As most of us are locked down at home to a greater or lesser degree, many are keeping up their workout routines by exercising at home. Even if you don’t own any equipment like dumbbells or squat racks, there are endless varieties of exercises available that use only your bodyweight.
I myself do mostly bodyweight exercises at home, at a high intensity. Mainly because my son absolutely loves doing it with me. And let me tell you, I am jealous of all the energy a 9 year old has! However, I have also started focusing more on my flexibility. I have started doing yin yoga every day. For about an hour, I hold stretches for 5 minutes each. I have written previously about the importance of flexibility, and it’s one of those areas I neglect when I work out at the gym.
I am using this time at home to focus on flexibility and stretching by doing yin yoga. I really enjoy it because I like the meditative aspect of it as well. The focus on breath and body movement helps with clearing your mind and being mindful of the present moment.
Keeping up a regular home workout schedule is a challenge, but it is also a chance to focus on body awareness and sensitivity. Personally I have found more tight areas than I like to have (such as my hips and my shoulders) and also some imbalances that I need to address. Practicing yoga at home independently certainly has helped.
Here are some tips on how to create a space at home to practice yoga and spend some time on the mat daily.
1 Make time
“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour.” Old Zen saying.
The saying may be in relation to meditation, but the principle holds true to yoga as well. It definitely helps to have a regular time of day set aside for yoga practice. The great thing about yoga is that it can be done any time. It’s definitely better to do it after weight training when it comes to stretching, but what I love is that it is great to do in the evening, even before going to bed. It helps calm the mind and prepare for sleep. I personally can’t do it after a meal as the twisting and bending on a full stomach makes me feel sick, but that is up to you. A lot of people enjoy doing yoga first thing in the morning when they get up or during their lunch break.
2 Listen to your body
What I also love about yoga is that it is about listening to your body. It’s not about doing a hardcore yoga flow every day. Your session on the mat is different every day depending on how you feel – your muscles, your energy, your stress level, eating and sleeping habits. One day may be great for an intense yoga flow, on other days your body requires restorative yoga. When I do my yoga stretches for flexibility, on some days I hold the positions longer – on some days I don’t do certain stretches and replace them with child’s pose. Your session at home is yours alone, that’s the beauty of it.
3 Create a retreat
The most challenging part in the current situation is to create a space that is free of distractions. No tv, no devices, no mess, no noise and interruptions. For many, the bedroom may be a good option. All you need is your mat and some space on the floor. Remove things that could distract you, like dirty laundry or kids toys. If you can make it a permanent spot, even better. You could set it up with some candles or plants, a pillow, towel, yoga blocks and straps. I always tell my children when I do yoga so they know not to interrupt me (unless absolutely necessary of course!).
4 Practical tips for yoga at home
Although you don’t really need anything to do yoga, a mat is a really good investment. I, for example, am a really sweaty person and if it wasn’t for my non-slip yoga mat, I would be sliding around. Mats are available in many materials and designs. Some are thicker, some thin, some have sticky surfaces (like mine), others are smoother. Find the one that is most comfortable for you.
If possible, have your mat on a flat even surface and not on carpet. It’s easier for balance and better for joints because of even weight distribution.
Yoga blocks and straps are very helpful. If you don’t have any and don’t want to buy any (they don’t cost much), a couple of thick books and a resistance band, towel or belt will do.
It’s also great to have a flat pillow, towel or blanket nearby. For me, placing my knees on a flat pillow helps greatly to hold poses for longer (the lunge for example).
As with any exercise you do, when you start out, focus on form – quality over quantity. There is no instructor at home – so you have to correct yourself. Practice body awareness and focus on your alignment. Start with easy poses that you like to do and then slowly add over time.
Regular yoga practice at home is not only great for strength and flexibility. It’s a chance to check in with your body and put focus inward. It is a great way to calm a busy mind and shift it into the present moment. Whether you have 10 minutes or 2 hours – it’s always worth it.
Please let me know if you practice yoga at home and how it makes you feel.
http://www.gaiam.com for starting a yoga practice at home
https://www.self.com/story/best-youtube-yoga-channels for advice on youtube yoga channels
Idea, Health and Fitness Association, Jan 16, 2019