Yoga at Home? No way.

Yoga at Home

Yoga at HomeI often hear from people that they think yoga could be beneficial for them, but they just don’t know where to start. Other comments include “I’m not flexible enough”, “I can’t afford to go to a fancy studio”, or “I’ll just do some stretches at home to improve my flexibility since that’s what yoga is about”. Don’t get me wrong, yoga studios are amazing! The instructors are there to help cue you into the proper position, help guide you with your breathing patterns, and the environment can make meditation seem easier. And yes, one of the many benefits of yoga includes improved flexibility, but it is more than that. It’s about becoming aware of your body, learning to match your breath with your movements, and can work many different systems in your body. You can work on all of these things from the comfort (and safety) of your own home and then as gyms/studios start to re-open you can transition to in-person classes if you prefer. I have personally found great reward in practicing at home as it saves me travel time and money!

So now that I’ve convinced you a yoga practice could be something you would enjoy, how are you supposed to do that with all the gyms closed and continued social distancing recommendations??

WHERE DO I START?

Start slowly and listen to your body. Ideally you will have a yoga mat to reduce your feet slipping on the tile or carpet, but initially you can use a towel or do it on the floor with a blanket to sit on or place under your knees. Find somewhere in your house that is quiet and uncluttered OR at least has enough room for you to move around comfortably and not be too distracted. If you are somewhat familiar with yoga, you can try to perform the poses you are most comfortable with and just move in and out of those as your body allows. If you’re like me and need more visual cues with some guidance, the internet is full of resources. Example: Search “15 minute yoga practice, yoga for beginners” for online videos or try purchasing a DVD or book to help you learn this new practice. This will give you some guidance to help you get a feel for some of the asanas and has a very low barrier to entry.

AM I DOING IT RIGHT?

Honestly, probably not. If this is your first time doing yoga, the pose isn’t going to look picture perfect and it may feel really awkward. It should not be painful! Find an appropriate stretch, but it is not about getting into the exact pose or “no pain, no gain” mentality. It will be important to bring a forgiving and playful attitude to your at home practice. There are no other class members watching to see if you are doing it correctly, so take this time at home to focus on the physical sensations and thoughts or emotions you have while practicing. Start with some of the “easier” poses like corpse pose, downward facing dog, child’s pose, cat/cow and slowly starting trying other things. Sun salutations are also great because they incorporate different poses into a series to work the entire body. Eventually, you may feel comfortable to try more challenging balance poses, inversions, or backbends if your body allows!

HOW DO I MAKE THIS A REGULAR PRACTICE?

Make this step easy on yourself and don’t convince yourself you need to do yoga or meditation every day for 30-60 minutes. The hardest part of any new habit is committing to it and making it a priority. Think of any new hobby or activity you started. It was probably frustrating at first when you weren’t very good at it or it just felt like it was taking up time you could be doing something else. Eventually the hobbies or activities that were no longer serving you started to occupy less of your time as you picked up this new activity that brought you joy. Try to find a time in your schedule where you can commit 10-20 minutes at least for yourself and your yoga practice. The benefit of at home practice is you are not forced to practice for X amount of minutes, you can come and go as you please. Yoga can be a time that allows you to try to improve not only your flexibility, strength and endurance, and breathing, but also allows you to improve your mindfulness and relaxation techniques.

There are very few people who would not benefit from yoga, so what’s the harm in trying a new at home practice with many of our typical exercise facilities closed for the time being?

Disclaimer: There are many different types of yoga, but for our purposes we are primarily talking about Hatha yoga. Hatha yoga is the most commonly offered yoga in classes or gyms. It focuses on asanas (yoga pose or posture) incorporated with breathing, body awareness, and meditation.

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Alyssa Charbonneau, PT, DPT, ATC, Cert-DN
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