How To Set Up A Home Yoga Practice – And Why It's Important
These days it seems yoga has become synonymous with a lifestyle that requires money to spend on classes, special equipment fancy attire, and yes, even exclusive food. The truth is yoga does not have to be – and was never meant to be – a capitalistic endeavor. Yoga's purpose is to help you discover what's beneath the pricey pants and the sassy sports bras. To realize the deep truths that lie within. To harness the power to achieve your purpose. Nowhere in the Yoga Sutras, yoga's preeminent text, does its author, Patanjali talk about needing lululemon pants or special mala beads to achieve enlightenment. In fact, out of 196 sutras or verses, only three talk about asana or the physical aspect of yoga. So for those of you struggling with the 'workout' part of yoga, that isn't even a requirement!
My most profound practices have happened not in a classroom, but at home. Yoga truly is a personal practice. And while it's true that you don't need anything at all to reap the benefits of this ancient methodology, a few things can help motivate you to establish a consistent and more comfortable practice.
First, and probably most important, is creating a space for your practice. It doesn't need to be large, but a quiet space where you can practice without disruption or distraction is ideal. It can be in the bedroom, the living room, outdoors, the garage – wherever! (I've even practiced in a closet before!) I leave my mat out so it beckons me every morning. I understand we all have limitations, but there's something to be said for cultivating energy in a particular space, as it will draw you into your practice and help you develop a daily ritual.
Second, while people seemed to practice yoga just fine without mats for hundreds of years, a good quality mat is nice to have for cushion and grip, especially if you're just getting started. When it comes to mats, you usually do get what you pay for. I can highly recommend Manduka mats while I know others who really like Jade. Personal preference is key when choosing a mat. Some like more 'stick' and others, less. Cheaper mats do tend to disintegrate and tear rather quickly. My Manduka mat has lasted me over 10 years and I use it daily. With some TLC, your mat should last and it is an investment worth making.
One of my favorite styles of yoga is restorative and yin. They are wonderful counterparts to the oft more touted power and vinyasa practices. However they do require some props. Blocks are an excellent way to support a new practice as they can make some more challenging postures accessible. You can also use blocks for a variety of strengthening and fitness exercises. Straps are an excellent way to enhance certain postures, and again, make others a bit more manageable. A bolster can support the low back in reclined positions and double as a seat for meditation. You do not have to buy a special one, but a blanket is a wonderful tool to have on hand to cover up as in some of the more relaxing practices in yoga, the body temperature will drop. It can also serve as a support for the head and neck when folded or rolled up or as a prop for some dynamic movements. None of these props have to be fancy and most can be found for reasonable prices on Amazon.
As far as attire, hear this: Fancy outfits do not make you a better yogi! If you must know, I often practice in a tee-shirt I've worn to sleep in and boyshorts or old sweatpants. I roll out of bed, do some prepatory daily rituals and roll onto my mat. Comfort is key. You want to be able to move in a variety of directions without feeling constricted.
For the cost of a handful of studio classes you'll have everything you need to cultivate your practice at home. Sure, group classes are nice to establish community and learn, but ultimately yoga is a very personal practice. No teacher can tailor a class just for you when they need to teach to a variety of needs in a group setting. Not to mention there are a number of online yoga sites that offer teachings and classes from some of the world's top notch teachers, most of which cost less for a monthly membership than a single class at a studio! I'm partial to YogaGlo, but there are plenty to choose from. (Including mine on my website or YouTube! )
Remember, yoga is a practice designed to uncover what is uniquely you – the truth of who YOU are. Not a model in some twisty bendy looking pose on Instagram. Focus on the inner transformation and you'll reap the benefits of your daily commitment to yoga.