Thinking About Starting a Stretching Routine? Here’s What You Need to Know.
Yoga can benefit anyone. Here’s how you can do it in the comfort of your own home.
Are you feeling a little stiff? A little stressed out? A little lethargic?
Have you considered yoga?
Wait, wait! Before you click away, let me first tell you this: yoga is not just about all those skinny young white chicks bending themselves into pretzels like you see on Instagram or other social media.
You can do yoga if you are old. You can do yoga if you are plus size, obese even. You can do yoga if you have a knee or hip replacement. You can do yoga if you have a disability. You can do yoga if the last time you touched your toes you were still wearing cartoon t-shirts and shoes that light up.
YOU can do yoga. You just need to find the right kind of yoga for you.
There are dozens of types of yoga including: hatha, Iyengar, gentle, maternity, curvy or fat yoga, yin, yoga for people in recovery from addictions, yoga for kids, chair yoga, yoga for LGBTQ identities, nidra (where you spend the whole class laying down), yoga for BIPOC communities, and much much more.
I can guarantee you that no matter what your age, fitness level, flexibility or “challenges”, yoga can work for you.
I should know, I’m a yoga teacher. A yoga teacher who is in her 50s, with steel bars in my spine due to scoliosis, a bad knee, and a plus-sized body.
Why should you practice yoga?
Yoga has a host of benefits including:
- Stress relief
- Reversing diabetes
- Improving heart health and reducing high blood pressure
- Avoiding osteoporosis
- Improving balance
- Muscle strengthening
- Easing arthritis symptoms
- Improving insomnia to help you sleep
- Relieve back pain
- Increasing energy
With all of these benefits, you can’t afford to not try yoga. But I get it, with the pandemic you may be hesitant to go to a yoga studio. Or you just may be shy or worried that you’ll make a fool of yourself.
One good thing about 2021 is there are now a plethora of remote yoga options. You can get some good stretching in the comfort of your own home. And you are no longer limited to the yoga studio offerings in your hometown. Thanks to the miracle of zoom and online learning, you can take a class from anywhere in the country — or even the world.
Across the country, most yoga studios are going online or closing altogether. The pandemic has hit these studios hard, particularly since so many of them were already operating on a shoestring. A year ago, no one would have offered you a livestream yoga class, but now you can get them from almost every studio in the country.
If you can’t attend in-studio classes, there’s no reason to keep waiting. You can still get all the benefits of live classes from the comfort and privacy of your home.
You don’t need a mat or special equipment. You just need a little flexibility.
How can you practice yoga at home?
The first thing you need to do is find a class. Do a search for yoga studios in your area and see if they are offering classes that you think will work for you. Pro tip: look for webpages that include people who look like you.
If you see a webpage that is all skinny young people selling you diet plans, keep on scrolling. If you see a webpage that has people who are older, differently abled, larger, and includes diversity, that’s probably a great studio for you. Those will likely be teachers that will tailor their classes to what you need.
Here are seven things that you should consider you will need to take a livestream yoga class from home:
1. A practice space: Most people don’t have an entire room to dedicate to yoga, but before you sign up for a class, figure out the best place in your house to set up. You’ll want to make sure there’s enough space for you to stretch out full length with your hands above your head or out to the side, both when you’re standing or laying down. Also think about the space’s proximity to things that might disturb you, like the front door or the kitchen. You may also want a closing door if your kids or pets will bother you.
2. A laptop or tablet: You can watch class from your phone, but it’s better if you have a larger screen like a laptop or tablet. This will make it easier for you to see what the instructor is doing, especially since they can’t come over to you and assist you like they would do in a live in-person class.
3. A stable internet connection: Nothing interrupts the flow of your practice like freezing wi-fi. And if your internet goes out, it could log you out of the class you’re watching. Set up for your practice somewhere that you generally get a good connection.
4. Comfortable clothes: You don’t have to go to Lululemon or some place to get fancy clothes. To practice yoga, you just need something comfortable to move around in while you stretch. Yoga pants, leggings, shorts or sweatpants with a t-shirt or tank top works great. And skip the socks — yoga is best done with bare feet to help stabilize you during practice.
5. A class that’s right for you: There are a million options for classes. If you have a studio that you’ve visited in the past or a teacher you like, check to see if they have online offerings you can take. Choose the style of yoga you are interested in. If you want a stronger, more athletic class you might look for classes that say “flow”, “vinyasa”, “power” or “level two”. If you want a slower or more accessible class you might look for “curvy”, “gentle”, “accessible”, “yin” or “restorative”.
6. Creative props: If you use props in class — and I hope you do — you might be hesitating to invest a lot of money right now. If you like to use a bolster for some classes, consider using a cushion, a firm foam pillow, or a thick blanket folded up to the shape you want. In place of a yoga strap, you might use a belt, a dog leash, a long scarf or even a length of rope. Need blocks? Try a thick book or a wooden board. Be creative to support your body in accessing the poses in a way that is most comfortable for you.
7. A sense of humor: With you and your instructor practicing from home, you never know when someone’s kid will interrupt looking for a snack, the doorbell will ring, or the dog will bark. I recently saw a hilarious video of a teacher I know whose cat and dog walked right between her and the camera and got into a loud and raucous fight. You might be interrupted, you might use a can of soup for arm lifts, you might lose your balance — it doesn’t matter. Take a deep breath, and just enjoy the experience.
Now that you have everything you need, commit to starting a practice. Start off slowly, drink a lot of water and remember, yoga poses should stretch or strengthen your muscles, but not hurt. If you feel a pain or the pose just doesn’t work for your body, back off and rest instead. Stay after class and ask your teacher for suggestions if you find a pose doesn’t work for you.
Yoga can help be life changing. Try it today! You’ll be glad you did.