There comes a time in every yogi’s life when it’s time to practice yoga at home.
The calling is clear: group yoga classes start to feel unsatisfying, impersonal, static, or simply too easy. Practicing at home may be the best way to rev things up.
But depending on how long you’ve been practicing yoga and your level of confidence, this might be easier said than done. Newer yogis and even those who have practiced in studios for years are commonly too intimidated to take yoga home. They might be unsure how to sequence, which poses are best for their body, or if their alignment is correct.
Here are a few tips to overcome these fears and bring your yoga practice home.
1. Practice with yoga videos
Following a yoga video lies somewhere in between practicing in a studio and practicing completely solo at home. You have the benefit of a teacher and a thoughtfully planned sequence with the flexibility to choose your teacher, the kind of class your body needs, and the ability to pause and skip where needed.
Try Zenward.com to get access to an ever-growing library of yoga classes in the comfort of your own home. Be experimental in your video watching. Try lots of different teachers and new styles of yoga. Pay attention to sequencing patterns, such as which poses typically follow shoulder stand, and how forward bends are paired with backbends.
2. Stick to sun salutations
If you’re totally unsure how to sequence a yoga session, create a super basic practice by focusing on sun salutations. Once you learn Surya Namaskar A, Surya Namaskar B, and the classical hatha Surya Namaskar, you have enough knowledge to build mini yoga sessions.
You might practice 3 rounds of Surya Namaskar A followed by 3 rounds of Surya Namaskar B and then a nice long rest in savasana. Or practice 6 rounds of the classical hatha sun salutation followed by one backbend like cobra, camel or bow; then one forward bend like seated forward bend, standing forward bend, or child’s pose; and one twist like half lord of the fishes or reclining spinal twist. Always finish with savasana and you’ve made yourself a safe, simple yoga sequence.
3. Schedule a few private sessions with your favorite yoga teacher
Private sessions teach you which poses will most benefit your body at this point in time. You’ll learn how to challenge yourself while honoring the shape and physical state of your body. You’ll discover where you can improve in your practice, too.
Even if ongoing private sessions aren’t financially sustainable, even just a couple will open your eyes to creating a more fruitful home practice.
4. Hit the books
Yoga isn’t meant to be learned from books, but they’re very useful when you’re bringing your practice from the studio to home.
Yoga books written by spiritual masters can motivate you when you’re feeling lost or unmotivated. Books on asana will help you to understand how yoga stimulates the organs and glands, how each pose affects the chakras, and where to focus your awareness for spiritual purposes. Yoga books also fill in the gaps that studio yoga classes leave, such as the philosophy and lifestyle of classical yoga.
These yoga books are a good place to start:
- Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha by Swami Satyananda Saraswati (from the Bihar School of Yoga)
- Yoga: The Greater Tradition by David Frawley
- Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar
- Moving Toward Balance: 8 Weeks of Yoga with Rodney Yee by Rodney Yee
- Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Swami Muktibodhananda
5. Save the asanas for the studio and take your meditation home
Beginners especially may feel like a home practice is far out of reach. If this is the case, save the asanas for the studio and take your meditation home. It’s difficult (and nearly impossible for most) to enter a truly meditative state in a group yoga setting. The meditation segment is usually too short to go very deep. But at home, you can take all the time you need.
Meditation is very much a part of yoga. In fact, the goal of asana is to train the mind to focus in preparation for meditation itself. Your asana practice may only take place in a studio setting, but spending some time going inward each day is very much a way to practice “yoga” at home.
If a home practice is what you’ve been needing, gradually interspersing your studio classes with yoga videos, sun salutation sessions, private yoga lessons, yoga books, or a home meditation practice will help link what you learn in the studio and how you develop your practice on your own. Any of these practices will help you to take your yoga deeper.