I read lots of “getting started” yoga articles about a year ago. All of them offered some great advice, but primarily just featured some pretty products and linked to videos that I am sure were wonderful, but expensive. They also all focused on out of the home yoga practices and while I wish (wish wish) I could make that a part of my week, I can’t swing the extra cost. The constant advice for an at-home practice is to set aside a time of day, the same time, every day. In my life… that is just not possible, at all. SO… here is my guide; a how-to for free/low cost, at home practice how-to’s. Bear in mind this comes from a total novice, complete newbie, and yoga fan more than fanatic. My practice is daily, and slow, but consistent, and growing.
Where to get started: I have always loved yoga/stretching, and the classes I’ve taken here and there inspire me when I get home. I would try Sun Salutations and Dolphin poses here and there, but the idea of making up my own flows (routines) was intimidating and felt impossible. But choosing one video to do over and over (ahem, jillianmichaelsyogameltdown, ahem) was boring and felt like it didn’t leave room for growth. This is where finding a YouTube channel served me perfectly. There are approximately a hundred thousand yoga video’s on youtube… and starting down that rabbit trail is overwhelming. I have found my favorite and will link to her page, Yoga With Adriene (duh, no affiliation, but Adriene, if you see this I LOVE YOU). If you are a super beginner with zero experience, start out with her Yoga For Beginners options (click on that and it will take you right there to the playlist), or with her Foundations of Yoga playlist, that will take you through many of the most often used poses, and help get your body aligned just right. If you have a little bit more experience (you’ve done some videos here and there, have a basic level of fitness) then I really encourage you to dive in with one of the 30 day challenges. Her 30 Days of Yoga challenge is really great, and her newer version Yoga Camp is wonderful (I just finished yesterday!). What I especially loved about Yoga Camp was that every day there was a mantra. That initially felt a little… weird, or fake, or just hard to connect with (I generally struggle with quiet or meditation) but the more I went with it, said it out loud, all of that, the more I really loved and felt like it made a difference in my day and practice. I still use a lot of those mantras now with my practice. What I like most about her is she is really not intimidating (no fancy set, just her pretty home. No perfectly tanned/made up/boobs out body, just her body moving well in poses) and she’s also not overly spiritual/’woo woo’ in her practice. I’ve come to appreciate and love people who are, and I can be sometimes too, but I really like that her videos feel accessible and not over the top. Her instructions make sense and are to the point, instead of “now breath with the breath of an eagle” (but what does that mean?!). She’s great. I highly recommend her video’s as a place to start (or keep going!). Once you get your feet under you, and a daily practice ironed into your life, you will have a nice foundation for creating your own flows.
When?!: Start with your goal. How often do you want to practice? I started with three days a week of 20 minute videos. That felt achievable time-wise, but not a super huge commitment. Now I practice some amount (some days just 10 min!) daily. Once you decide how often, then it’s when will it actually happen. This part is hard. At least for us, and our style and daily life, and kiddos… this is so hard. My days are mostly dictated by the weather (is it nice out? We are headed out! beach! mountains!) and kid moods/sleep. If we all slept well, then when Charlie pops in to wake me up early (it’s a daily request of mine, and it works about 20% of the time, haha), I am more than ready to peel myself out from my pile of kids and do an early morning yoga/workout. If Ev was up nursing, and Nolie was chatting to me about her dreams all night (not uncommon… at all), then NOPE I will be sleeping till they wake naturally and fitting yoga/workout in later. Consequently, I can’t “map my week” or set aside a time daily. Instead, here is what works for me. Prioritize. Once we are up and moving, I set my phone down and think about our day. If there is at least an hour before our morning activity (usually starts at 11) then I make it happen early. I put my phone somewhere, plugged in, and leave it alone (I can easily flit away an hour on my phone without thinking, while the girls play after breakfast, and once that happens… then there is ‘no time’ to workout). If the morning is hectic or our plans are coming quick, then I think through the afternoon. And I carve the space out in my head BEFORE we get there. That way when the afternoon comes, and with it all the tired and done feelings, I already have a plan. At that point I set a phone timer. If 3pm is my time. I set that timer to go off 30 min early so I can start mentally preparing (I know, it shouldn’t be so hard! But for me it really is.) and when that timer happens, I plug my phone in (again, away) and get my yoga clothes on. I use that method for workouts and for yoga. I’ve found my yoga practice does feel best in the AM or after the girls are in bed, and that even 15min feels amazing. So often I prioritize my workout first (and set the timer for that) and then just make yoga my before bed/after kid bedtime plan. Usually I spend whatever time I can (while the girls are playing or in class) when we are out of the house, choosing a video or workout. Finding something I am excited about. If you are looking forward to it, you are more likely to do it. Laying out my clothes, choosing a video, telling a friend about it, setting my timer, thinking about a long shower afterwards and how great that will feel. All of those planning techniques really help me get to my mat. It’s also all momentum, the more you do it the more you’ll do it! Really! It works.
Gear: So… this part. You don’t technically need any gear. Yes, a yoga mat is the best place to start (and a cheap one will work just fine! They are also ALWAYS at garage sales too!) and if you can afford to buy one piece of gear, buy a mat. But otherwise, you can fake it till you buy it with almost all yoga props. A blanket works fine or just your bare floor instead of a mat. Books work just fine as block, and a belt or long silk scarf works well as a band, and as for clothes… it’s a dangerous rode to go down. You don’t *need* any special clothes. Soft pajamas, anything stretchy and moveable. But there are also about a bajillion beautiful yoga pants, pretty tops, strappy bra’s and on and on. I love yoga pants that come down over my heels, they feel cozy and perfect for morning and evening yoga. I also like shorts that are tight and high waisted (Prana has some that I am drooling over, but I actually REALLY love the Studio collection from Old Navy and they’re cheap and thick and nice $18 a pair).
That’s it! If you have any questions, or recommendations for other great videos, please leave them in the comments! I am always on the hunt to switch it up.