With more of us taking our yoga classes into our living spaces, you might have asked yourself, how can I bring the experience of practising in a studio into my home? The following are some tips to achieve just that.
The Power of Ritual
It might sound trivial, but even the smallest of gestures can imbue your practice with greater meaning and intention. By lighting a candle, or changing into a favourite T-shirt, you signify to yourself that you are switching gears and create a subtle shift in your consciousness towards the task at hand – in this case, your virtual yoga class.
Make Use of Props
Props are a great way to make poses more accessible and help you advance your practice. One of the benefits of practising from home is that you will likely have access to household objects which can be repurposed into yoga props. If you don’t have any props, here are some ideas for substitutions to get your started:
Yoga blocks are generally used to raise the floor level in poses where our hands make contact with the ground. If you don’t have blocks, you could use a stack of hardback books, or a sturdy rectangular food container.
Yoga straps are sometimes useful for poses where the the spine is rotated and the hands are clasped, or in a forward fold where you would reach for one or both feet. In these scenarios, you can use a strap or a length of fabric (a tie, a belt, a USB cable) to extend the reach of your arms.
Yoga bolsters are large, cylindrical cushions used to support the body in various restorative poses. An alternative could be a sofa cushion or a thick, rolled up towel. Blankets and eye pillows or masks are also great additions to these more restful poses.
Yoga blankets are… just blankets! When folded up a few times, they are an excellent add-on for seated hip stretches. Sitting on a blanket elevates the hips relative to the legs, which helps the pelvis to tilt forward and prevents a rounding in the lower back. They are also great for placing behind the knees when the legs are deeply flexed (as in a low squat or kneeling pose) if you have sensitive knees or tight quads. They can even be placed under the head in Savasana or draped over the body for extra warmth, helping the body to relax. If you don’t have any blankets to hand, a large towel works well.
Location, Location, Location
Setting aside a distraction-free zone to practise in can be a challenge, especially if you share your living space with others who may also be working from home. If possible, try to find a place where you won’t be interrupted and where you have plenty of room around your mat to move — including overhead, if you’re tall!
If weak Wi-Fi signal is an issue, move closer to your router where possible. You could also ask others on the same network as you to pause their high-bandwidth activities such as online video games or video streaming for the duration of the class.
Leave Your Camera On
Whether you decide to broadcast your video is entirely your choice and one that your teacher will hopefully be fully sympathetic to, especially given the rise of Zoom fatigue. However, consider that by enabling the teacher to view your video you allow them to better serve and tailor the class to the needs of the group, and even offer you personalised feedback. Equally, it helps to create a more communal experience for your fellow yogis. No one is going to mind that you haven’t combed your hair today or that your laundry hanging up to dry. Microphones, on the other hand, are best left muted once the class has begun to reduce background noise and avoid echo.
Listen to Your Body
You should never feel any pain or discomfort in any of the poses. If you do, you should back off the stretch or take a rest. Child’s Pose, or lying down with the knees together are both good options for taking rest. Without a physical teacher in the room, it’s even more important to tune into your inner teacher — your body’s innate intelligence. This is really what the practice of yoga is all about; bringing greater conscious awareness into every cell of the body, allowing us to move with ease and fluidity both on and off the mat.
The Office Yoga Company works with elite multinational organisations around the world. If you’re interested in boosting your colleagues’ mental and physical wellbeing while they work from home by offering an impactful virtual wellness programme, please get in touch with us to get started. We’d love to hear from you!