How can I do yoga at home? It’s a question that’s popped into the mind of every person who has experienced sticker shock from the price of a studio membership, fought traffic to make it to class on time or had their zen tested in a crowded class.
The benefits of visiting a yoga studio usually outweigh the hassles. You can tap into a community of likeminded yogis, connect with a teacher who helps you grow and soak up a serene atmosphere designed for the mind-body practice. But with studios across the country closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, there’s never been a better time to finally build an at-home yoga practice—one that will complement the classes at your favorite studio once it finally reopens, or replace them altogether.
“An at-home practice can provide you the opportunity to create a more intimate relationship with yourself, but it also requires a lot of discipline. It’s easier to stick with it when you have a teacher watching over you than it is when you can just click the space bar and walk away,” said Adriene Mishler, founder of the Yoga With Adriene YouTube channel, which has more than 7 million subscribers and hundreds of free online yoga classes.
“While it may be harder to show up and commit through savasana or relaxation at the end, the payoff can be really visceral and rewarding. When you practice at home and complete a full session, you are the hero of the story. The hardest part is showing up,” Mishler added.
Here’s what you need to know about how to practice yoga at home.
Where to practice yoga at home
One of the biggest reasons people don’t practice yoga at home is a lack of space. But the reality is that yoga happens from within, and the amount of physical space you need is a lot less than you probably think.
“You don’t need a special designated room or area to practice yoga. Any little area where you can be on a flat surface will do,” said Mishler. “Even small spaces can serve as a nice respite for you to tune into the sound of your breath and move your body.”
Look for an area of your home where you can roll out a mat and have a bit of extra space (a foot or so) surrounding each side. Moving your coffee table into another room might open up some space in front of the couch, or perhaps you can spread out a mat at the foot of your bed. Ideally, the surface would be made of a hard material, like wood or tile, but carpet can work in a pinch.
Wherever you end up carving out space, bring some intention to the area. You could build a small altar and fill it with meaningful items, install moody lighting and hang yoga-themed art on the wall. But these are all extras—not necessities. Simply lighting a candle can make your at-home yoga practice feel more inspired.
Props for your at-home yoga practice
If you’re just getting started with an at-home yoga practice, don’t worry about shelling out big bucks for studio-worthy props. Yoga has been practiced for 3,000 years—long before fancy mats were available.
In fact, you don’t even need a mat, said Mishler, adding that items you already have at home can double as yoga props.
“A hard service with a towel to pad the knees will do. Instead of blocks, you can use books and instead of a strap, you can use a long dishtowel or a neck tie,” she explained. “You can create a full and consistent practice that yields a multitude of benefits without a single thing but your body and your breath.”
With that being said, yoga props can be useful tools that help you feel supported during your flow, stay in poses longer, stretch more deeply and avoid injury. Here are some yoga props you want for your at-home practice:
- Yoga mat
- Yoga blocks
- Yoga strap
For more info on props, check out this guide to the best yoga gear for your at-home practice.
Creating a daily yoga practice at home
That 90-minute power flow class at your favorite hot yoga studio might be an amazing weekly workout. But practicing yoga at home allows you to reap the long-term benefits of a regular practice—and that doesn’t mean you must devote a full hour-and-a-half to your mat every single day.
“It is more beneficial to do a little something daily, or regularly, than a 60-to-90-minute power yoga class every once in a while. So if you want to turn your yoga practice into more of a daily habit, remember that a little can go a long way,” said Mishler.
Carve out some time each day for yoga—and don’t expect it to be the same every single day. A 45-minute vinyasa yoga class on a Monday morning might be just the thing to make you feel invigorated at the start of a week, while you might only have time for 10 minutes of sun salutations on another day. By Sunday, your body might be craving a long, juicy restorative session. Tune in to what your body needs, then give yourself the time and space to practice.
“Show up for a little something every day and watch how your desire to explore your body on the mat can shift and change. I’ve seen many people go from hating yoga to loving it through this commitment of a little something each day versus a full length session,” said Mishler. “Remember that with at-home yoga, you can make it your own, and you can change it up based on how you feel each day.”
Need a boost of motivation to get on your mat every day? Yoga With Adriene has free monthly calendars and playlists to help you stay accountable and turn your practice into something that’s more than just a workout. You can also enhance your home yoga practice by putting on your favorite music, doing some pre- or post-flow meditation, reading some poetry or a spiritual book, burning incense, setting mood lighting or winding down with a cup of chamomile tea. Find ways to incorporate all five senses and turn your at-home yoga practice into a ritual you look forward to every day.
Best online yoga classes to try at home
Online yoga has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years. The sheer volume of streaming classes available means that you can find an option suited to your exact needs and preferences, even as they change over the days, weeks and years. On the other hand, the choices for online yoga classes can be overwhelming. You might spend more time searching for that perfect at-home yoga class than you spend on your mat.
The good news is that you don’t have to shell out big bucks to practice yoga at home—unless, of course, you want to! Here are a few options for streaming yoga classes at home.
Best free yoga classes on YouTube
No matter what style of yoga you’re looking for, Yoga With Adriene has a class for you. New yogis should make a point to check out her Yoga For Beginners and Foundations of Yoga series. She also has specialized at-home yoga classes for specific people, ranging from moms and office workers to equestrians and runners. But the real reason she’s earned more than 7 million subscribers (and counting!) is her refreshing energy, uplifting attitude and encouragement to make the poses and flows your very own.
Best on-demand yoga streaming subscription
Whether you’ve never stepped on a mat before or you’ve already nailed eight-angle pose, Alo Moves has an option in its library of more than 1,600 classes that will deepen your practice. It has a roster of world-class instructors, like Ashley Galvin and Dylan Werner, who offer challenges and inspiration in each yoga class. Alo Moves has also taken care to ensure each video has a high production value, so you don’t have to worry about technical glitches or poor sound quality distracting you during your yoga class. What’s more, the streaming workout service also offers mindfulness classes (like sound baths and meditation) to complement your at-home yoga practice.
Cost: Free 14-day trial, then $20/month or $199/year
Best way to support independent yoga teachers and studios
The strength of your yoga practice is often the result of the support you received from individual teachers along the way. With so many local studios unable to offer in-person classes during the pandemic, many independent yoga teachers have been struggling to make ends meet—and they’ve started offering online classes for their students. Show them some support by signing up for their live classes through Zoom or purchasing their downloadable yoga classes from their personal websites or their studio’s website. Plus, you’ll get to relive some of that yoga studio magic in the comfort of your own home.
Cost: Varies, but many independent studios and yoga teachers have free and low-cost options