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How to start practicing yoga at home: A guide for beginners

From the instructors to follow, the apps to download and the online classes to join

Louise Whitbread
Friday 22 May 2020 15:47 BST
Turn your living room into your private yoga studio
Turn your living room into your private yoga studio

As we continue to adjust to our new normal in lockdown, finding a way to be active while staying indoors can be tricky.

The government may have closed leisure centres and gyms, but it’s still important to still keep active.

Regular exercise can be a great stress reliever, mood booster and aid in helping you sleep better, which is exactly what we all need in these uncertain times.

For those of us who don’t have the luxury of a swish private at-home gym, then it’s time to get creative and turn your bedroom, hallway or living room into your dedicated workout space.

If you’re looking to raise your heart rate, but are limited on space and equipment, then take up yoga.

Perhaps you’ve always thought of signing up to classes but never got round to it or are looking to dip your toes into the fitness sphere now you have ample time, now is the best time to start.

It can be daunting to get started without the help of a class to attend and a teacher’s instructions to follow, so we’ve created a helpful guide for beginners.

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Firstly, find a space. “You need just enough to lie a yoga mat down, plus a little added extra around the edges in case you stretch out slightly – I’d suggest an extra 50cm if possible,” says Fitness Instructor Charlotte Holmes.

Secondly, grab a mat. Holmes advises it’s really the only piece of equipment you need and recommends YogiBare, an eco-friendly yoga brand whose mats start from £42.95. You can forgo a mat and lay down a towel instead if you don’t have the budget or want to try a few poses out regularly before investing.

If you don't have a big TV to connect your yoga classes too, use your iPad or phone propped up on the mat instead

So you’ve got your space, a mat and a bottle of water nearby to stay hydrated while you work up a sweat, what next?

Holmes recommends three beginner moves if it’s your first foray into yoga. The first is the cat/cow, with hands and knees firmly planted on the floor, while you arch your back, keeping your arms straight. “It’s great for spinal health, mobility and is easy to learn,” says Holmes. “The plank is also a simple move to practice that will build core strength.”

To round the short routine off, Holmes suggests the downward dog. “It brings additional blood flow to the brain, increasing energy and reducing stress.”

However, if you’re looking for some guidance or to feel part of a community, there’s an abundance of online classes to join. Fitness app Fiit offers easy to follow, at-home workouts led by experienced trainers, and the yoga sessions that are comprised of bodyweight moves and practising breath work and mobility in 25 or 40-minute chunks for £10 a month. There’s hundreds to pick from with a dedicated section for beginners so you don’t feel out your depth.

Find a morning activity that you enjoy and incorporate it into your daily routine (iStock)

You may have seen Yoga With Adriene, one of the biggest yoga YouTube channels, fronted by instructor Adriene Mishler. She leads free, very straightforward sessions on her channel to her six million subscribers, creating challenges such as 30 Days Of Yoga or poses for specific needs like chronic pain or for cramps. You’ll also find simple poses to imitate posted on her Instagram too.

Live streams are another way to participate in a class from the comfort of your living room. London yoga studio, Dig Me Fitness is hosting live streams of HIIT and yoga sessions throughout the day that you can join before you sit down to work, on your lunch break, and once your workday is over with, accompanied remotely by hundreds of others tuning in too, while still going at your own pace.

As for how long to commit to your workout, don’t be too strict on yourself. “Do it for as long as feels good,” says Holmes. “Do it for as much time as you have. Yoga is as much to do about being present and therefore doing what feels good for that exact moment. Try and tune into what feels good for you immediately, versus what you think you ‘should’ be doing that day.”

Best yoga pants

Sweaty Betty power gym leggings: £75, Sweaty Betty – Buy now

We’ve been wearing these Sweaty Betty Power leggings for years now and can confirm that even after hundreds of gym sessions and just as many machine washes, they’re still as good as new. They feature a small zip pocket at the back where you can stash your keys and another pocket on one side, perfect for storing your phone. These fit us perfectly but there’s also an internal drawcord if you need to make them tighter at the waist. The stretchy fabric is very flattering, with one fellow gym-goer even coming over to complement us while we were wearing them (not something we’d expect when red faced and out of puff).

Best yoga mat

Liforme yoga mat: £100, Liforme ​– Buy now

The first mat to convert our reviewer to a smooth surface, this ingenious, spacious offering from Liforme is as balanced as a good tree pose. The surface is really grippy, even in the most intense hot yoga class our reviewer tried, and it is longer and wider than most (at 185cm x 68cm) and it sits right at the sweet spot for thickness (4.2mm). What makes it so unique, though, is the grid system laid over the top to help you align yourself in poses.

This is brilliant for anyone with a home practice, who doesn’t have a teacher on hand for adjustments. The lines are very slightly textured and they do take a bit of getting used to – particularly if you have a set shape for downward dog, for example – but it’s worth playing with. The mat comes with its own carry bag but is heavy; if you plan to mostly use it at home, that doesn’t matter.

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