Monday, June 8, 2020

Yoga For Beginners - 5 Steps to Start an At-Home Practice



If you have ever wanted to begin a yoga practice, now may be the best time for you to get started. Amidst this Coronavirus Pandemic people are doing all different sorts of things and branching out to add new hobbies to their repertoire - so why not add yoga to yours? 

Yoga can be done with very little equipment, space, and experience and not only helps your body but can greatly impact your mentality as well. Yoga is one of those physical activities that genuinely change a person because it has a holistic effect on teaching and working with the body and mind. 

Yoga can be curated to do whatever you're looking for. Needing more flexibility? Yoga can help with that. Want to lose weight and tone the body? Yoga can help with that too. Want to deepen your spirituality and explore what may be out there outside of this physical realm? Yoga can get you there also. 

Whatever your goal is, there is a yoga practice that can get you there. Beginning a yoga practice can be a bit challenging as you may not know where to start. So, below I've laid out 5 Steps to get you started on your journey.

5 Steps to Start an At-Home Yoga Practice: 
  • Grab Equipment and Get Comfy
  • Create Your Space - Physically and Emotionally
  • Schedule the Time That Works Best For You
  • Do Yoga! 
  • Incorporate Other Practices Such as Pranayama and Meditation

Grab Equipment and Get Comfy



There is very little equipment needed to do yoga, whether you're in a studio or at home. In fact, there may be even more "equipment" available to you at home than if you are in a studio. At home, you have access to everything in your house which could be used as a potential prop for a yoga practice. 

If you're looking for equipment to add to your practice then check my recent blog post for Essential Yoga Equipment to get started. 

As long as you have an abled body, you can do yoga. Props such as yoga mats, blankets, bolsters, blocks can all help with deepening a yoga practice and help with alignment but don't be discouraged if you do not have these available. They are not a requirement to do yoga and many yoga sequences do not even use them at all. 

If you do have them available, then great! Get to work and play around to see how they can help you in different poses. If you don't have them available, no worries! You can also use different household items such as a chair or wall for balancing, a shoebox can be used in place of yoga blocks, and grab the pillow and blanket from your bed to get super cozy in Savasana!

What is needed for yoga is some super comfy clothing. Nothing crazy here, though, you don't need any fancy workout clothes or top-of-the-line yoga pants to get started. As long as you're able to move in unrestricted ways then you're good to go. Something like Jeans would not make for a very comfortable yoga practice. After all, it is a physical practice so making sure you're comfortable in what you're wearing is key. 

Create Your Yoga Space



There is no set "guideline" to yoga mat sizes, and they do vary greatly but on average they're about 24" wide by 68" in length. As long as you have space to roll out your mat, you have space to do yoga! 

On occasion there are yoga poses that take you off your mat to one side or another so having a bit more space than the size of the mat would be better, but generally speaking, most yoga poses stay within the confines of the yoga mat so if you can roll it out, you're good.

As it's been mentioned time and time again, yoga is not just about the physical body but about the mental and spiritual bodies as well. While it may be easy to create a physical space to do yoga, creating mental and spiritual space can be a bit more tricky. 

I recommend creating a space that inspires you or lightens your mood. You can work to add in some decor that does just that such as photos, plants, figurines, etc. Personally, I love plants in my yoga space as they have natural positive energies that radiate from them. I also love my Himalayan salt lamp and essential oils help to create an atmosphere where I can feel mentally and spiritually present. 

If you're not following a video - Which I'll mention later - then adding some light music to the background of your practice can also really help to create some clear, positive space for you. There are channels on Pandora and even Youtube with yoga music so I say turn that on, keep it on low, add some essential oils and some soft light, and get started on your flow! 

Schedule The Time That Works Best For You

Now, during the Coronavirus Pandemic, you might have a lot of extra time on your hands but I still recommend actually scheduling yoga into your day. For me, I know that every day at 4:30pm I'll do my yoga, pranayama, and meditation which works out perfectly for me as I wrap up the workday and transition to night time at home.

Having it scheduled in your day also helps you to stay on track with keeping up with your yoga practice. You'll develop a routine around the practice, and will not schedule anything during it so it'll keep you guided towards doing it every day.

Also, scheduling it will help you decide what kind of yoga you'll be doing. If you're not aware of it yet, there are many different types of yoga and they all serve different purposes. For a quick look at some of the different styles of yoga and which may be better for you to try, you can click this link HERE.

Yoga in the morning will look and feel different than a sequence done during the middle of the day or later in the evening. Morning yoga may generally have intentions set on starting the day off with positive energy and looking towards the day ahead. It will have some dynamic flows to awaken the body and engage the energies. Whereas evening yoga may generally focus on letting the day go, releasing anything that was pent up or carried with us throughout the day. The sequence may be a little less dynamic and slower-paced to help the body and mind wind down. 

So, as you can see, deciding on where to incorporate your yoga will also help guide you towards what kind of yoga you'll be doing and how it may impact your body and mind. Finally, think about the length of time as well. Some in-studio yoga classes can be as long as 90 minutes. Though I would applaud any attempt to do that full-length class, as a beginner it may be difficult to accomplish and could lead to feelings of disappointment. So, set realistic goals and begin by just doing 10-20 minute classes to start off with.

I mentioned before that I do my yoga at 4:30pm each day. This really works out because I can focus both on letting the day go and any stress I may have had. I also can use it to wind down and transition to my evening. It also comes a few hours after I've eaten lunch so I am doing my yoga and pranayama without any heavy food in my stomach. This is really key to having a great practice also! 

Do Yoga!



You might have been surprised that doing yoga isn't even discussed until the 4th step because there is so much involved in preparing to do yoga that without the prior steps you may not receive the full benefits. 

Now that you're feeling comfortable, you've created a space that feels safe and inviting and you're practicing during an optimal time for you - you can finally begin to practice yoga!

If you're brand new to the practice, or even if you're not, having an instructor to guide you can be incredibly beneficial. They've gone through training to learn how to guide students through different sequences and following an instructor will help you to feel more comfortable getting into and out of poses. 

For beginners, I highly recommend following Yoga With Adriene on Youtube! This is where I began my own yoga journey. She is a wonderful teacher with classes that are anywhere from 10-40 minutes - plus it's completely free! This is a great option for you to get started in learning the practice and the poses and by following her you'll get a sense of what flows together. Click Here to head straight to her YouTube channel.

You can also search out yoga instructors that have teachings online either through Google or you can use the MINDBODY app. The MINDBODY app is great for getting you connected with yoga instructors/studios in your immediate area and payments can be made directly from your phone.

Because of this pandemic crisis, many instructors have resorted to doing classes online. If you know a friend or anyone that is a yoga instructor this is a great way to help them during this time, and it's a win for you also as you get the benefits of having a well structured and seamless sequence to follow. Check with your yoga instructor friends to see where they're teaching online and how payments can be made and how to access their virtual yoga studio classrooms. You can also show your support by liking and sharing their pages. Any help goes a long way, and right now we're in a time where we all could use a little help. 

Incorporate Other Practices



While working to grow a yoga practice, I highly recommend working towards incorporating some Pranayama and Meditation also! 

It is easy to incorporate these because they can either lead or follow your yoga practice. After I finish my yoga asana practice, I add in some pranayama including Kapalabhati and Alternate Nostril Breathing, and end my practice with some meditation. By doing all three of these exercises I am holistically healing and strengthening my body and mind. 

I understand, though, that it can be overwhelming to take on so much at one time so if including pranayama and meditation aren't available to you now, do not worry. You can work to incorporate these later down the line. You can still have a successful and invigorating yoga practice without these two, but working towards including them will add another level of serenity. 

Conclusion

Like any other workout regime, jumping head first can lead to trouble such as lack of interest or worse - injury. Work towards easing into the practice. Do a little research to see what kind of yoga may be best for you as each body is different. 

Evaluate your fitness level to determine how hard you can push yourself and be gentle to your body when it doesn't do what you think it should be able to. Yoga is not a destination, it's a journey. You're not working towards gaining perfect flexibility to bend into a particular pose, you're not working towards gaining a perfect physique; what you're working toward is uplifting your current status of health and wellness. 

I hope you find these steps helpful in beginning your at-home yoga practice! If you did, please leave a comment below on how you're getting started today and be sure to share this post with friends so they can get started also! 

Take care, my friends - Namaste

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