Practising yoga at home is worth doing: it's a great complement to your studio classes, you can do your practice anywhere (check out our offline viewing app), at any time of the day or night, you can wear what you like and you don’t need much in the way of equipment.
It’s pretty inexpensive to do (you can get access to nearly 3,000 classes on EkhartYoga for a little as 33 cents a day) - or FREE if you do a self-guided practice - and there’s no travel required.
Best of all, yoga at home teaches you to pay attention to your own body, to understand what it needs on any given day and how to practise in a way that supports you both physically and mentally.
Not sure where to begin? Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Get a mat and gather some props
One of the best things about yoga is that you don’t need much equipment. However, a mat and props can help your alignment and make some poses more comfortable. When yoga first became prevalent in the West, yogis practised on towels or cotton mats; it wasn’t until around the 1980s that ‘sticky mats’ became more widely used. Nowadays, the yoga mat and accessories industry is a booming business, with a huge array of choice to suit almost every requirement. To help you choose the best mat for you, read our Best yoga mat review. Yoga accessories can take up a bit of space (and cash) so read how to replace them with common household items.
2. Clear some space
In an ideal world you’d have your mat permanently unrolled in your dedicated yoga room - but most of us don’t have this luxury. If possible, try and find a place to practise in your house (or garden, if you have one) that’s peaceful and quiet. Having a wall nearby might be helpful too but it’s not essential. Some people like to decorate their practice space with things like candles and incense, a photograph that inspires them or other personal effects, but the most important thing is that you have enough space to stretch out without bumping into tables, chairs, shelves etc. You’re more likely to unclutter your mind if the space you are practicing in is also clutter-free.
3. Commit to a time and make it achievable
Consider what works best for you - are you a morning person or an evening person? Could you squeeze in a bit of yoga on your lunch break? As for the ‘ideal’ length of time to practise, forget about whether your friend practises for an hour each day or what you think constitutes a ‘proper’ yoga practice and go with what works best for you. Perhaps start by making a commitment to practise for 10 minutes a day. [If you think you don’t have ten minutes to spare, use the time you spend browsing Facebook, instead ;)]. Alternatively, you could try blocking out a particular time on a certain day if that works better for you. The key is, it has to fit in with YOUR life - if it doesn’t you won’t keep it up.
Perhaps start by making a commitment to practise for 10 minutes a day (If you think you don’t have 10 minutes to spare, use the time you spend browsing Facebook, instead).
4. Beware of the 3 Ps
Always honour your body’s boundaries and avoid pain, pinching and pushing. If you’re new to yoga you may find it difficult to distinguish between pain and discomfort. Pain feels hot and sharp, whereas discomfort is more of a dull, nagging sensation. Generally speaking, STOP if it's inside the joint structure (knees, spine, hips, neck, etc.) For more on this subject, watch this short video. If you do feel pain, move gently rather than suddenly out of the pose. If you feel discomfort, perhaps you can soften or adjust or even use props to assist you.
It’s always advisable to warm up properly before attempting advanced poses and be especially mindful of the transitions between poses as it’s during these moments we often forget to pay attention to our alignment.
5. Plan ahead
Another advantage of doing a home yoga practice, particularly if you’re doing an online class and your time is really stretched, is you can decide which class you’re going to do the day before. If you prefer a little more spontaneity, you could try our Surprise Me function - you tell us how much time you have and what kind of class you’re looking for and we’ll give you three options to pick from.
6. Follow your body’s lead
If you’re used to following a sequence from a book or an online class, once a week, close your laptop or book and just get on your mat and do your own thing. This can feel really daunting at first but ignore that nagging worry that you won’t know what to do; yoga doesn’t need to be a seamlessly structured series of poses. Just get on your mat and wriggle around for five minutes doing what feels nice for your body - or perhaps just sit quietly.
If the thought of this fills you with fear, build up to it by adding your 'freeform' practice at the end of a shorter online class or sequence. Just pause the video before Savasana and restart it when you’re done if you prefer to be guided. Any time that you take to tune in to truly listen to your body and let it lead the way, rather than your mind, is yoga.
Any time that you take to tune in to truly listen to your body and let it lead the way, rather than your mind, is yoga.
7. Make it fun!
When you’re starting out, practise poses that you enjoy so you’ll have an incentive to roll out your mat. What about practising to your favourite music? (Check out this music from Moby - designed specifically for yoga and meditation).
Alternatively, do yoga with friends. You could decide to do this physically and go round to one another’s houses - or commit to doing an online class at the same time / day each week. This keeps you motivated and you can share your experiences.
8. Don't forget about meditation and Pranayama
A home practice can be a great opportunity to build a meditation and pranayama practice - especially if your studio class doesn’t usually include time for it. Even five minutes of ujjayi breathing incorporated into your asana practice will leave you feeling centered and relaxed. If you think you're not a 'meditation person', this article may change your mind.
9. Stick with it
If you’re one of those people who seeks the "perfect" practice, know that it doesn't exist! In practical terms, try not to spend the time you’ve allocated to yoga procrastinating (i.e. reading hundreds of class descriptions if you’re doing an online class or flicking through sequences in a book). When you do finally decide on a class or sequence, unless there’s a genuine reason to stop practising, try and see it through. It’s the nature of the monkey mind to keep searching for “perfection” but whatever unfolds you will learn something (whether about yoga or yourself) from what you do. Know as well that the biggest lessons are gained from doing what you find challenging - be this physically or mentally.
It’s the nature of the monkey mind to keep searching for “perfection” but whatever unfolds you will learn something - whether about yoga or yourself.
10....but at the same time, cut yourself some slack :)
For all its benefits, practising at home can, of course, sometimes be more challenging than going to a studio. If finding time to squeeze your yoga practice in between work and family commitments causes you more stress than going to an external class, then that's fine too. The key thing is that you just show up on your mat (where it happens to be), open, present, accepting and curious.