Yoga at home… is it even practical?
High time to bring in a wellness practice into your routine, you are thinking.
You no longer want to compromise your health because of the COVID restrictions of staying at home. With the whole world going through challenging times, that is a common thought.
And although there is much buzz about Online Yoga, you are wondering how and where to start.
Sure, the internet is full of Yoga instructional videos but you are afraid that going into a new or deep practice un-assisted, may cause more harm than good.
And you are right.
So, let me take you through 3 easy steps in which you can set up a Yoga at home practice, most importantly an effective one.
Step 1. Does it Align with Your WHY
Every fitness or wellness discipline has its own USPs, as we call it in the modern-day. Essentially things that make it stand out from the others. The first step must be to see if those unique propositions align with your WHY.
The Basic Nature of a Yoga Practice
Once you understand the basic aim of a certain discipline, you naturally understand whether it matches your temperament.
Therefore, let us be very clear on the fact that Yoga is a spiritual practice.
Most people may not know that when they come to it through Asanas, but if you keep practicing in the right manner, the layers reveal themselves. That said, while you decide to stick to it just as a wellness regime, you absolutely can, and you will reap the immense benefits of body and breath practices like Asana and Pranayama.
However, as the science itself is designed to align us with the ultimate itself, every limb of Yoga has the potential to fulfill you inside out – body, mind, and soul.
You may choose to come into Yoga to lose weight, tone up, or simply to include some exercise in your regime, but be sure that it will be touching every aspect of your being, if you give it enough time.
The Principal tools at Use
The most important element in a Yoga class, if you are sticking to the original form of Hatha Yoga is Breath and Awareness.
Yoga is a science to raise your awareness about the body and mind to such a high level that the inner joy inside you unfolds itself – the reason Yoga is so effective in managing mental conditions. And breath is the tool that is easiest to work with to achieve this aim, for all practical purposes.
So be prepared for a rhythmic mindful practice with deep breathing and not jumping from poll to post aimlessly. It is going to take patience and faith. The speed of your movements should not be overtaking the awareness of your breath at any point in time in Yoga.
Since it is a spiritual practice, tools like the eternal sound of Om to invoking a deity’s name or chanting a mantra can be a part of your class and you should be ready to open to such elements. They are not against, or for any religion, but purely scientific tools to deepen your practice.
Why Online Live Class vs Free Videos
Asanas are a matter of disciplining the mind through the body. And as we approach the body, the first thing that needs to develop is awareness – of the body itself.
I have seen many students doing something completely different than what is being instructed, just because it takes us time to get our bearings when we first get to Asanas. Body awareness is developed slowly and the corrections made by the teacher make a huge difference.
It is just like posture correction in general life; I didn’t even know I had the habit of walking with my left shoulder slightly lifted as if I am carrying a purse all the time, even without carrying it… Until someone pointed it out.
The cues and tips given to you by the teacher in a live class is completely different learning than from a recorded video – it is an impersonal way of approaching a completely personal subject.
Once you develop enough awareness of the body, and intermediate knowledge in the subject, you may start learning some Asanas through videos.
However, even in my case, if I want to learn a new sequence or get better at arm balances or backbends, I would always choose to learn from a teacher personally. As we move towards advanced Asanas, a teacher’s observation and instructions become even more important to avoid injuries and side-effects.
Step 2. Everything comes down to the Basics
Once you have decided that Yoga suits your temperament and requirements, you want to set up a Yoga at home practice. Start with setting some basics right, which is indispensable to have a productive practice – Time, Space, and Gear.
Setting Up Space
There is huge importance about choosing the right space in Yoga and once chosen, sticking to it. As this is an energy practice, we do not want to move away from the space in which we start working with it (energy).
As we talk about Yoga at Home, all of us may not have the luxury to choose an ideal space. However, we still can make the spaces available to us conducive for our Yoga practice.
Fans or Air Conditioners should not be used while practicing, however, if you lack a well-ventilated space, use them at minimum, so you don’t feel extremely uncomfortable sweating.
Make sure there is enough distance between you and the device you are using to access the class, so your teacher can see your movements in entirety. Not only do you want to see the teacher’s movements completely, but they should also be able to see yours so they can make the appropriate corrections, which is one of the major points.
Invest in the Right Gear
You do not want your hands and feet to keep slipping or your joints screaming while you support them during the practice. Having the right yoga mat can make all the difference to a productive practice.
Invest in a mat with a firm grip and enough thickness to support your joints. And hence choosing a mat that harms the environment is not a choice for me, I did enough research on this subject and found an economic and eco-friendly option finally – Strauss TPE Eco-Friendly Dual Layer Yoga Mat.
Cotton durries and straw mats etc. do not work best for this purpose on their own unless you are using an anti-slip mat below them. You may hit and try several times before you find the right one for you, unless you just go ahead with my recommendation above, simply because it comes after many such hit and trial errors 😊
Understand the Importance of Time
The practice of Yoga is conditioning the mind through time, space, and movement. Hence just like the place of our practice, we also should stick to one time for the practice.
That said, certain hours in a day are more conducive to a Yoga practice than others. A broad category would be morning & evening 6 to 10. Amongst that, morning time is the best in terms of freedom of any kind of practice you want to do – slow, medium as well as intensive. Hatha Yoga practices when done without care and proper knowledge can also have severe side-effects.
For evenings, however, only slow practices are recommended and you may have to strictly regulate your food intake the whole day to participate in an evening practice. If that is your only time slot available, keep these things in mind.
It is only a matter of setting priorities right in case you think you cannot make time for Yoga in your days. Choose a time and stick to it.
Step 3. Essentials are Essential
Before you attend your first yoga class online, it will be good to have a basic understanding of the most common features of a Yoga class. Let us go ahead and do that –
Get Your Rhythm in sync with the Sun
You can be sure that Surya Namaskara will be a part of any Yoga class. Also, once you know the traditional Surya Namaskara sequence, you will be comfortable with the basic Yoga forward and backward bends.
The twelve Yoga Poses for the traditional Surya Namaskara (Sivananda style) are –
- Hasta Uttanasana
- Ashwa Sanchalanasana
- Ashtanga Namaskara
- Ashwa Sanchalanasana
- Hasta Uttanasana
Make yourself familiar with Surya Namaskara by practicing it a couple of times each day before you join an Asana class and you are good to go!
Get your Om and Namaste Right
If you do not want to feel like a complete outsider in a Yoga class or are ready to dive into the art head first, familiarize yourself with some Yoga language.
‘Om’ is the primal sound – the sound of the creation or what we know in science as the big-bang. There can be many opinions on how to pronounce it right, but normally in Yoga classes, people stick to ‘Om’ as it is. It regulates the breath and brings a sense of calm and focus to the, exactly what we need as Yoga practitioners. Here is one version –
Namaste or Namaskara has a lot of meanings, but the simplest is ‘I bow to you’. It is essentially bowing to the eternal consciousness present in each one of us, and therefore is the perfect humble beginning and ending to every Yoga session.
The Right Teacher Makes All the Difference
Last but not least by any stretch of the imagination is finding a good teacher.
A good teacher can take your practice to another level gradually and a bad one can ruin parts of your body and mind. Yeah, no kidding.
Therefore, make sure that you are learning from a properly qualified Yoga Coach with at least 500 hours of training below their belt, and the more the experience the better.
Also, take hints from the kind of life they are living themselves, and that should be proof enough of how much benefit they themselves have derived from Yoga. If you know someone personally and their journey, that is always the best.
Ask questions, check qualifications, and once you have decided upon a Yoga Teacher, stick to them to see real results – because they take time and consistency.
Your Next Step
You know now that Yoga at home is very much practical and with live online Yoga classes you do not have to compromise your health anymore.
Go through this post as many times as you want, and if Yoga aligns with your why, set up your basics and start brushing up on the essentials.
Make sure you practice with a qualified teacher and never forget that consistency is the only way to garner results, irrespective of the teacher.
Most importantly, whenever you keep slipping, remember why you began in the first place.
I wish you a lifetime of wellness!
P.S. – I am an internationally certified Hatha Yoga Teacher and therapist.