Finding time to work out can be challenging any time of year, but especially in the winter. As the blustery, cooler months arrive, the idea of traveling to and from the gym, or finding a time that actually fits into the dwindling daylight hours, becomes more challenging.
With the season comes freezing temperatures (brr!), snow, darker nights, and just more clothing to lug around. The answer? Go ahead and give into your nesting instincts this winter… you can still stay fit and active! Creating a home workout routine can be just as beneficial as a gym, plus it’s stress-free, inexpensive, and customizable to whatever you need.
My favorite home workout by far is yoga. By creating a home routine, you can move at your own pace, stretch how you like, and practice any of the poses you want that you might have felt uncomfortable or intimidated doing in a group setting. Plus, control over the music!
All you need is a little self-motivation and you’ll have your home practice routine down in no time. Here are some tips and a great routine to get you started.
Move a little or a lot — just get moving!
Let go of the idea that yoga has to have a set time, place, or the fact that you need to be wearing certain clothes for it to be called yoga. Start with the poses you know, the ones that feel amazing to your body and just move.
The best thing about a home practice is that you can flow for however long you want. You can wake up and move for 10 to 30 minutes in the morning, and then move again for another 15 minutes before you head to bed or while you’re waiting for dinner to be ready. Often times when I’m completely stressed out, feeling anxious, or just feel the need to move, I will completely stop what I’m doing and move, breath, or meditate even for 10 to 15 minutes. It helps me refocus my energy, calm my mind, and allows me to see the bigger picture of whatever it is that I’m working on.
Sometimes you just need to take a step back and breathe, so you can conquer your to-do list with full force.
Designate a spot in your home for yoga practice
I find that if I have a dedicated spot in my apartment, I’m more likely to stick to my yoga routine. Usually I will leave my mat under my bed or easily accessible in my closet so I can roll it out quickly. I try to have flowers, candles, and whatever else reminds me of a yoga studio in this spot, which helps put me in the right mindset to practice.
Dedicate some space in your room that sets a calming, peaceful tone. It’s a lot better than attempting to Zen out near your TV, unless you’re following a video or subscribe to an online yoga studio. Both are great options if you enjoy guided yoga, which can also help you commit to a regular practice.
Schedule out your yoga time
I have a calendar of what I need to do every single day and keep it open on my computer in the month view. I schedule out project deadlines, workout schedules, meetings, dates with friends, and even times when I need to (and should) hop on my mat at home, even if it’s just 10 minutes.
When I simply cannot make it to yoga for the week, I know that I must fit in home practices for my well-being. It helps me stay calm, focused, energized, and appreciate my body. I also make weekly goals, like practicing yoga three times a week. It doesn’t necessarily matter when you do it or for how long. But the more you practice, the more benefits you will see and feel, and the more natural the practice will become for you.
Have yoga date nights!
Schedule yoga date nights with your friends! You can get together at each other’s places, do yoga, then cook a healthy dinner afterward. This makes it fun, keeps you motivated, and holds you accountable. Nurturing a friendship in this way can also be great for your mental health. You’ll feel happier and have something positive to look forward to as the new week starts.
If you can’t meet up regularly, try scheduling weekly check-ins to see that you’re all doing your at-home practices! Try challenging each other to write out a few poses that you’ve been working on and exchange them, so then you always have a new flow to try. The possibilities are endless — you just have to jump in.
A simple starter yoga routine
1. Child’s Pose
Start here for a few breaths. Set your intention, check in with how you’re feeling, calm your breathing, and begin to relax your body and mind.
Start in tabletop and move through Cat-Cow, going with the flow of your breath. This will warm up your spine. Inhale for Cow pose, exhale for Cat.
3. Downward Dog
From tabletop, flow into Downward Dog. Begin to peddle out of your feet and bend into your knees. Lift your right leg, then the opposite. This will give you a nice stretch in your hamstrings and calves, open your chest and shoulders, and generally wake you up.
4. Warrior I
This is where you flow and move how you want. Start in Sun Salutation and move into Warrior I. If you like, flow into Warrior II, Side Angle Pose, or anything else that’s calling to you! Here, I like to flow at a continuous rate to get my heart rate up, and I might even hold a few high planks and add in core work to strengthen my core muscles as well as my back. This doesn’t have to be rigid, just move!
5. Back Bend
If you feel that you need energy, try a back bend — either on your knees or standing up. Once you have completed those, inversions are great! Handstands or even something as simple as Legs-Up-the-Wall (my favorite!). The latter is believed to help quiet the mind and let all the blood rush back into your body after standing on your feet all day!
6. Forward Bend
This will not only stretch out your hamstrings, but your lower back, too. It will also put pressure on the digestive organs and help calm the nervous system and mind! Once you have completed the Forward Folds, you can begin to end your home practice by laying down and flowing into a Supine Twist, if you like. Take any other pose your body needs at this time.
The most important pose of them all — it’s time to completely let go in Savasana. If you can, turn off the light, lay down, and close your eyes. Consciously relax every part of your body, from your jaw to your pinky toe. Stay in Savasana for as long as you need before slowly opening your eyes and rising into a seated position.
My personal commitment to yoga has allowed me to be more present and reduced my anxiety and stress. I sleep more soundly, I pay more attention to the art of self-care, I feel more energized, I work more efficiently, and I’m just more in touch with what my body needs both mentally and physically.
Practicing at home offers me the freedom of practicing on my own time. I might not always be able to realistically find 60, 75, or even 90 minutes to practice, but I can always find the time to squeeze in 10 minutes of yoga or meditation — even in the frigid winter.
Don’t think or be intimidated by this notion that your home practice needs to be as challenging as the classes that you might find in a studio and that everything has to be just right — the lighting, the heat, the music, the sequence. You will reap the same benefits at home. You’re moving and calming down your body, clearing your head, moving energy, becoming more mindful, reducing your stress, and focusing in on what your body needs.
Blair is a lifestyle and food blogger behind balance with b. She’s also a certified yoga teacher. Blair understands the importance of eating real foods and that healthy eating doesn’t have to be difficult or intimidating. After years of anxiety, migraines, digestive issues such as IBS, leaky gut, and SIBO, Blair knows how difficult it can be to navigate through life and feel normal, especially during stressful times. Through a dedicated yoga practice and listening to what works for her body, she’s taken back control of her life and feels like her normal self again! Her goal is to inspire others to embrace a healthy lifestyle and empower them to feel confident both mentally and physically. Follow her on Instagram.