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A studio-quality experience is possible. The trick? Tame your distractions, use what you have, and find a great digital class.
“Lie on your back and rest,” the teacher instructs softly. “Savasana.”
I come to the floor and stretch out my legs and arms, ready to relax after a hard yoga flow and an even harder morning.
Someone next to me starts breathing heavily. It’s extremely distracting, but I try to focus on my own breath and the sweet scent of a candle burning nearby. Just then, a mobile phone rings and a voice starts speaking loudly in the adjacent room.
This is supposed to be the quiet portion of class. “Why isn’t anyone following the rules?” I wonder. “Wait, is that bacon?”
Just then, my toddler bursts into the room: “Mama!” I open my eyes to see the dog’s snout inches from my face. My husband yells from the kitchen, “Do you want breakfast?”
I’m jolted back to reality. No, this is definitely not the same as doing yoga in a studio. But sometimes, when I set the mood just right, I almost forget I’m doing yoga in my own home.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have moved their yoga practice out of studio and gym settings and into their homes. We’ve all learned very quickly that it’s not so easy to find your Zen amidst a pile of laundry or a partner’s work calls.
For those of us who dream of building a home studio one day, a dedicated space can be quite costly. Most yogis have no choice but to squeeze their practice in wherever the mat can fit — from their children’s bedrooms to hallways.
In addition to missing the serenity and space of the yoga shala, many also miss the convenience of having all the props (tools) they need easily accessible.
Well, I have some good news! Not only is it possible to transform your home into a studio, but you can also do so without incurring high (or, really, any) costs.
In fact, by simply using everyday objects around the house, you can transform your laundry room into your own private yoga oasis, even if only for the 30 minutes while you’re taking a class.
In fact, all you ever need to do yoga is the circumference of your mat. And even that is negotiable!
Here are five easy hacks to turn your home into a yoga studio at little to no cost.
Carve out your space
Having taught mat-to-mat classes and practiced in countless tiny hotel rooms, I can tell you firsthand that all the space you need to do yoga is the length of your mat.
You can create a yoga space anywhere your mat fits. This also means making a commitment to yourself that anything that exists off the mat must fade into the background for the length of time you’re doing yoga. Think of “portrait mode” on an iPhone.
That laundry pile 6 inches from your head? Your neighbor upstairs moving furniture? Try to ignore it and focus on what’s in front of you. Literally.
Earbuds are your friends
Did you know that the fastest sense to reach the human brain is hearing (1)? As the saying goes, “the ears don’t lie.”
This means that one of the best ways to find your presence is by focusing on sound. With most devices, you can play both the instruction and your favorite playlist at the same time.
Many teachers post their playlists to Spotify and Apple Music, letting you choose your own soundtrack and helping drown out what’s happening outside, so you can drop into what’s happening inside.
Set the mood
Now that your ears are taken care of, let’s work with your eyes and nose. If you have access to lights, turn them down or off.
It may not always be possible to turn the lights down in the room you’re in. I’ve taught yoga in many gyms where we didn’t have access to the switch. If that’s the case, you can always close your eyes when you’re upright and then place a towel over your face when you’re lying down.
Scent is also a powerful tool for calming your nervous system. Light a candle or, if you’re somewhere a little more public, dab some essential oils onto your skin.
Create your own props
One benefit of doing yoga in a studio is the easy access to props, but this may actually change post-COVID, with many studios now requiring you to bring your own.
This makes practicing at home even more convenient, since it means you don’t have to lug all your stuff back and forth. Being at home also means you don’t have to invest in fancy props!
You can use household items, such as a towel for a blanket, a couch cushion for a bolster, a hand towel for an eye pillow, and a belt or scarf for a strap.
Canned goods work great as blocks for balance and additional height. YogaWorks teacher Jennie Cohen suggests using toilet paper rolls for supine poses like supported backbends — a trick she actually learned from one of her livestream students.
Create a rope wall
Level up your personal space even more with this hack. Have you ever walked into a yoga studio and seen yogis hanging upside down like bats before class starts? That area of the studio is called a rope wall.
You can actually re-create the lower ropes with a long strap, resistance bands, or even a dog leash. Make a large loop of your “rope” and wrap it on the door handle side to which the door opens. Then pull the door shut with the rope running along the side of the door.
Next, step into the strap, placing it on the top your thighs, and walk your upper body forward.
Either come into a Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana) or, depending on your height and the length of the strap, walk your hands all the way out to Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana).
Practicing yoga online at home actually has some enormous benefits — such as no commute time, or feeling less self-conscious and more empowered to take care of your own body versus following the pack.
But the greatest benefit of the yoga world having gone digital is that you now have access to the world’s best teachers right in your bedroom.
Here are some top choices for online yoga streaming services and apps that will leave you feeling great, even if you have to hide in your closet to take the class:
- YogaWorks At Home. YogaWorks has been a leader in yoga since 1987. Many of the world’s top teachers have gotten their start there. With the YogaWorks At Home platform, which includes 30+ live classes streaming daily and a library of 1,300+ classes, you can access top-notch instructors at little cost.
- Glo. Glo is one of the highest-rated yoga apps and boasts a library of 4,000 beautifully shot classes. It has a huge variety of yoga and meditation classes, plus Pilates and fitness. It’s available as both a streaming service and an app, offering top-rated teachers and a sleek interface.
- Yoga with Adriene. Adriene Mishler was a trailblazer in YouTube yoga. In 2012 she made it her mission to offer free, high quality yoga videos, and almost a decade later, she has nearly 10 million subscribers. Her classes cover a wide range of topics and styles, and her energy is warm and inviting.
- Yoga on Gaia. Gaia’s streaming platform has an enormous library of classes and allows you to customize your flow based on style, class length, or difficulty. The instructor roster includes well known teachers such as Rodney Yee, Kathryn Budig, and Sally Kempton. Plus, membership is affordable.
- Yoga International. For the devoted yoga student ready to take their practice even further, Yoga International offers a wide range of courses, workshops, and streaming and prerecorded classes. It’s a membership-based site with numerous perks for members, including free trainings.
- Down Dog App. With 60,000+ possible class configurations, the possibilities are endless — this includes choosing class length, style, the voice of the instructor, and whether to play music. The app boasts 500,000 current users, and the number is continuing to rise.
- Yoga Wake Up. If you’re struggling to get yoga into your day in the first place, this is the app for you. Yoga Wake Up becomes your alarm clock. The app offers 5- to 15-minute yoga flows or meditations. Many classes begin right from your bed!
We’ve all had to adapt our routines in the last year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a studio-quality yoga experience from home. With these tips and tricks, you’ll be finding your Zen in no time.
Sarah Ezrin is a motivator, writer, yoga teacher, and yoga teacher trainer. Based in San Francisco, where she lives with her husband and their dog, Sarah is changing the world, teaching self-love to one person at a time. For more information on Sarah, please visit her website, www.sarahezrinyoga.com.