You worked late and missed the last yoga class of the day but you really want to get on your mat. You’re desperate for a gentle and restorative class, but all the classes you can find are advanced. You want to get in some vinyasas but the thought of driving, parking, a $20 class and fighting the crowd make you slump back down on the couch and flip on the TV instead.
If this has been you, Julie Wood of internationally-renowned YogaWorks and MyYogaWorks.com is here to tell you that there IS a solution – an at-home yoga practice! But before you start with the excuses, “I’m not motivated when I practice at home,” “I’m scared I’ll do something wrong,” “I don’t own any yoga props” read on, because you really can do yoga on your own and you might even find it’s even more satisfying than going to the studio! So without further ado, here are Julie’s DIY yoga tips and essential guide to practicing yoga at home.
1: Size Doesn’t Matter.
What I mean is that, contrary to what you may think based on your studio yoga experience, a class doesn’t have to go on for 90 minutes. Ten minutes or thirty minutes of yoga, with focus and attention, can be very effective and make you feel amazing. My advice is when you are new to a yoga self-practice, don’t go for length, but rather go for quality. Start with a shorter practice of 10-30 minutes (or whatever seems realistic for you) and then revel in your success when you complete what you set out to do! You can build from there and add 5 minutes each week, if time allows.
2: Improvise Your Props.
Got some large hardcover books lying around? It doesn’t matter if you’ve actually read them, they work great as “yoga blocks”. Have an old scarf or the belt from a robe? They function perfectly as yoga straps. Your couch pillow can double as a bolster, and a couple of folded towels or a thick throw works as a yoga blanket. Don’t let the lack of “official” props hold you back from practicing. Get creative with what you’ve got and if you find out what props you love, treat yourself by investing in a set that you can use at home.
3: Keep It Simple.
If you’re worried about doing a tricky new pose correctly, save that for when you do have a teacher’s eye on you. When you are beginning a home practice, start with what’s familiar, do the poses you know well, and see if you can use what you’ve heard from teachers in class to both self-correct AND help focus your mind on what you’re doing. You’ll be amazed at what you can remember and what you know. You may also notice that your yoga practice becomes a moving meditation when there is no outside voice to distract you and you are able to focus yourself completely in the moment.
4: Get Some Input.
You may want to consider online yoga classes to help motivate you and guide you through a practice with the teacher’s direct input, especially if you are newer to yoga. Online yoga is more fun and economical than a DVD because you get unlimited access to hundreds of classes for one monthly cost. Consider previewing a few sites (most offer free trials) to see which one is right for you Personally, I recommend MyYogaWorks, but I’m biased.
5: Take Savasana.
Taking time to rest at the end of your practice can surprisingly be one of the hardest parts of doing yoga at home, but don’t skimp! Think of Savasana as your delicious reward after hard work. Not only does it feel amazing and allow all the benefits of your practice to sink in, but when you practice at home you can stay for as long as your body and mind needs. If you’re feeling sleepy after your practice and want to doze off for a few minutes post-savasana, you can do just that! Who said an at-home practice can’t be as satisfying as a studio practice?
As you can see, it doesn’t take much to have an at-home yoga practice, but once you start you’ll see just how great it can be.
About Julie Wood
Julie Kleinman Wood began practicing yoga 25 years ago at the Jivamukti yoga center in New York and she has been part of the YogaWorks family for the last 20 years in several different capacities including student, teacher trainee, greeter, teacher trainer, cultural ambassador, and manager. On the teaching front, Julie has taught all levels of students from brand new beginners to aspiring teachers. She expanded her role to the business side of YogaWorks in 2005, first by helping to integrate YogaWorks New York studio acquisitions and then by joining the Teacher Training department, ultimately overseeing YogaWorks renowned Teacher Training Program. She is now the General Manager of MyYogaWorks, which offers over 500 YogaWorks classes online. Julie is a wife and busy mom to a 3-year old and step-mom to a 14-year old. In her former free time, she loved to write songs, play bass guitar and surf. Now she has no free time.