How to get started with yoga at home

Written by Elly McGuinness

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Yoga is a fantastic option to add to your at home fitness plan. As a form of mind-body exercise it can offer a nice balance for your cardio and resistance based workouts. Yoga is one method that can be used to help you get into your parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) nervous system. This means that it can have benefits for stress relief, exercise recovery and mental wellbeing, as well as the more widely understood benefits such as improved flexibility and stability.

Yoga at home (or the park, beach, or other suitable space) can be a very cost effective option to add to your workout plan. Let’s take a look at what you’ll need to know to get started with your first sessions.

Choose an appropriate type of yoga

If you’re just getting started with yoga, you could try a fitness app, online membership, or one of the many free classes available on YouTube. Before you get started it’s useful to know what style might suit you so that you can make your search more specific. Here are a few of the common types of yoga on offer and a very basic explanation of each:

Yin yoga

A great option if you are feeling very stressed or you want to work deep into the muscles. Yin yoga poses are held for a long period of time, often up to five minutes. There is a strong focus on relaxation and getting into the parasympathetic system.

Ashtanga or power yoga

If you want something a lot more energetic that will combine elements of bodyweight strength and endurance with breath-centred movements then try ashtanga yoga or another form of “power” yoga.

Hatha yoga

Hatha is a traditional, general category of yoga that will likely be somewhere in between yin and power classes when it comes to intensity. It encompasses most styles and you’ll cover a range of postures and breathing exercises.

Vinyasa, iyengar and more!

There is certainly a crossover between styles but it just helps to have an idea of what type of yoga you want to try first. A couple of other styles include vinyasa and Iyengar.

Vinyasa is also known as “flow” yoga where the emphasis is on seamlessly moving between postures. It can be a bit “sweatier” than a traditional hatha class. Iyengar yoga places a strong emphasis on posture, alignment and breath. Iyengar yoga often uses props and bolsters to support the body throughout practice.

What you’ll need for a home based yoga session

Really, the number one thing you’ll need for your home based yoga session is you! Secondly, a yoga mat is very useful because it provides a nice surface to move and lie on. It can also help you to avoid slipping and sliding when doing certain postures.

A few other things that might help you get started with home based yoga

  • You don’t need any fancy workout gear. Just make sure you are wearing clothing that doesn’t restrict your movement and that you’re not going to get “caught” on it. Some types of shorts may be too restrictive and baggy t-shirts can get in the way. Now you might realise why many people opt to wear lycra!
  • As with any workout, have some fresh drinking water on hand so that you can stay hydrated throughout your session
  • Decide whether you need guidance to get you started with an appropriate routine. Perhaps you want to try a free session on YouTube, or you’re going to invest in an online program or app to take you through some classes. You can also simply find a blog post about yoga postures to get you started or try a couple of local yoga classes to get some ideas on how to do it yourself at home

Personalise it if needed

  • Remember that online workouts and programs are not personalised. If you have medical or injury concerns or you really just feel like you don’t know what you’re doing, consider finding a home based personal trainer that has some yoga knowledge, or a qualified yoga teacher who can come to your home for a few sessions.
  • A mat is your most basic yoga kit. Other items you may want to consider include yoga blocks, cushions (yes, the cushions from your couch will do fine), yoga straps and a bolster. A rolled up towel could also be used in place of yoga straps. It all really depends on how often you intend to practice and what style of yoga you’re doing as to what you might want to invest in.

A few final tips to get started

If you’ve never done yoga before, it might feel harder than you expect the first few times you try it. For some reason there’s often a perception that yoga is “easy”. First up, leave your ego at the door. Yoga can challenge you both physically and mentally from beginners level right through to advanced. There are always ways to take the intensity and progression levels either up or down a notch, so work at a level that’s appropriate for you.

Plan ahead for a great yoga workout

Finally, plan your yoga session(s) into your weekly fitness plan so that you know it’s more likely to get completed. Do you have a hard resistance or cardio session planned? Perhaps your yoga session would fit in well the day after that, as a form of recovery? Or maybe you want to include a few yoga postures and breathing exercises at the end of each home based workout that you complete?

In any case, have fun with it! Are you doing home based yoga, or are you keen to give it a try? Share your thoughts in the comment box below!

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