10 tips for practicing yoga at home

Practicing yoga at home has never been easier.  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.  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.

1)  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 a peaceful and sacred feeling in your heart

2) Invest in tools of the trade

 

If you do not already have a yoga sticky 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

3) 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.

Christel Pierron (Seva Simran Kaur), an experienced teacher of Hatha Yoga, YogaDance, and Kundalini Yoga in Cape Cod, cautions, “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.”

4) 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.  Pierron recommends that beginners try something like Iyengar yoga or Kripalu yoga to help them learn the mechanics of a pose.  If dynamic movement and deep meditation is your true love, Kundalini Yoga 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.

5) Get Instruction

Once you find a style and a teacher you like, go to a few yoga classes.  Then you can develop yourself privately.  You can work with a teacher to find a series appropriate for you to do at home. Says Pierron, “Nothing replaces a teacher giving you personal instruction.”

6) 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 yoga books or 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 such as Gaiam Yoga club, which will give you access to videos, podcasts and guides with master teachers Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman-Yee.  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.  Rodney Yee is an excellent source of instruction for Hatha yoga.  If you fall in love with Ashtanga yoga and want to create a solid at home practice without having a lot of time, a video such as David Swenson’s Short Forms is a wonderful resource.  Vinyasa yoga is a more fluid and often physically demanding form of yoga, but a Shiva Rea video might be just the ticket for your at home practice.  If Kundalini Yoga is where your heart is, try a video by Gurmukh.

7)  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.

8 ) Be gentle

“If you are a beginner to yoga, start as such, whether you are in shape or not,” counsels Christel Pierron.  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 was not designed as a fitness routine, but as a way to achieve spiritual union with the divine 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.

9)  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.

Spirit Voyage has an extensive collection of Yoga Music, including a Yoga Living Series.  Decide what style of music will support you in your yoga practice.  Love Kundalini music?  Try Snatam Kaur. Like groovy Sanskrit mantras?  Listen to some Wah! For mellow instrumentals, Deuter is a favorite.  Shiva Rea has even compiled a collection of trance music suitable for Vinyasa flow.

10) 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 meditate and relax the mind while you are relaxing your body 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 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.

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Ramdesh Kaur, MA, is an IKYTA Certified Kundalini Yoga teacher trained by Gurmukh. She writes extensively on yoga, spirituality and mantra. She hosts the show "Spirit Voyage Radio with Ramdesh" on Unity FM, one of the Top 100 Itunes Podcasts, and leads Spirit Voyage's 40 Day Global Sadhanas, which bring together 20,000 meditators from 65 countries. Before working with Spirit Voyage, she was the residential Kundalini yoga teacher at Parmarth Niketan in Rishikesh, India in the Himalyan foothills, and has a Master's Degree from the Courtauld Institute in London. She is the author of "Yoga and Mantras for a Whole Heart" with Karan Khalsa and has three best selling guided meditation CDs "Journey into Stillness", "Relaxation Meditations", and "Stress Relief Meditations" (with crystal singing bowl master Ashana) all available on Spirit Voyage, ITunes and Amazon. She teaches at festivals internationally and leads powerful personal creativity retreats in Mexico with her partner Harnam Singh, an accomplished mantra musician. www.ramdesh.com

11 Comments

  1. I love to do yoga but how to start first

    Reply
  2. Thanks for the post. I don’t think you need lots of tools unless you are too weak or too inflexible yet. I started doing yoga with only a mat, and I barely use anything these days. But I agree that for some people using props may be helpful. I also wrote a post with tips for making one’s home practice better. You can read it here: http://anadi.net/660/tips-for-doing-yoga-at-home/

    Reply
  3. Yoga wear is also an important consideration as body flexibilty is very important during yoga or any fitness training.

    Reply
  4. gooooooooooooooood but risk

    Reply
  5. Hi, I’m chengcheng from Singapore.An amazing community here for yoga learning

    Reply
  6. I took about ten yoga lessons, which was enough to see that an instructor is vital to serious yoga practice. Unfortunately, that can get prohibitively expensive for some of us. Can you suggest a good approach that addresses quality and affordability?

    Reply
    • Hi Lou!

      I think there are several good options for those who want to practice yoga while also honoring their finances. As someone who rarely takes live classes, I think it’s quite possible to develop a serious yoga practice from home. It just requires a good deal of commitment and a healthy dose of being careful!

      Depending on where a person lives, there may be a number of options that would allow one to take regularly scheduled studio classes. You might look into whether or not yoga studios in your community have some sort of work-study exchange – many teachers are happy to do something like this so that yoga is accessible to more people. Some studios also have community classes at discount rates, and/or classes taught by those in teacher training. There are more and more yoga studios popping up in bigger cities that are donation-based studios, again as an effort to ensure that yoga is affordable for anyone who wants to learn. Another option might be to investigate whether any local studios offer free meditations – the Kundalini yoga studio in my city does sadhana daily (for free) and a free 62 minute meditation every evening. For those who are able, that’s 3.5 hours of yoga for free every day!

      If there is no way to take a regularly scheduled class at this time, I would recommend investing in several good dvds. Personally, I am partial to Gurmukh’s dvds because I enjoyed the live classes I have had the opportunity to take with her on a couple of occasions. But any yoga dvd you enjoy from a reputable teacher can be beneficial. You can rotate through them, or do one for 40 or 90 days as a sadhana. Also, Anne Novak is a Kundalini yoga teacher who has made several great videos for Spirit Voyage, which you can find sprinkled here and there on the blog and also on youtube.

      I think the style of yoga you do can also make a difference. Because Kundalini yoga is based so much on the movement of energy within individual bodies, studying from dvds can be quite fulfilling. If you’re interested in hatha styles like vinyasa or Iyengar, I think supplementing a home practice with a teacher whenever possible is important. One or two classes a month to work on refinement, and to ensure that you have correct alignment when you practice can make your home practice more beneficial.

      I hope some of these suggestions help!

      Liz

      Reply
      • Great answer Liz!

        Reply
  7. Hi..i am Siswati from Indonesia. nice blog :)

    Reply
    • Hi, thanks for these tips. While practicing at home is a good idea. I think it will be better to start at a yoga studio first and then after we are sure enough to practice it safely by self, then we should start practicing on our own. Thanks for these tips again.

      Reply

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