Chelsea Outlaw is a young adult librarian by trade, but likes to think of herself as an information gather, world wandered, word-drinker, and lover of all things caffeinated. She writes almost-daily at An Outlaw Life, talking about everything from the books she reads to the trails she runs to the yoga poses she loves (and hates!) the most. When she’s not hanging out on the blogosphere or navigating her way around Buzzfeed articles, she loves to hang with her hubby Mark, their four-year-old Cocker Spaniel Penny, and the fresh air! check out her blog here
Yoga is awesome.
Did you catch that? YOGA IS AWESOME.
I feel like I should make that overwhelmingly and abundantly clear before we get any further in to this post, because if there is one thing that I could shout from the rooftops until the cows came home, it would be that yoga is a truly transformative process that is freakin’ awesome.
I’m not a yoga teacher. I’m not a yoga guru, lifestyle coach, or really even all that “good” of a yoga student, since I don’t go to studio and certainly don’t practice every day (although I’m working on changing up that last bit). What I am is a 25-year-old lady who took years to lose 80 pounds through a hearty combination of time, diet, and exercise, and who in that process developed a whole host of knee pain, back injuries, and other bummers that can be associated with an active but not-always-safety-conscious fitness regime. Which is why, after taking years to find my groove, my ‘thing’, the way to move my body that brought me the most joy, I’m settled on yoga.
This post isn’t meant to be a yoga primer for those of you who are 100% new on the subject – but, if you’ve vinyasa-ed your way through a down dog or two, and you find that your pocket books are running a bit dry, this is the article for you!
I’m a Kansas girl, and being a Midwesterner means that I don’t have available to me the wide variety of options that some of my luckier and lovelier East and West coast friends have when it comes to things like yoga studios. Within an acceptable (read :: 20 minutes or less) driving distance of my house there are only three yoga studios, one of which is hot yoga (NO THANKS, I ALREADY SWEAT LIKE A BEAST) and one of which just doesn’t jive with my current work schedule. Which leaves me with one beautiful studio – if I also had the $200/month for unlimited classes. Which I don’t.
Please don’t get me wrong, this isn’t at all about having to pay for classes. If I could, I would, and I would encourage everyone to do the same, especially if you’re just starting out. So much of the wonder of yoga, kind of like church, comes from the community that surrounds you while you’re in the practice. Plus, if you’re just getting in to yoga postures, having a professional on hand who can answer questions and/or physically show and guide you in to the proper alignment is huge. HUGE, HUGE, HUGE, so please give this some serious thought.
If, like me, it’s just not in your fiscal (or geographical or chronological) cards to head to a studio on a regular basis, here’s a run-down of the ways I’ve found to still get in a solidly awesome practice at home.
1.) Understand that your home practice will still be in your home.
For me, this means a couple of things. First and foremost, it means that, as a home practitioner, you’ve got to be more on top of the ball in terms of the lead-up to your actual practice. We don’t have the luxury of walking in to a fully-prepped room, the lights low and music soft and props ready to go. At least, most of us without dedicated yoga rooms at home don’t. In my tiny apartment, my yoga space is in a corner of the floor by the utility closet in our secondary living room/supposed-to-be-dining-room, in front of a set of bookcases and behind our dedicated laundry-folding station.
Like I said, not exactly glamorous. Having a home practice means becoming mentally okay with doing what you can in the space you have (hmmm, sounds very yogic, doesn’t it ☺). It also means having to be a bit more mindful of gathering the props I’m going to need, making sure my floor space is clear of rogue laundry and dog toys, and going the extra mile in making my home practice feel just as special as studio practice (candles, incense, setting up an altar, etc.)
2.) Find a way to find out what you’re doing.
There are a thousand ways to accomplish this! Here are links to some of the sites I’ve found most helpful, broken down by paid/unpaid/apps
- Kathryn Budig’s Yoga
- Ekhart Yoga
- Real Yoga for Real People
- Rachel Brathen (@yoga_girl)
- Yoga Babe Life
- Pocket Yoga (iOS and Android)
- Yogify (iOS only)
- My Yoga Online
Now, I know what you’re thinking. ‘I thought the whole point of at-home practice was to not have to pay’ but I actually think that sites like YogaGlo and YogaVibes are a great meet-in-the-middle for all those of you who still want the guidance/routine/aesthetic appeal of traditional studio practices for WAY cheaper. So, you know, those are a great option.
3.) Don’t be afraid to have a little fun and go a lot crazy!
You’re at home! Make the most of it! Whether that means trying a new-to-you pose that you’d be too nervous to try in front of someone else, wearing your most embarrassing pajama pants (or nothing at all!), or just mixing it up by doing something completely silly and out of the ordinary – you should feel free to take full advantage of being in your own, private, judgment-free space (and yes, this includes not feeling bad if you happen fart during savasana, which is almost impossible to do in studio without feeling like you want to melt through the floor, totally ruining the serene vibe you had going…not that I would know…) Plus, embracing the freedom of being able to do what you want in your own yoga space can do wonders for helping to calm the studio-envy blues, can revamp and amp up your excitement to practice, and is a fantastic way to loosen yourself up and learn to laugh – a lesson we could all do with a refresher in from time to time!
4.) Bring a friend – for free!
I feel like this one is fairly self-explanatory. Getting someone else excited about the thing that you’re super into is one of the most surefire ways, I’ve found, of staying super into that same thing yourself, even if at times the motivation factor seems pretty low. Having a friend join you in yoga can not only be incredibly hilarious, but can also prompt some deeper conversations that get in to some of the things we don’t always talk about with our friends all the time – happiness, peace, harmony, self-love, and all those other amazing mental aspects that yoga can help us develop.
Plus, being an at-home student means that you don’t have to worry about guess passes, paying for a guest class, or arranging transportation/scheduling for a class that’s going on at a studio (to say nothing of yogis who get very particular about the style in which their classes are taught). It’s as simple as picking up the phone and saying “come on over, let’s do yoga!” Bonus points if you can find someone who pushes you out of your comfort zone, and allows you to do the same to them!
5.) Go somewhere that’s not your house.
This will be my last piece of advice, and I know it seems to contradict EVERYTHING I just said, but I’m serious – going to a yoga class (at your gym, at a studio, at a private home session) can breathe a lot of life back in to your at-home yoga practice. I’m not advocating going to yoga class every time. But even I can scrounge up the $15 every month, month-and-a-half or so to go take a class with my very favorite Monday night Vinyasa Flow teacher, or to check out the newest teacher at my gym, or to go to a different style of class at a different time of day. You don’t know what will work for you until you try it, and taking the time to leave your home practice to see others in action will actually help you to better your at-home practice! Promise!
There you have it, folks. Five tips from a yoga-loving-but-far-from-expert on how to make your yoga work for you in your space. Hopefully you found it helpful, and as always, I’m always around on these internet parts if you have questions or want to do some more discussing! Namaste!
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