Anyone can practice yoga at home.
If you would like to try a home practice, the following article may help get you motivated to start and ultimately help you be more successful in the long run.
Even if you already do yoga at a health club or yoga center, you might consider adding to your current routine with a few sessions a week at home. If you are a beginner, you too can start a home practice.
There are many benefits to a home routine:
- You can set your own schedule
- No travel time
- You can adapt the sessions to areas you would like to focus on
- It’s free
- A more consistent yoga practice provides more physical, mental and spiritual benefits
Before You Start
Depending on your physical limitations or health history, there may be some asana variations or pranayamas (breathing exercises) you should avoid or modify. Before starting you may need to check with your doctor and/or yoga teacher if you have one.
If you’ve never done yoga before, it’s a good idea to find out which style of yoga you’d like to practice. The best way to do this is to have a live teacher until you feel comfortable with the teachings. Take a variety of classes and when you find a style you like, stick with it.
Ultimately there is no one style of yoga that is best – the most important thing is that whatever style you do, you keep doing it.
Swami Sivananda talks about the importance of sticking with one style of yoga and one set of teachings by comparing it with the digging of a well. If you dig deeply in one place, you will get water; if you dig many holes in many places you will have lots of holes but no water:
Do not dig here and there shallow pits for getting water. The pits will dry up soon. Dig a very deep pit in one place. Centralize all your efforts here. You will get good water that can supply you throughout the year. ~ Swami Sivananda
What You Need to Get Started
There are not many things that are needed to start a home yoga practice. Most people start with yoga asanas. The most important items needed for this are:
- Yoga mat – very helpful and definitely more comfortable than the floor; a towel can also be used
- Space – an uncluttered area to fit your body and yoga mat
- Time – this can be as little or as much as you like – set a goal that works for you
Some people also like to have things like yoga blocks or straps. These can be useful for some styles, but they are definitely not required and can sometimes be a hindrance.
Besides these items, other factors that are quite useful for a successful home routine are:
- Regularity – find your time and place, make the commitment, and stick to it
- Willpower – the hardest part is getting going
- Discipline – finishing what you committed to
- Set a minimum – decide what will be your least amount of practice for any given day so that on days when you are not feeling 100% mentally or physically, you have a minimum amount to fall back on. Skipping altogether is a slippery slope that can lead towards quitting
An ounce of practice is worth a ton of theory. ~ Swami Sivananda
As with all things, with practice you can develop proficiency in these areas if you feel you lack them to begin with. Yoga strengthens the mind along with the body.
There are other aspects to yoga besides postures. In the Sivananda tradition of yoga, these are considered equally important, if not more so, than the asanas. They help enhance the mental and spiritual dimensions of your practice, and provide support for, and are supported by, the asanas. They can be done at home on your own schedule.
- Meditation – find a comfortable cushion to sit on and a calm spiritual location
- Pranayama – yogic breathing exercises to purify, calm and control the mind
- Reading – yogic scriptures or philosophical books
- Kirtan – mantra chanting
- Japa – repetition of mantras
Over time any activity can become routine or boring. With yoga there are several things you can do to help keep motivated and bring variety to your practice. Some of these are:
- Stay connected to your yoga community
- Make yoga friends and keep in touch with your yoga teacher
- Keep a spiritual diary
- Visit a yoga ashram
- Go on a yoga retreat or yoga vacation
- Pay attention to your body and mind – some days it can be hard to practice so go easy on yourself. Do your minimum practice and congratulate yourself on sticking with it
- Introduce variety – practice outside, in different rooms, with different uplifting music, with a friend, etc.
- Purchase a CD or DVD of your style of yoga and use it
Swami Vishnu-devananda on his Peace Plane
Often the hardest part of any activity is getting going. The benefits of a yoga practice are far-reaching and numerous. It will improve your physical, mental and spiritual health and change your life for the better.
Now that you know what you need to get started – what are you waiting for?