Practicing yoga at home sounds attractive but how do you start? How can you learn yoga on your own and keep up a regular practice? In this guide, we bring you all the answers, so you can start practising yoga in the best possible way.
Why should I do yoga at home?
Choosing to practice yoga at home has many benefits. Once you get started, you won’t want to stop!
Time and space benefits of home yoga practice
Practicing yoga at home means you can choose the time that best suits you. You’re not dependent on a schedule at a yoga studio, and if you’re running late, it doesn’t matter!
You’re also in charge of how often you practice yoga – whether it is two, three or five times a week! And the best part? Doing more yoga sessions doesn’t cost you any extra when you’re using a yoga app or online yoga videos.
Another perk is that you have your own space where you’re not disturbed by others in class. No one will make you jump when they knock over a bottle of water next to you, and you won’t be annoyed by someone accidentally falling asleep and snoring loudly during the final relaxation.
Plus, when you want to make your yoga practice longer, or you want to pause the video or repeat something, you can! This may not seem like a major thing but when you’re a beginner, it’s a big advantage to be able to customize your practice, so you don’t miss anything.
Health benefits of yoga
A regular yoga practice is, quite simply, amazing for your health and wellbeing.
It’s because yoga blends movement with breathing in a way that makes your body fitter and your mind calmer. Of course, yoga provides a physical workout – it makes you stronger, more flexible, it improves how you move, your posture, and balance, too.
But that’s not all there is to yoga. The breathing and mindfulness techniques that are an inherent part of any yoga practice have profound effects on health. For example, a regular yoga practice can lower your blood pressure, help with back pain, make your muscles less sore after training, and reduce your risk of injury.
Even a single yoga session can drive down your stress levels, makes you more focused and better able to deal with challenging situations. Perhaps because of all these effects, yoga is also an effective weight-loss aid.
What should my yoga setup at home look like?
Creating your own yoga space at home doesn’t require anything more than a little bit of room and a couple of props. Of course, you can go all out and make a mini yoga studio for yourself but it can also be super simple.
The most important thing that you need is floor space big enough for a yoga mat, and a little bit of room around it both lengthways and sideways. Ideally, you should be able to stretch out your arms to the sides and not hit anything. But even if your space is tight, you can make it work – be creative!
Props for home yoga practice
So, the first prop to get is – you guessed it – a yoga mat! You need one that allows a good grip (also called a sticky mat) because the last thing you want is your hands sliding away from under you. When it comes to mat thickness, it depends on your knees and back – if there’s no issue, you can choose a thinner mat; if you need more padding, go for a thicker one!
Another prop that’s good to have is a yoga block or two. Nothing fancy, just plain blocks that allow you to reach the floor when you can’t quite get low enough with your hands. They are also useful for putting under your butt when sitting cross-legged or kneeling, and sitting on your heels.
A yoga strap is handy, too, but it’s not a must-have. It can be substituted by a belt or a non-stretchy scarf. A strap can help you get the pose right if your range of motion and/or flexibility is limited. To avoid straining and bending your body out of shape, a strap can bridge the gap between your hands and feet so you can keep the correct alignment.
Your time for yoga
You need privacy and a quiet time for your yoga practice. Ok, you cat or dog are allowed but to focus properly, you should choose a time when you know you won’t be disturbed. If you’re not sure, lock the door, put a sign up or send a message to those you share your home with.
Don’t forget to mute your phone because random notifications popping up are disturbing. Of course, when you’re using an app, your phone will be in front of you but at least you won’t get push notifications with sounds.
How to develop a successful yoga routine?
The key to success is consistency. That means repeating the behaviour that you want to become a habit over and over until it becomes a part of your normal routine.
- The hardest part is making the decision to start something new. Once you’ve made that decision, you’ve actually made a great leap. From then on, it’s all down to practicalities!
- Come up with a realistic plan for one month – for example that you’ll do 15 minutes of yoga, three times a week, for a month. If you can tag the new habit-in-the-making onto something you already do on a regular basis, you’re more likely to stick to it. It could be that you’ll do yoga before breakfast, when you’ve come back from work, or when the kids leave for school. Make a plan and follow it – don’t make exceptions unless something serious happens.
- Make your plan easy to stick to – start small, for example with 10 or 15 minutes of yoga. The key is to make it really difficult for you to fail! Then, when you’ve succeeded, develop that habit – for example, extend it to 20 or 30 minutes of yoga. Be careful not to rush it, only change your plan after one month.
- If you have to skip a practice, do it at a different time instead. Don’t just miss it. However, if you end up always skipping that particular yoga exercise, reconsider your plan at the end of the month and adapt it.
- Develop your habit over time – you don’t need to increase the frequency or the length of your practice (unless you want to). Once you have your yoga routine down, you can progress by making it more challenging. Using a yoga app is great for this as you can just choose a more advanced yoga program or classes.
What are the main types of yoga?
You may have heard of many different styles of yoga but the names don’t always hold a clue to what they mean. Here’s a brief overview to help you navigate in the maze of yoga:
- Hatha yoga – a slower yoga practice where you hold each pose for several breaths. It’s great for beginners, people who like to do things thoroughly and have enough time in each pose.
- Vinyasa yoga – a faster paced yoga practice where you transition from one pose to the next with each breath, occasionally pausing and holding a pose. Most people who want to increase their fitness, alongside working on their mindfulness, choose vinyasa yoga.
- Ashtanga yoga – a specific series of yoga poses, always repeated in the same sequence. Ashtanga is not for beginners as it moves quite fast and you’re expected to know all the poses. Great for people who like routine and have more time.
- Iyengar yoga – named after its founder, B.K.S Iyengar, this yoga practice is all about precision and perfect form in each pose. You work very methodically in Iyengar yoga, using props to achieve the correct alignment. It’s good for people who are recovering from injuries and need to work slowly but you need to go to a studio to learn it properly.
- Hot yoga – yoga practiced at studios heated to about 30-40°C. There’s usually a set sequence of poses – formally also known as Bikram yoga. The high temperature increases your circulation so your muscles and joints move more smoothly but it’s not for those with high blood pressure, diabetes and pressure headaches.
- Yin yoga – a restorative type of yoga where you stay in each pose for at least 30 seconds and up to two minutes. It helps to release both physical and mental tension but if you’re looking for a workout, yin yoga is not that.
- Yoga for athletes – yoga practice following the traditional yoga principles but designed with athletes in mind. Its aim is not to make you a gymnast but to release notoriously tight areas, such as hips, hamstrings and shoulders, increase your mobility, strengthen your core, and boost your mental wellbeing.
How much time do I need to set aside for yoga practice?
There isn’t a template for the perfect yoga practice that would suit everyone. It’s more important that you’re consistent with your yoga routine than whether you dedicate 15, 30 or 60 minutes to it.
If you’re a beginner and just starting yoga at home, it’s best to start small and establish the habit – 15 or 20 minutes three times a week is enough. Then, when you’ve developed your routine, you can increase your yoga sessions to 30-40 minutes or more if time allows.
A substantial study of yoga practitioners revealed that people who dedicate some time to yoga five times a week reap the most benefits with better health, sleep, energy levels, and overall well-being. Yet, five is not the magic number here – the study found that regular practice is more important than anything else when it comes to benefits. That means beginners gain as much from two weekly practices as advanced yogis from doing Yoga almost daily.
How do I measure my progress in yoga?
There are many ways to measure your progress – some are very precise, others are more intuitive. The latter are for example noticing how you feel, your energy levels, how you sleep or how quick you are to snap. You can even keep a yoga journal to be able to track your journey.
Measuring your progress is important because it helps you set achievable goals, keeps up your motivation and makes you feel good about how far you’ve come!
With mobility and flexibility, you’ll be able to notice your progress as you go. For example reaching your toes in forward bends, being able to get lower in half-splits or being able to go deeper in back-bends.
When it comes to strength, there are three simple ways for assessing your progress in yoga:
- Time how long you can hold the plank pose for – yoga improves your core strength and that’s key for the plank.
- Count how many repetitions of a certain sequence you can do – ÿoga improves your functional strength, which means it makes it possible for you to hold and move your body weight in all sorts of ways. For example, a sun salutation might be a challenge the first time you do it but after a month, you’ll breeze through it like it’s nothing!
- Notice that what once felt impossible is now a normal part of your practice – whether it’s a balancing pose or being able to lift your weight up in a push-up. You can even set small goals of holding a difficult pose for one more breath each time.
The Skill Yoga app is one step ahead of the pack when it comes to measuring progress – it has a unique tool called Athlete Assessment. It is made up of three scientific tests that assess your mental well-being, flexibility and core strength. It’s excellent at giving you feedback on your own practice – not comparing you with anyone else, just tracking your own journey.
How do I start doing yoga at home?
When you’re starting out, it’s essential to get the basics right – the poses, breathing, and correct alignment. Without the right foundations, you simply won’t get all the benefits of yoga. But how do you do that on your own?
The answer is to follow a course for beginners – online or using an app. Skill Yoga offers a Beginner program with five 30-minute yoga sessions that you can do at your own pace.
Or, if you’re pressed for time, why not start with a Daily Mobility Break that takes just 10-11 minutes? Starting with shorter practices makes you more likely to succeed at building your yoga at home habit. Being too ambitious, for example aiming at doing five hours of yoga weekly, is setting you up for a very likely failure.
You may be wondering “But how can I teach myself yoga properly?” Let’s face it, some of us are better at following instructions than others. And that’s where Skill Yoga app wins big – it has the Movement Coach, a cutting-edge feature that follows your movement in real time and gives you instant feedback! You learn as you go!
What is the best at home yoga program?
There are many to choose from but it’s best to pick an actual program – a series of yoga sessions – rather than separate, unrelated classes. It’s because you can’t ever fit all the important stuff into one yoga session so by following a program, you’ll gradually go through all the basics. Separate classes might have you work excessively on some body parts, neglecting the rest.
Once you choose your program, there should be another one you can progress to as you move from the beginner level to intermediate. The following programs tick all these boxes!
Skill Yoga Beginner program – covers all the basic skills, including mindfulness, and helps you set the foundations to a successful home yoga practice. It consists of five 30-minute yoga sessions. You can spread them over two weeks and then either do the program again, or progress to the next level.
7-Day Morning challenge – a series of seven 20-minute yoga practices designed for beginners. You can do them all in one week but it’s just as beneficial to practice every other morning so you’ll finish the program in two weeks!
Start your home yoga practice today
The biggest step towards a successful yoga practice is making the decision to start. Once you take that step, make a plan and start practicing, everything will fall into place.
You’ll feel better in yourself, physically and mentally, you’ll have more energy, yet you’ll also sleep better, and you’ll be less stressed. Most likely, you’ll also enjoy the freedom of practicing yoga when it suits you, and at your own pace.
Following a yoga program has the advantage that you don’t have to choose what you want to do and search for the right practice. A well-designed yoga series guides you like a seasoned teacher, so you can make the most of your time on the mat.
And there’s another advantage of using an app to learn yoga at home – when you happen to have more time, you can add another short practice, breathing exercise or mindfulness training on top of your regular one.
Skill Yoga offers the full package – yoga programs for all levels, Movement Coach to help you learn yoga poses correctly, Athlete Assessment to track your progress, skill training, and regular blogs to top-up your knowledge. The best part? There’s a free trial and after that, it’s still one of the cheapest apps on the market!
Start practicing yoga at home today!