a focus on breath and body. You can also include meditation in your day, or the start or your practice.
Start by sitting in a comfortable seated position, close your eyes and focus on your breath. If you are knew to meditation, perhaps set a timer for 2 minutes or use a guided meditation.
Pranayama is breathing techniques, which comes from prana meaning “energy” or “life source”. This be because our breath is the very thing that keeps us alive and has the power to affect our physical and mental state.
So, by working with the breath, we can positively affect our body. There are many different breathing techniques we can adopt, both on the mat within our practice. Most common is the Ujjayi breath, used throughout a class.
You may also experience different techniques such as sama vritti, kapalabhati and bhramari breath. Pranayama can also be used off the mat in everyday life, for example, to ease a feeling of stress and anxiety in the moment.
Asanas are the movement and transitions into different postures, all with their own given benefits that are put to flow together with breath and sometimes music.
The only guidance given on asanas is to find ease and comfort within the seated pose, meant for meditation but can be applied to all asanas. Doing poses within the limitations of our own bodies, without aches and pains, and with practice and consistency, it becomes more comfortable.
This is a really good way to reflect on your yoga practice. Are you finding ease in your asanas? Or are you always choosing the advanced options?
Different styles of the physical yoga practice
Physical yoga has become an important practice, to help us breathe, meditate, build strength and incorporate more mindfulness into our lives. Research shows that a regular physical yoga practice can be beneficial for our mental health and wellbeing.
Below are some of the most common styles of the physical yoga practice. Whether you are knew to yoga or a well seasoned practitioner, it might be an idea to experiment with different styles (and aspects of yoga as above) to find what you enjoy, what helps you mentally and physically, and what you can use to help you grow.
Hatha is an umbrella term used to describe the physical yoga practice, but also used to describe a practice of yoga that is slower and more suited to beginners.
Vinyasa yoga involves dynamic movement and transitions with a range of different poses. These can range from slower classes, to more energetic ones.
Ashtanga yoga encompasses the same poses within each class, until you perform them with ease and move onto the next level. These classes are known to be physically demanding.
Hot yoga usually involves one of the styles of movement above, but in a heated room from 30 degrees Celsius and above. You can try to replicate this at home with your own heaters, but in a studio will be much hotter, to encourage sweating.
A restorative style of yoga that focuses on poses that are held for a longer period.
Kundalini yoga focuses on mantras, breathing exercises, energy bodies and repetitive poses.
Breathing in yoga practice
Although pranayama was briefly mentioned above, in yoga classes it is common to use ujjiayi breath throughout the practice. This is a simple act of breathing deep, in and out through your nose and engaging the whisper muscles on the back of your throat as you breathe out, to make an audible sound (also known as ocean breath… or referred to as Darth vader 😛)
Ujjayi breath is known to build heat, energy and help us focus.
It can take some time to get used to at first, but start by breathing deep, and focusing on linking your breath with your movement.
Where to find yoga flows to practice at home?
There are many different ways you can start your at home yoga practice. You can learn some foundational poses and go with your intuition, moving in anyway that feels good.
You can also find free practices on YouTube, online Zoom classes or online guides to follow.
I hope this helps! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
I also offer online Zoom yoga classes (including some free options) if you would like to join me. I would love to practice with you! Hope to see you on the mat 😙
In the meantime, I have a short flow on my Instagram account to help get you started!