As we continue our practice of social distancing and working from home, we can feel the effects in both our mental and physical well-being. Beyond anxiety and stress, we might feel restless and frustrated by necessary restrictions. Yoga is an incredible way to effectively expand our sense of space from within.
While walking, running, and bike riding are great options for taking a break and exercising, yoga offers a dynamic range of movement – from calming to strenuous – that also doesn’t require too much room or equipment. Yoga offers a pathway to exercise your entire body and build flexibility and fitness. It’s even been found to help our response to stress, supporting our mental health.
You might already have an active yoga practice in a neighborhood studio or with a favorite yogi that you’re looking to translate into your home environment, or you might be looking to develop a new practice from your home. Read on for our tips to develop new movement routines, along with simple and affordable recommendations to create your own yoga studio environment at home.
Space & Material
The great thing about yoga is that all you need to complete most poses is a space the size of a yoga mat. While it is possible to do yoga on most surfaces, it is ideal to have some sort of carpeting to prevent slipping if you don’t have a yoga mat. In terms of yoga mats, try and choose one that is free of toxins such as PVC, EVA, synthetic rubbers, and other carcinogens.
Remember to maintain good hygienic practices by cleaning your yoga mat periodically. You can create a mixture of warm water and a few drops of dish soap and spritz your mat with a spray bottle if you have one. Then, give your mat a good scrub with a clean cloth, rinse it with warm water, and let it air dry before rolling it. Do this once per month to help keep your mat clean and odor free.
If you do yoga in the morning, try to find a well-lit area as exposure to bright light during the day helps energize your body. In contrast, if you prefer an evening yoga practice, seek a space with dimmer, warmer lighting as this will help relax your mind and prepare your body for sleep. Light helps sync your body to your circadian rhythm, a 24-hour internal sleep and wake cycle. Inappropriately timed light exposure, such as bright light during the evening or dim light during the day, can interfere with your circadian rhythm and make you feel drowsy or alert at the wrong time.
Yoga requires a lot of deep inhalation and exhalation, so it is important that the air in your space is of the best quality possible. When an indoor space is not adequately ventilated, pollutants such as particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) accumulate through activities such as cooking and cleaning. High levels of these pollutants may lead to symptoms such as headaches, dry throat, asthma attacks, and even long-term effects such as poisoning or cancer. Poor ventilation can also lead to a build-up of carbon dioxide that may negatively impact your cognitive performance (the recommended levels should not exceed 600-800 parts per million). You can check the quality of your indoor air using an air quality sensor and monitor, which can easily be purchased online. Read more about the importance of maintaining indoor air quality in our article: HVAC Guidance to Reduce the Risk of Viral Transmission.
If the weather permits and the outdoor air quality is good, ventilate your room by opening your windows to circulate fresh air throughout your home. You can also use your kitchen or whole-home ventilator to help clean the air. Or, if you own a standalone or portable air purifier, use it to clean the air in your space during your yoga practice. Make sure to check the filters on your ventilators, air purifiers, or even A/C units. These filters are expendable and usually need to be cleaned every few months and replaced every year or two in order for the system to effectively clean your air.
Yoga Apps & Videos
Now that you’ve created an ideal environment for your yoga practice, it’s time to identify some routines that work for you. From YouTube to the Apple Store or Google Play, the market is full of yoga apps and video tutorials that can help you establish your yoga practice. You can search for apps that suit your level – whether as a beginner or advanced yogi – or that enable customization to your preferences, from “bedtime yoga” to “yoga for abs.” YouTube videos are great for exploring particular poses in greater depth. Some apps also provide community platforms through which you can connect with other users or join focused groups. While most apps are iPad compatible, some also work on platforms such as Apple TV and Chromecast.
Congratulations on setting up your home yoga studio! You can further embellish your space with design elements like fabrics or icons that invoke peace of mind. Remember that yoga is great not just as a regular fitness practice, but also as a personal sanctuary you can retreat to whenever you feel stressed out!
Edited by Radhika Singh, Carolyn Swope and Regina Vaicekonyte