I love yoga! Once upon a time I took 4-5 yoga classes a week and loved every minute of it. Then life intervened. The YMCA started canceling classes one at a time until eventually there was only one “yoga” class on the schedule. (Oh, and yoga is in quotation marks for a reason). Then my town got a yoga studio – and I loved it! It was my sanctuary, a place I could go to unwind and focus on my health and wellbeing.
Then, 2014 happened. Work and family obligations took me out of the studio, and now that my life is slowly returning to normal, the studio has closed. Luckily, the Y has added a few more yoga classes, but only one I can actually get to, so recently, I have realized the value of developing an at home yoga practice.
A few things you will need.
A yoga mat
You can practice without one but I would really suggest investing in a yoga mat because the floor is just too slippery for yoga. A yoga mat gives your hands and feet traction so you don’t fall on your head in downward facing dog. Yoga mats range in price from a few dollars to a hundred bucks. If you are just starting out, I would suggest going to a discount store like Marshall’s or TJMaxx where you can often find yoga mats for $10-$15. I practiced yoga on a $12 yoga mat from Marshall’s for five years before upgrading to a more expensive mat.
A yoga strap
A yoga strap is a longer version of those adjustable belts from the 1970’s. The yoga strap is an extension of your arms and allows you to have a better range of motion. If you are just starting out, you may not be able to fold forward and reach your feet. This is where the yoga strap comes in. Once again, keep an eye out at discount stores. If you don’t have a strap, a long belt or fabric jump rope will do the trick. Don’t use one of the stretchy exercise bands – unless you want it to slip off your foot and hit you in the face…..or maybe that just happens to me.
Yoga blocks rock! Like the yoga strap, the yoga blocks work as an extension of the floor. If you can’t reach the ground in a forward fold or if you can get your forehead to the ground in a seated forward fold, you can use the yoga block to bring the floor to you. I actually ordered my yoga blocks online, but you can get them at most big box stores. If yoga blocks aren’t in your budget just yet, you could always improvise with a small stack of books.
You can buy a yoga blanket, but really, any blanket will do. You can sit on the blanket if you find sitting directly on the floor uncomfortable. You can roll it up and place it under your knees when lying on the floor. You can use it under your knees when in kneeling poses – really, the possibilities are endless.
I must admit, this is the one prop I do not have. I desperately want one but they are rather pricey. If you can afford it, go for it! If you are cheap like me, you can use a couple of firm pillows or do without. Or maybe you are crafty and can make one. Eventually, I will add one to my collection but it just isn’t in the stars right now.
A familiarity with the poses
If you have been practicing for a while, you probably already have this but if you are new to the practice, you may be completely lost. You can find yoga DVDs at your public library, find sequences on YouTube, or use a tool like Yoga Journal’s sequence builder. You can also choose from their existing sequences.
Finally, all you need is a sense of adventure and a willingness to look silly trying something new in the privacy of your own home. One of my dearest yoga teachers used to always say “we have the rest of our lives to practice yoga,” so get out there and get started!