A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO STARTING A YOGA PRACTICE AT HOME
Have you tried implementing a yoga practice at your home yet? If not, this is going to be a total win for you as a form of self-care.
You don’t need to have too many things to begin a practice either. Here are the elements you need to start your own yoga practice and be well on your way to feeling less stressed.
First, some background about yoga. Yoga has been around for centuries. If you google the origin of yoga, you can find many articles with varying timelines for when it began. The best consensus is that yoga has been around for somewhere between 4000 to 5000 years!
Check out “A Brief Glance at the Origin of Yoga” for more in depth information on the history. However, it didn’t gain popularity in the West until around the 1950’s. If you are just now considering practicing yoga, you are right on time as yoga is essentially timeless.
Some people have worried that yoga is tied to a particular spiritual practice (like the “secret stairway to Hinduism”). While yoga can be spiritual, it isn’t the secret stairway to Hinduism.
You will be most in touch with yourself while practicing yoga and the spirit within in you. (And, that is obviously open to whatever interpretation you would like to give to it.)
Yoga is more like an exercise program than anything. Although, it doesn’t feel like exercise necessarily – more like something your body needs.
Yoga is more stretching and flexibility training than it is cardio, unless you do the fast or hot versions of it – which is not for beginners.
What You Need to Start a Yoga Practice at Home for Stress Relief
An Open Mind
If you are new to yoga, you may think some of the language the instructors use is a little “woo-woo new agey” or that what you are doing is so gentle it can’t be effective. You are going to want to push through the discomfort of trying something new (which is really what those objections are).
Just keep breathing and doing what they tell you to do. Then, evaluate how you feel when you are done (or after you have done a few of them).
A lot of people wear yoga pants for everything but yoga! You probably already have a pair of what are generally considered yoga pants – stretchy leggings and it doesn’t matter what length they are. Your main concern with your clothing choice is that it not be too constricting as you move through the poses.
Stretchy and comfortable bottoms and tops are the best choice. You are also going to want to be bare feet.
That’s right, you don’t need socks or shoes. They will actually hinder your ability to grip your feet to the mat so you have more stability when doing the poses. The idea is to spread out your toes and gain better balance too by being barefoot. Another nice thing to have is a hair tie if your hair is long enough to get in your face while doing a downward facing dog pose (official name – adho mukha svanasana).
Equipment for Yoga
You will need several things to help you to do the poses correctly. That being said, people have been known to do yoga on the beach with zero equipment other than a beach towel. However, for beginners, having the right equipment to get a good grip (mat), proper stretch (strap), and stability (block) are important.
- Mat – You will want a yoga specific one.
- Block – If you aren’t super flexible, this will help you modify the positions until you are more flexible
- Strap – This helps you to get the proper stretch without hurting yourself
- Bolster (optional) – A bolster can help with a few poses – child’s pose (where you drape the upper half of your body over it) and sitting cross legged. You can also use a towel or blanket though too.
- Bag – In case you want to keep all the items together and handy.
See the resources section below for more information/links for each of the above items.
Yoga Practice Instruction
You can either do yoga in a class setting in person, or you can do it at home. If you can afford to do a class with an instructor who can see you (either in person or on Zoom), this can be helpful because they can walk you through certain poses if you are really unsure of where to begin.
If meeting in person isn’t possible (hello, Covid!), then you can find many classes online, Apps on your phone, You Tube Videos, channels on your TV or old school with books or DVD’s.
My favorite beginner’s yoga program is by Living Yoga. It is called “The All-Day Yoga Workout” and features Rodney Yee, Susan Deason and Patricia Walden. I still use it after doing yoga for more than 10 years because it is easy, fast, and effective. I also like and recommend “Yoga for Beginner’s”. (You can find these in the resources below).
Ability to Listen
You are going to have to really pay attention initially as your instructor walks you through the series of poses fairly quickly. The very first time, you might want to observe more than actually participate, or watch and then try to do the pose.
Once you know what to do, you can listen more than watch and just pay attention to your body. Eventually, you will really get the pose right and you will get the most benefit from the practice.
Your instructor means it when they say “Breathe in (inhale), breathe out (exhale)” during the poses. Your breathing should be in sync with what they are telling you to do.
There is a method to their instruction and breathing right is part of it. If you do it accurately, you should feel a difference in your level of relaxation at the end.
Relaxation Time – AKA – The Corpse Pose
Whatever you do, DO NOT SKIP THE RELAXATION PART AT THE END. This is the most important (and best) part for most of us Moms/Women/Caregivers. This is the time for you to breathe, relax, and let go of any tension you have stored up.
If you do the relaxation pose correctly, and practice, those minutes spent relaxing will make you feel as rested as if you took a long nap – seriously!
Evaluate How You Feel at the End
When you are done, take your time sitting or standing up. A lot of times you will end up in relaxation pose (above).
You will then roll over onto your side and then get up gently. Sometimes you will feel a little out of it (in a good way) or like you just got up from a nap.
When you can, drink a big glass of water. Then, scan your body to see how you feel overall. You should feel more relaxed than you did in the beginning.
Continue to Practice!
The more times you practice yoga, the greater the overall benefit to your body. Assuming you aren’t over doing it and going quickly from one pose to the other or pushing your body past where it can comfortably go. Always remember – if it hurts, don’t do it (as my yoga teacher likes to say).
Resources for starting a Yoga practice
What Are You Waiting For?
You now have everything you need (or have access to resources) to begin a yoga practice. You deserve to feel better in your own body – today and everyday. Enjoy the peace and relaxation a yoga practice can bring to your life.
Hopefully, you will find benefit from doing yoga. I’ve been doing yoga for many years now and I love it. Yoga can calm me down in a very short period of time (20 minutes tops) and generally make me a happier, more peaceful and rested human being.
I highly recommend you add yoga to your arsenal of self-care tools today. Namaste’ – which means – the spirit in me, bows to the spirit in you. Which is just lovely, right?
If you are looking for other ways of practicing self-care, join the FREE self-care challenge here. And, you can also check out these other articles regarding relaxation and self-care:
Enjoy! Leave me a comment below if you decide to try a new yoga practice.