Updated: Nov 18
As we are all confined to our homes for the time being, no yoga classes to go to, maybe this is a good opportunity to get started with practicing yoga at home! There are so many health benefits of yoga, why let them go when you can’t go to class?
Once you get used to practicing yoga at home you will not want to miss it. It will help you stay connected with the people you used to practice yoga with before, and it helps you maintain a yoga routine. Many yoga teachers (including myself) and yoga studios now offer live online yoga classes via Zoom. Booking onto one of these classes allows you to keep practicing with a teacher you are familiar with. You will also support them so they can continue providing their services, which often include free classes in addition to the paid ones.
How to zoom into Zoom
Zoom is fairly easy to use. All you need is a registration link from your teacher or yoga studio. Your teacher / studio will probably also explain to you how the system works. In addition, you can find tutorials on the Zoom website.
Join the class 5-10 minutes in advance to make sure your equipment works and to check in with your teacher.
If possible, position your device a fair distance way from where your mat is; this should ensure that the teacher can see your whole body (rather than just the upper body or legs) while you are practicing. It is also recommended to position your device at your side (rather than where your feet are), but obviously this depends on the space available to you.
Your teacher will mute the microphones of all participants once the class has started to avoid distracting background noise.
Keep your video on if you want to see your teacher. Switch your video off if you don’t want to be visible (your name will still show). There is an option in Zoom to set a virtual background (looks a bit weird but provides a neutral backdrop).
Wear something comfortable, and be aware that others can see you unless you switch the video off.
Listen to your body! Your teacher might be unable to see in detail what you are doing because participants are only visible in a small window on the screen! The lighting in your room might be poor or your device might be positioned in such a way that you are not fully in the frame. Therefore, if the practice involves anything you feel is not right for you at that moment, please take a break or modify.
Don’t worry if you lag behind or about doing something ‘wrong’. Rather find enjoyment in the movement and the stretches. Do what feels good.
Don’t practice if you feel unwell, have an injury, are recovering from an operation or from Covid-19. Always follow your doctor’s advice about exercising. Remember that you practice at your own risk.
Always drink water after a yoga practice, even if it’s a slow, gentle class.
Schedule time into your diary
Mark out the time for the Zoom class in your diary, with 10 minutes at either end. If you chose a different option, for example a YouTube video or practicing on your own, still block a timeslot in your diary. It works better than the ‘I-do-yoga-when-I-have-half-an-hour-to-spare’ approach. Because there will always be other things demanding your attention. In order to establish a routine, it really helps to block the time in your diary and commit to your yoga practice. One of the main barriers to practising yoga at home I hear is ‘I don’t have enough time in the day’. And yes, it feels like life is busier than ever for some of us. But taking care of our own body and mind surely has to be a top priority for us. If we do not take care, who will?
Practice a little bit each day
It helped me read that Barack Obama started each morning with a workout. If the former president of the United States could find the time, so could I! Even 20 minutes are still a yoga practice and definitely count. It does not always have to be a ‘proper’ yoga session. As with many other things, a little practice each day leads to better results than one big session once a week.
Create your space
Having a dedicated space for your home yoga practice can help get into the swing of things, too. Maybe you have the luxury of converting a spare bedroom into your yoga room. If not, a corner in the living room or bedroom, free of clutter, where you can roll out your mat is all you need. Make sure any props you may want to use are at hand: a yoga block, one or two bricks, a blanket, a belt. A spare wall makes a great prop, too, especially for standing poses and balances. Having said this, props can be replaced by books and poses can be modified. Music, candles or incence can help create a special atmosphere but are by no means essential.
This is the most important caveat of all. Always respect your boundaries and be mindful of the fact that your body feels differently each day. Should there be a painful sensation it is only common sense to stop and back off. If you are pregnant or have any other health issues, ask your doctor for advice on exercising. Be aware of what you need TODAY. Is it something relaxing, energising, stretchy, active, restorative, gentle, powerful? Adapt your home yoga practice accordingly so that you feel good and satisfied afterwards.
Think beyond asana
Remember that there is more to yoga than the practice of poses. On some days you may prefer to simply relax, for example with a yoga nidra technique. On other days, you may like to focus on a breathing technique or you may chose to meditate during your yoga home practice time. Whatever you do, keep a supportive, appreciative and positive attitude towards yourself and your efforts. And:
“Constant practice alone is the secret to success.” (Hatha Yoga Pradipika)