My first few weeks doing yoga weren’t exactly a walk in the park.
I started yoga alone in my tiny apartment in the fall of 2014.
I thought that yoga might be an interesting new addition to my routine. Something that would help me stretch my muscles and become more flexible.
It turned out that yoga was a lot more than that. It was death.
My wrists were killing me. My back was sore. I could barely touch my knees, let alone my toes. I had ZERO semblance of balance, even though I was a dancer through my adolescence. I had no strength. Not a single feeble push up in me.
Those were some tough times, my friend.
Even though the start was rocky, I’ve managed to build an incredibly rewarding home yoga practice that makes every day a little bit better.
Today I want to share with you my top tips so that you can start yoga at home and build a kickass home yoga practice.
And feel like an invincible, glorious, goddess-like warrior while doing it.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links for my favorite yoga mat. An affiliate link is marked with an asterisk (*). If you purchase something via a link, I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. You can check out my disclosure policy for more details.
What is yoga?
Yoga is thousands of years old. It’s a practice that combines the physical postures (the asana practice) with spiritual and mental elements. It has a long history and philosophy behind it, but in the modern Western world, the term yoga is mostly associated with the physical asana practice.
And that’s completely okay! For some people, like me, yoga is mostly a physical workout. It makes you sweat, move, and feel better about your body. What’s not to love?
You don’t have to chant. If meditation isn’t your thing, that’s okay too. Yoga itself can be a sweaty, invigorating, moving meditation where you don’t have to think about anything.
But if you want your practice to be deeply spiritual or meditative, that’s awesome too. You do you!
Yoga is what you make of it. There’s no right or wrong.
The beauty of yoga is that you can choose whatever is right for you and it’s nobody else’s fucking business.
What are the benefits of yoga?
A consistent yoga practice can help you…
- feel empowered and confident so you’re ready to kick some ass
- cope with depression, anxiety, PTSD or panic attacks — or deal with grief or loss
- sleep better or battle insomnia, that devious little bitch
- manage your stress levels
- achieve mental clarity and focus
- stay more grounded and present
- feel better about your body
- lose weight and improve your digestion
- lower your blood pressure
- gain strength, flexibility, and balance — both in your body and mind
- manage back pain and improve your posture
- treat chronic pain like migraines or tension headaches
- feel more peaceful no matter how chaotic it gets in your brain at times
- aid you in addiction or eating disorder recovery
- start being active, move your body, and feel good
What kind of yoga should I start with?
The best type of yoga for beginners is Hatha yoga.
Hatha is a pretty generic term, though! Any style of yoga that teaches the physical postures is, technically, Hatha yoga.
Hatha is a gentle, beginner-friendly style where you move from pose to pose with your breath.
It’s a good choice regardless of the reason why you want to start yoga! You will learn all the basic poses and get to enjoy all the benefits that yoga offers.
When you get stronger, you may find that you want something more challenging. After you’ve familiarized yourself with the practice, you should check out Vinyasa or Ashtanga yoga. These are yoga styles that are based in Hatha but offer more of a sweaty workout!
What do I need if I want to start yoga at home?
- A body
- A little bit of space
That’s about it.
You do not need a lot of space to do yoga. Even a tiny dorm room is enough!
Practicing in a very small room might be inconvenient at times but not impossible. The most important thing is that you have a calm, comfortable, and safe space to practice in.
Do I need to invest in a yoga mat?
Nobody’s going to force you to go out and get a yoga mat. You think all the millions of people who have been practicing yoga in India for thousands of years had yoga mats? Exactly.
There are benefits in getting a yoga mat, though! You’ll feel more safe and stable and won’t be slipping around.
If you have an old yoga or fitness mat laying around, perfect! You can definitely use that for the first few times.
When you have a committed, daily yoga practice — or you practice a very sweaty, dynamic style of yoga, it’s worth investing in a good quality yoga mat. A mat that will always have your back, no matter what!
My favorite is the Jade Yoga Travel mat (*affiliate link). I spent waaaay too much money buying cheap PVC mats that fell apart and made me fear practicing because they were so slippery. The Jade mat is my babe. It has an incredible grip and makes me feel safe on my mat! Jade Yoga also plants a tree for every yoga mat that they sell, which makes my heart happy.
What about yoga props?
There are a couple of basic props that can really benefit your practice.
- A yoga strap is basically just a long piece of fabric that you can use for stretching your muscles. It helps you gain more flexibility in some yoga poses. It also helps you modify poses that are challenging. You don’t have to buy an actual yoga strap! Just use a belt from a bathrobe. Or a cardigan. A pair of leggings! You can get pretty creative with it.
- Yoga blocks are bricks that are made of foam, cork, or other materials. Blocks are a fun prop for any core work, and also helpful in balancing poses. You can use blocks when you’re practicing your Chaturangas, support your lower back in the Bridge pose — basically its job is to be your friend and support you in your practice. I got mine for 3 euros per block, so there are some very affordable options out there! If you don’t want to spend the cash, you can always use books or something similar.
What should I wear for yoga?
Clothes that you’re comfortable in.
Leggings or yoga pants will do just fine.
Regular sweat pants get too hot — especially if you’re doing something a little bit more vigorous. They also don’t allow you as much freedom as something that’s specifically designed for exercise and moving your body!
Pro tip for boob-owners: you’re gonna need a sports bra. With a good amount of support. You don’t want to end up constantly shoving your hand down your shirt and adjusting your boobs.
When is the best time to do yoga?
The best time to do yoga is whenever you feel like it.
Whenever you have the time to be kind to your body.
A lot of people like practicing in the morning — in Ashtanga yoga the idea is to practice first thing in the morning six days out of the week — but I for one am stiff as a corpse in the morning.
Not everyone has the time to do yoga, shower and have breakfast before rushing off to school or work. Even less so if you have kids!
So practice at a time that works for you and your lifestyle.
What should I eat before and after yoga?
You can do yoga on an empty stomach.
But practicing with low energy leaves you feeling lethargic and weak. You won’t get the most out of your practice — which is frustrating. We’ve all been there, angry tears and all.
I would recommend that you have a light snack about an hour or two before your practice.
Fruit is always a good option. But you do you!
After yoga, just make sure you drink plenty of water and have a healthy meal or a snack.
You know your body the best. Listen to it.
What if I do it wrong and injure myself?
Some yoga people insist that you have to take yoga classes in a studio.
I don’t necessarily agree with this. But you have to remember that I’m not a yoga teacher. I’m just a girl who loves yoga!
Here’s how you can feel more confident about practicing at home:
1 | Listen to your body (and the teacher!)
There’s none of that no pain, no gain bullshit in yoga.
You know what feels good, what hurts, and what’s uncomfortable. And it’s okay if you feel uncomfortable in some poses. Especially in the beginning. Uncomfortable is cool, actual pain is not. If you’re experiencing any physical pain, stop.
The beautiful thing about yoga is that you can always modify. You can take it down a notch, or you can rest in Child’s pose and breathe for a minute. Yoga is about learning and growth — not competition. Let your body take its time and stop pushing yourself.
Pay also attention to the teacher and let them guide you safely through the practice.
2 | Be nice to your knees.
This is always important, but especially when you’re a beginner.
Keep your knee always above your ankle. Aim for a 90° angle. You want to be able to see your toes in all lunge-y poses. Warriors, lunges, and so on.
Knee injuries are painful, and common. Love your knees!
3 | Use your common sense.
Don’t go upside down, or practice any inversions or arm balances alone. Don’t do anything that hurts your precious body.
If you have zero awareness of your body and are completely lost after your first home yoga practice (that’s okay!) — take a class at a studio. You can have some personal guidance from a yoga teacher and get more confident about practicing at home!
I also believe that having a good quality yoga mat that makes you feel safe is essential for preventing any injuries. I’ve gone through 2 terrifyingly slippery PVC mats so I know what it feels like to slide around in your Downward Dog and feel like you’re doing yoga on ice. Here’s my current (and most favorite!) yoga mat that carries me through all my yoga sessions. (*)
Related: 9 Essential Yoga Tips For Beginners
What are some good beginner yoga videos?
She has a couple of 20-minute videos for beginners:
And also some 40-minute beginner videos:
She also has videos that target specific problems while still being beginner–friendly:
- Yoga For Lower Back Pain
- Yoga For the Winter Blues – Yoga for Depression
- Yoga For a Broken Heart
- Yoga For Weight Loss (This is the first yoga video I ever tried!)
If you feel like you’re ready for a commitment, check out her 30 Days Of Yoga program! It’s all on Youtube and it’s totally free and totally awesome. (Note: The first day of the program is suuuupeeeeeer sloooooow with not much movement. If you’re not into that, just start with the day 2!)
Another great option is Lesley Fightmaster.
Lesley’s Vinyasa yoga classes will kick your butt so badly that you might actually cry. I know I have.
Her voice is super soothing and I like how she films outside quite often. The scenery makes the yoga classes extra calming and relaxing. Even when you’re swimming in a puddle of sweat.
Even though most of her videos are not what I would recommend for a newbie yogi, she has a Yoga For Beginners 30 Day Challenge program which is perfect for beginners. These videos are around 15 minutes each so if you’re really struggling for time, her program is definitely worth checking out. (This challenge is also on Youtube and completely free.)
Are you ready to start yoga at home?
If you’re still wondering about your first step, check out this post from our 4-week series for beginner yogis. You can find 23 Best FREE Yoga Videos For Complete Beginners and get a gentle introduction to yoga!
You don’t need to look like one of the Instagram yoga girls. There’s no need to splurge on expensive yoga clothing, mats, and props right from the start. Start with what you have and what you can afford.
Just set some time aside tonight, put on comfy clothes, get on the mat and give it a try. Try making yoga a part of your daily routine for a week. Pay attention to how you’re feeling.
Are you sleeping better?
Do you feel stronger in your body?
If you still have fears holding you back, let me know.
What is the one thing that’s stopping you from starting yoga?
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