If you are interested in practising Yoga at home, you might be wondering what you need to do to be able to do it.
There is a vast and sometimes baffling array of products you can buy that you might think you need to be able to practice yoga. The truth is, there is very little you actually need for yoga, although there is much that you can bring into your space to enhance the experience.
In this post, I will guide you through the things you will probably need to make sure you have, and some things that are ‘nice to have’s.
A yoga mat is not strictly speaking essential, but to minimise the risk of slipping, sliding and hurting yourself, it is certainly very useful. I have practised without a mat before, and I found it really quite challenging.
A Yoga mat is thin and offers a good amount of grip. The thick mats that get marketed as ‘exercise mats’ are not really suitable, they tend to be too thick to enable ease in balance, and they roll up and make a lot of distracting noise. A Yoga mat is about 1/8-inch-thick, although you can get some that are ¼ inch. This might be helpful if you find being on all fours on a thinner mat uncomfortable on your knees.
If you are planning to dedicate yourself to your Yoga practice, I advise investing in a good quality mat. Cheap mats are available, but tend not to offer sufficient grip, and don’t last long with regular practice.
Access to the teacher you are following
If you are practising using videos, make sure that you position your laptop or device somewhere you can easily see and hear the teacher. If you need to move your head too much to see, you risk injury in some postures, and lose the integrity of some postures. The best position is in front of you so that you are mimicking the real class experience as much as possible. Make sure that you turn off any notification so that you aren’t distracted by email and social media interruptions.
Space (but not as much as you might think)
It is, of course, vital that you have sufficient room to practice. I am very fortunate that I have a front room that my family doesn’t really need, so I have been able to turn that into my ‘Yoga room’. You don’t need to dedicate a whole room, or even any devoted space to your practice. If you can put your mat down and have a little room either side to be able to stretch your arms out to the side, then you have enough room. If that space can be clutter free, then so much the better, but if space is limited in your home, please don’t let this stop you practicing yoga. Create whatever space you can for your practice, the practice is ultimately more important than the space.
An estimated 75% of Americans, and 89% of Brits don’t drink enough water. The human body, like all other living creatures, requires water to function well. Dehydration can lead to serious health complications. This is a worrying statistic.
When you practice Yoga, and deepen your breath, you release more water vapour through your exhalation. Also, as the postures release toxins in the body, you need water to help to flush these out of the body.
Additionally, in Yogic terms, water is important because we get some Prana (life force energy) from water. In order to get this, the water must be sipped slowly, not gulped down. Drinking small amounts of water through out the class helps the body to stay hydrated and allows this absorption of Prana. Have a small bottle or glass of water nearby during your session, and make sure you drink frequently. If you join Beginners Yoga Club and take classes with me, I will advise you when to take a drink of water.
At the end of the session, you should always spend time in relaxation. Shava Asana, the relaxation posture, is possibly the most important posture in your whole Yoga class and should never be skipped. When you spend time in relaxation, your body temperature drops, and your skin and muscles will start to get cold, which will create tension and discomfort. Keeping the blanket over your body prevents this and makes the relaxation more comfortable and comforting. If you don’t have a blanket that is suitable, you can put on socks, and a jumper (sweater) and cover yourself with a large, dry towel.
Yoga involves lots of stretching and bending. It is important that you can do this comfortably. Ensure that the clothes you are wearing have a loose waistband and allow you to bend, stretch, lie on your front and back, and move your legs in all possible directions. You don’t need to buy ‘yoga pants’ or any specific ‘Yoga clothes’, but you do need to be comfortable.
Nice to have’s
A regular time you can practice
Granted, the reason you need to practice at home rather than go to a class might be that you are not able to commit to regular class times, this is a ‘nice to have’ rather than an ‘essential’. However, it is important that you do make a clear commitment to your practice if you want to get the full benefits that Yoga can give you. While one Yoga session does give enormous benefits in the short term, it is only with consistent and regular (as regular as possible) practice that you really reap the rewards.
Look at your life and see where you can carve out some space on a regular basis to dedicate to your practice. If you work shifts and never have the same days off, you could decide that you will practice on your days off, whenever that is. If you have children, you might need to fit in in around nap, school, bed time etc. You will always be grateful that you did make the time to practice, so be sure to give yourself this gift.
If you are lucky enough to be able to allocate time when your husband, kids, dog, colleagues will leave you in peace, then hooray! Many people struggle to find this time. If your family are the distractions, why not involve them, and practice with the kids or husband?
The burning of incense is a ritual practice that represents the sending of prayers and offerings to the God or Gods you are worshipping. As Yoga is a ‘spiritual but not religious’ practice, it might seem out of place to burn incense, yet incense is a common partner with Yoga. At it’s most basic, the lighting of incense before your practice can act as a sensory marker to the brain, to say ‘it’s Yoga time’ now.
Additionally, if you can connect to the idea of Yoga as a spiritual practice, then your practice is, to some extent, an offering to your Spiritual Self, to the Divine however you choose to interpret it, and so the traditional purpose of Yoga very much holds forth.
As you light your incense and begin your practice, you could set an intention for your practice, for example, to stay focused and present in your practice, and allow the smoke from the incense to carry that incense with it.