Online yoga has been around for over a decade. Prior to finding classes on the web, we’d pop in a DVD or VHS. Before that you could find several options on stations like PBS. And predating all of that was the self-guided home practice that occurred thousands of years ago.
While we’re not the first people to be doing movement in our own spaces, because we’re in this weird time of disconnect from others, many are struggling to keep their yoga practice going while not inside a studio.
I’ve heard from students that it can be hard to focus when you’re at home. You might live with others, be they two- or four-legged folks. You might get bored because you’re not practicing with fellow yogis. Or maybe you’re lacking the accountability and dedication that came with a studio experience.
Since we can modify our yoga practices to meet us where our bodies are at in that moment, we can modify our living spaces to accommodate our yoga needs. I know, I know. It’s not the same vibe.
One of the keys to showing up at home? Creating a sacred space.
First Things First — Move Your Damn Furniture
You don’t need a lot of space to have a home yoga practice. Push aside the table, move a chair, and set your mat down.
Now sit down on your mat. Open your arms out to the sides to make sure you’re not going to hit anything during class. Next lay down on your back and do the same thing. Taking the time to set up prior to beginning your practice will maintain the fluidity of the class experience once you press play.
Grab Yer Gear
Mat, blankets, and blocks, oh my!
If you like to use props when you’re at the studio, you’re probably going to want to use some at home, too. Don’t have any “official” yoga props? Not a problem.
Instead of yoga blocks, you can use hardbound books, big jars, or even Amazon boxes. I’m sure you have loads of those around these days. If you like to use blankets, you probably have a ton to choose from in varying thickness and textures. A beach towel or two will also work. Pillows can also feel nice under your head or between your legs in a twist as well.
Are you missing the occasional adjustment from your teacher? Maybe you have a mirror nearby that you can check your posture during class. I’m usually not a fan of looking in the mirror while practicing, but sometimes it can be a good learning tool, especially when you don’t have a certified teacher keeping a watchful eye on you.
Don’t like the heat? Have a fan turned on low and pointing away from you so you get the benefits of cooler air circulation without becoming chilled.
This step doesn’t need to be complicated. If you like things for support, grab them ahead of time. If not, then you’re one step closer to bliss.
Save Your Neck
Position your screen with movement in mind. Think about your body mechanics when you’re placing your viewing device near your mat or vice versa.
If you’re going to watch a YouTube video and you have a smart TV, the screen is probably high enough so you won’t be straining your neck to watch what the instructor is doing.
Using a tablet or laptop? That can get a little trickier when taking a class where you’ll be sitting as well as standing. If you can’t have your device in one perfect viewing location for the entire class, determine ahead of time where it will need to be relocated to once you transition to a different position. Books can be helpful here to prop up a tablet if needed. Get creative, and plan this out prior to class starting so you know exactly what to do when you need to move your screen.
Create Some Ambiance
It doesn’t take much to set the mood for a Zen-like experience, but these little touches can have a big impact.
Try lighting some candles, dimming your lights, and closing up the curtains. You can light some incense if you like as well, just be sure put it out prior to class. Nothing like breathing in a lungful of Nag Champa to irritate the respiratory system.
Probably the most important thing you can do to set the tone is to silence your phone. As tempting as it can be to just check on that one email or text, it’s a total vibe killer. Aside from using your device to play music, turn that thing off. You need the down time.
Tune Out The World
It’s easy to get distracted during a home practice. Let’s face it, the world doesn’t stop just because you’ve stepped on your mat.
If you live in a noisy house, try using wireless headphones that are connected to your device. You’ll be able to focus on the audio cues from the teacher and not your family.
White noise machines or a fan can also help to drown out the noise from the rest of the house, as can playing your own music while practicing.
Music = Happiness
Because of copyright laws, most videos are shot without music in the background. But let’s face it, music can really enhance your yoga experience. A good work around is playing your own music from a different device while taking your online class.
I’ll watch a video on my TV or laptop and have Spotify open on my phone (with all other notifications etc. turned off). The key to playing your own music is to listen to a playlist that’s nice and even — meaning you don’t have to mess with it when the pace of the class changes. I like listening to mellow playlists, even in more intense classes, for this reason. I press play and then turn it off after Savasana is over. Check last week’s post for some playlists that can work.
Because we’re sheltering in place, you probably have less alone time than you did even six weeks ago. This can make your chill time more challenging.
When you’re all set up and ready to jump on your mat, tell others in the house that you really super need this time to yourself and to leave you the F alone. It’s just an hour, fer fek’s sake. Give them the whole oxygen mask on the airplane analogy and promise you’ll be respectful of their alone time when they need it.
Kick Out The Fur Babies
As with the rest of the family, the pets need to give you space as well. Don’t feel bad about sending Fido outside for a bit — with water, of course.
Or… be okay with your pets interrupting. Last week I took Cheryl’s Zoom class, and I left my dogs inside with me. They were super chill and even miraculously stayed off of my mat — until Savasana. Then it was like the Hunger Games to see which of them could jump on me and lick me fastest. It was adorable and (apparently) just what I needed for my final relaxation — some giggles and puppy kisses.
Take a moment to ground and settle before you begin. Maybe set an intention. This doesn’t need to be anything fancy, so don’t overthink it. Just take maybe 30 seconds (or longer if you’d like) and send this signal to your mind and body that you’re here for them.
Don’t Skip Savasana. Ever.
A huge peeve of mine (besides when drawers or cupboards are left ajar) is when Savasana is passed over, whether because the teacher didn’t record it or the student decides it’s not important. Some would say Savasana is the most important of all poses. It’s that high up on the yoga food chain.
Allow enough time in your schedule so you can relax on your mat for at least 7 minutes. If your virtual teacher doesn’t give you enough time, feel free to turn off your device just before Savasana so you can rest there for as long as you need. If your room is bright, an eye pillow, towel or even long hair can be used to cover your eyes for a bit. And if you tend to get chilly at that point in class, be sure to have a blanket or jacket nearby so you can be super comfy.
As many of your studio teachers have turned overnight into online instructors, we can only do so much. *You* have to be the one to schedule this time for yourself, then remain dedicated to your practice and not blow it off. Set an alarm to remind you, put it in your planner, whatever you have to do to take this time for you. Your health and well-being are vital, especially right now.