Written by Kaylee Nelson, 500-RYT
Flow with Kaylee on YouTube
There is something truly special about packing into a 90 degree studio with 80 of your sweatiest yogi friends and moving and breathing in unison. The energy of a community in rhythm is unmatched. But during this unique time, we’ve swapped the studio for live streams in our living rooms (or bedrooms, balconies, bathrooms – wherever you may be), and now have the opportunity to practice with our favorite teachers from the comfort of our own homes. From rolling out of bed and straight onto your mat two minutes before class to landing your first difficult arm balance that you were unsure of trying in-studio, let’s explore some of the perks of practicing from home.
Fail More, Fear Less
I don’t know about you, but I would way rather land on my face in front of my dog than a room full of people. For many yoga practitioners, playing with handstand hops or attempting your first side crow may come naturally and with ease in a crowd of people. For many more practitioners, the thought of both feet in the air or tumbling on to your neighbors mat is enough to make sure you always keep one foot on the ground. Without the pressure of other people or your teacher seeing you fail, we may be more likely to try new things without fear. While the studio is a perfectly safe place to give it your all, play, and fall over – we may feel more comfortable taking the extra challenge when we are our only witness. Take advantage of this time (and all of the extra pillows and bedding) to try that arm balance you’ve been curious about, or take the more difficult option your teacher may be offering on their online classes.
Alternatively, this is a great time to practice listening to your body when it comes to rest. Many times in-studio, we may push ourselves over the edge during a challenging flow to keep up with the group even when our bodies are telling us it is time to rest. While you are always safe to rest anytime for any reason, group pressure often makes us turn a blind eye to our own well-being and in some cases could result in injury. In a studio class, we may try to go deeper into a pose because we see our neighbor’s extreme range of motion and don’t want to appear immobile or inflexible. When you practice alone, you’re both the person with the most depth and the most limitation in the room. Enjoy the extra privacy to practice moving intuitively and tuning into what is best for your body, whether that is trying something new or taking an extra-long child’s pose.
Try a New Teacher
Does your schedule usually limit you to practicing at certain times each day? Have you ever wondered what that friendly 4:00 P.M. teacher’s class was like as you stroll into a steamy room waiting for the 5:30pm to start week after week? Wonder no more! This is the perfect time to try out a new teacher’s class. Most live streams are available for 24 hours after they air, which means you can go back and take any class within that 24 hour window. You can now take class with the teacher your friend has been trying to drag you to for the last year, or try that 6:00 AM Hot Onnit class that you’ve been curious about but could never wake up for. When the studio reopens, you may have a new handful of favorite teachers to add to your yoga schedule.
I, just as much as you, love to show off my fancy Lululemon leggings and matching bra when I park my mat in the front row of my favorite class. But you know what’s better than wearing bouji two-pieces? Wearing nothing at all. Nothing beats rolling out of bed and onto your yoga mat in your pajamas and stripping down the layers once you start to sweat without a care or societal standard to uphold. Leggings that fall down or shorts that ride up are yesterday’s concern. There’s no time like today to throw caution to the wind when it comes to your wardrobe. Throw on whatever you’ve got, hop on your mat, and embrace the skin you’re in. Whether you like to practice in multiple layers, in your underwear, or in the nude; you don’t have to worry about social norms when you’re social distancing. Let it all hang out, friends!
Extend Your Savasana
There’s nothing like waking up from your two minutes too short savasana to the sound of impatient neighbors hurriedly rolling up their mats, putting up their blocks, and chatting with their friends. Hurry no more. Remember: yoga is just as much a stillness practice as it is a movement practice. Practicing from home offers you the golden opportunity to truly surrender even deeper to your stillness practice, something we need now more than ever. Instead of skipping savasana because it’s now “optional,” gift yourself a ten minute savasana if your situation allows. Simply continue to rest beyond the end of your teacher’s livestream until your body decides it is time to wake up. Experience how a little extra rest and relaxation post-flow can transform the rest of your day.
Turn Your “Commute” into a Meditation Practice
If you’d like to dive even deeper into post-flow bliss, use any extra time you might have saved by not having to drive home from the studio to develop a pranayama or meditation practice. Whether it’s five minutes or twenty five minutes that you would normally be spending in your car, turn your commute time into self-care time. The perfect time to hop into pranayama and/or meditation is after the completion of your asana practice. Once you’ve moved and grooved on the mat and unloaded physical and mental restlessness, the body and mind are now primed for ease and concentration. After savasana, gently press to sit upright in a comfortable position (I like to sit on a cushion or a yoga block). Close your eyes, bring your inner gaze to the space between your brows, and observe or count your breath as it moves in and out of your body. There are countless methods of practicing pranayama and meditation and even more tools and resources available online to help you get started. My personal favorite resource for guided meditation is the Waking Up app created by Sam Harris.
Movement, deep breath, and quiet time is the recipe for peace that we can all use right now. Fortunately, yoga isn’t just a fitness class that happens in a studio. It’s an ancient tradition of contemplation and self-discovery that isn’t limited to a given place and time. Yoga is with you and inside of you all of the time wherever you are. Asana practice can happen anywhere that you can find a 2ft x 6ft space. Wherever that may be, unroll your mat (or just practice on your floor or carpet), keep your practice alive and enjoy all the advantages of practicing at home! We’ll be back to sweating and breathing and moving together real soon. Until then, let’s work with what we’ve got, stay positive, and be well. See you on the screen, yogis!