How to Do Yoga At Home for Maximum Benefits
The beauty of yoga lies in the fact that all you need is a mat to do it. (Preferably one that looks like a work of art.) This means the location is up for grabs, which is why many are taking advantage of the boom in personalized instruction and foregoing the studio for their living rooms. Indeed, private yoga is the most reserved workout on Handstand, an app that lets you book instructors and trainers wherever you are; meanwhile, Grokker, a fitness streaming service, nearly doubled its yoga viewing hours last year. And it's not just about the ease of rolling out of bed and onto your mat—bringing your practice into your home can be just what you need to be consistent and vary your style to get stronger and to feel truly calm and confident. "Look at home yoga as a way to expand your practice by exploring new methods," says Callie Miller, the chief marketing officer at YogaGlo, a yoga and meditation streaming service. This is how to flow at home.
Choose Your Vibe
It's just you and your mat, so you can tailor your yoga style and pace to exactly what your body or mind needs, says Amanda Fites, a yoga instructor in Nashville who books clients through Thumbtack, an online service that helps you find local fitness experts. There are a multitude of styles at your fingertips through streaming services (unlimited streaming with YogaGlo, for example, would run you $18 a month).
For a flow that burns more calories, go with a brisk pace. If you're looking for a restorative workout, opt for something like hatha yoga, which is slow and simple. (Consult this guide to types of yoga if you're still not sure which to try.) Most streaming services let you search using filters such as pace, intensity, and time. Or if you want a really personalized session, schedule a one-on-one with a pro yogi—booking an hour-long flow on Thumbtack, for example, would run you an average of $65. Simply preselect your practice style, and be sure to tell your instructor if you want to focus on a particularly tight spot or certain poses.
Ask: What's My Conquest
In a group class, the teacher doesn't always have time to methodically break each pose down or to make individual adjustments. Take a moment to create a big-picture yoga bucket list, whether that's acing tricky arm balances (like a split-leg arm balance) or increasing your strength and flexibility, says Jana Bozeman, a yoga teacher in Brighton, Colorado, who uses Thumbtack. Share that with your instructor, or search online resources, including YogaGlo and Gaiam.com, for tutorials that walk you through various poses. "You can progress a lot faster when you have personal instruction," Bozeman says. Remember: This is your time, and unlike in a group class, it's OK to pause and ask questions or watch a quick demo.
Make a Mini Studio
Regularly practicing in the same space in your home can boost your commitment, because when you enter your designated yoga zone, you'll immediately get mentally prepped for action, says instructor Stephanie Snyder, the founder of Love Story Yoga studio in San Francisco. "To begin, try to place yourself near some empty wall space, which is great for inversion practice or just a nice restorative legs-up-the-wall pose at the end of the day," Fites says. If you like a hot practice, turn up your heat. Add candles, a diffuser, essential oils (which have serious health benefits), and even a vase of fresh flowers for a transporting scent: Peppermint can be very energizing, so it's great for the beginning of your practice, while lavender helps you relax when you're winding down. You don't have to overthink it, though: Choose whatever scents make you feel grounded and focused, says Amy Opielowski, the senior manager of quality and innovation at CorePower Yoga.
Forget About Life
Your custom-tailored Zen environment makes it easier to tap into the mental side of yoga that can sometimes get lost in packed classes. "It's an opportunity to get quiet, turn inward, and spend time just being and listening—this is incredibly rejuvenating," Snyder says. Since you're more tuned in, you'll notice which areas of the body need attention, and that's when you have the chance to add your own nuances, says Goldie Graham, a yoga teacher in San Diego. When you're working one-on-one with an instructor, you can communicate what you're feeling and ask questions so they can help you work through poses as well as focus on your breathing and find stillness, Bozeman says. By the time savasana comes around, you'll be so calm, you just might doze off—another perk of posing in your own home.
When you're in the mood for free-flowing yoga rather than structure, let your body move and do what feels right without fear of anyone judging you."You can get such a charge when you move without someone telling you how or what to do," Graham says. If you've never tried to wing it before, you'll find creating mini sequences and repeating each one several times is a great way to build your workout because it involves less choreography but still gets your heart rate up, says Sarah Levey, the cofounder of Y7, a group of studios in New York and Los Angeles known for their freestyle sessions. "The repetition is helpful for the body to get familiar with poses and alignment and build muscle memory," Levey says. She suggests creating four separate sequences each with five or six poses, with the first sequence being a warm-up. And if you don't know where to begin, start by throwing some variations into your sun salutation sequence. Simply put on a playlist with a beat that matches the pace at which you want to flow, Levey says."Remember, there are no rules with yoga when it comes to music," she says. So if hip-hop (or this rockin' vinyasa playlist) helps your groove, cue it up.