Over the past year there is no doubt that more and more yogis are finding themselves unrolling their mat at home. Given the many restrictions and public health regulations, going to an actual in-studio yoga class is both a luxury and a rarity these days and as such, more students are logging on to classes that are live-streamed or recorded. The world of virtual yoga has totally exploded since the COVID-19 pandemic as students and teachers alike seek that sense of community and connection during a time when isolation and loneliness is very real.
There are many positive aspects to having a vast offering of online classes available to enjoy from home. Some of which include the ability to practice at a time that is best suited to your schedule and routine; the option to attend classes and workshops from other studios and teachers that you otherwise would not have the opportunity to experience; you can (re-)connect with people from anywhere; can practice in your pyjamas if you like and the commute is essentially non-existent! Additionally, for many who have been curious about yoga but have had hesitations about attending an in-person class – they can log on and practice from the comfort of home and still reap the benefits of the practice and sense of community. It is actually making yoga much more accessible in a time when it is needed more than ever – AWESOME!
That being said, practicing from home can have its own challenges. There are many more distractions that are typically left behind when entering the studio and as such, students sometimes have to work a little harder to “drop-in” and arrive on the mat. This can certainly be the case in the studio as well, however distractions tend to be more readily available when at home….kiddos, pets (a yoga mat is like a magnet for animals!), laundry, emails, phone calls, supper, floors that need to be cleaned, work…life…! When you unroll your mat either at home or in the studio, that may possibly be the only time all day that is solely for yourself – to unwind, to move, to breathe, to check in, to find stillness and presence.
How can you make the most of your practice with all of life’s distractions to ensure you receive as many benefits as possible during this precious time? In my own practice, I have noticed a few things that work best to help me arrive and settle in:
- If you are able, establish a dedicated space for your practice. Ideally this is somewhere that is inviting, cozy, warm, peaceful and with as little distraction as possible. This will allow for a calming and welcoming energy to set the tone of your practice. I know this is not always available, but it is definitely something to work towards – YOU ARE WORTH IT!
- Silence your phone or if possible, keep it outside of your space for the duration of class to allow for the opportunity to completely unplug. Unless you are on call for work or awaiting important news – the message can definitely wait an hour. As above – YOU ARE WORTH IT!
- Have props readily available during your practice. I suggest having a block or two, a strap and a bolster and/or blanket for extra relaxation goodness. If you do not have a block – books or soup cans can act as a substitute. In place of a strap – a belt, towel or scarf will work just fine. As for a bolster – if you don’t have one, you can roll up a thick blanket or even wrap a blanket around a rolled up yoga mat.
- Pair your device with a speaker if possible as it does a world of good for the sound quality and improves the overall auditory experience. Sound cards in different devices have varying levels of quality and a good speaker can be a game changer!
- Enhance your relaxation with candles or an essential oil diffuser if that is something you enjoy to have during practice. Use lighting that is inviting and warm, or dim the lights if that feels good for you. Setting up your environment truly has an effect on the overall experience of your practice.
For me, if I am practicing yin or restorative yoga, I love to turn the lights off and practice by candlelight. It truly enhances my relaxation and helps me to settle in. Sometimes one or all of my dogs will join me – I think they even enjoy the meditative experience of a good yin and yoga nidra class. If it’s a spicy flow practice, I try to make sure I have enough space to move around freely and avoid looking underneath my couch during downward dog! As the days get warmer and the sun hangs around longer, enjoying a practice outside can be totally magical.
Establishing a home yoga practice definitely has its benefits – pyjama yoga anyone, yoga on the deck? – and with a few simple changes to your space, it can quickly become a dreamy sanctuary of bliss, relaxation and restoration!