So you want to be a yogi and do all those cool flows you see on Instagram? I was there too. I’m still there. Every time I see an insane inversion I get a pang of envy. But then I let it pass because I remember how far I’ve come since my own beginning.
Here are a few tips I’ve gained and resources I use to start (again and again) and sustain an at-home yoga practice for the past four years. So much has changed, but consistently stepping on my mat has not.
Before you keep reading, I am assuming you have physical space to do yoga that allows for a semi-calm environment. I know a lot of people don’t have that. If cultivating an at-home yoga practice is important to you but you have limited space, begin creatively thinking of ways you can create a small, quiet, out of the way space in your home for yoga. Maybe it’s just enough to roll out your mat for 30 minutes a day. That’s a great place to start.
Finally, these tips are widely applicable, so use them as a lens to think about other goals or interests you want to pursue.
Tip #1: Start small and have a purpose.
I initially started at home yoga because I lived in France and had a lot of free time (Au pair life). I was jogging as my free form of exercise, and I needed something to help with my hip and leg tightness from those long runs.
I remember when a 20 minute yoga flow felt like forever.
I had done yoga before, but I was never inspired to make it a practice or see it as something more than a workout. The positive impacts became tangible when the more yoga I did, the less sore and tight I was after a long run. I started yoga for the stretch and eventually it blossomed into more.
My point being, I recommend starting yoga in much smaller amounts than you think and you should begin with a clear intention for that practice.
If you’re a total beginner, like I was at one point, 15-30 minute flows should be your goal, about 2-3 times per week. For each class or video you choose to attend, have an intention attached to it. For example,
- I want to feel stronger in my upper body.
- I want to try something new in my exercise routine.
- I want to ease the lower back pain I get from working on the computer.
- I want to feel relaxed after my workday.
- I want to be able to touch my toes.
- I want to workout.
Shorter sessions will be easier to complete. You’ll feel accomplished that you’re working toward a goal, this will motivate you to continue.
I think a common occurrence is people will pay to go to a full 60 or 90 minute yoga class that they don’t have the stamina or strength to handle, and they burn out quickly. We naturally push ourselves really hard. We compare ourselves to people in the room. And we forget to stop and consider why we’re attending a yoga class in the first place. What can happen is we don’t feel as awesome as we thought we would or motivated to keep it up.
Just remember: start small (maybe alone) and with a purpose. Every time you step on your mat is an accomplishment. Approach every session with a positive intention. (For me, a lot of the time, it will be “listen to my body.”)
Always keep in mind that you’re forever learning and growing.
Tip #2: Pick an online program to follow.
I cannot recommend this enough. There are so many at the start of the year or a random month as an Instagram challenge. Just pick one and see how far you get!
The benefits of choosing a program are huge. You may feel the sense of community, completing it with like minded people or with a teacher you really respect. The farther along you get, the more committed you become.
I appreciate the planning aspect too. The fact that a 30-day program is completely outlined is comforting and relieves stress. Usually the teacher has planned out weekly reflections, or time to take progress photos, which are great additions. I like looking ahead and seeing what the next few days will look like and if I can realistically get to it. I can visualize my days ahead better, making them easier to complete. I prefer 30 day YouTube yoga challenges that have already finished for this main reason.
When you’re a beginner, having a consistent teacher is really helpful and supportive to your practice. They can help you get familiar with typical poses and flows. You will get to know their cues and I think it helps with confidence as you find familiarity in your body, an ever-changing experience.
I’ve done a lot of online yoga programs, but my all time favorites are the several programs offered on Yoga by Candace. She has a great yoga channel on YouTube with a wide range of videos she uses to carefully craft a suggested yoga schedule for any type of yoga/fitness goal. She gives a lot of options and your practice can be as short and long as you want that day. You can go hard or take it easy.
I personally really enjoyed:
If you check these out and they don’t resonate with you, just hop on youtube and type in “30 days yoga” and you’ll get so many options. Pick one and flow.
Remember that the joy of yoga comes from the self discovery it organically pushes you to explore. The moment you realize you actually have the strength and balance to stand on one leg when last week you fell out of it is a transformative moment.
As your practice becomes consistent, these moments will just keep on coming.
Tip #3: Try NEW flows, NEW classes and NEW teachers.
After you feel stable and solid in a regular practice, or even before that, be sure to challenge yourself with new classes and teachers.
It’s really easy to plateau in your practice if you never switch it up.
This definitely happened to me. Although it can feel uncomfortable and annoying to hear poses described and paced out in different ways than you’re used to, it’s worth exploring because this is where your practice will exponentially grow, as well as familiarity with your body and what feels best.
If you have a favorite teacher and class at a local studio, that’s something to stick to. But, don’t stay stuck on only one yoga channel or fail to check out different studios. There is so much yoga out there to be explored and your favorite teachers aren’t going anywhere.
I’ve saved my personal favorite yoga flows over time, check them out if you’re interested. Two of my favorite channels on YouTube are:
- Five Parks Yoga with Erin Sampson (I think she’s one of the best teachers ever.)
- Alo Yoga (Huge variety of classes with many different yoga teachers.)
Be patient. Stay positive. Keep persisting. You’ll get there.
I hope these tips motivate and guide you toward a balanced yoga practice.
XO + OM