Whether you’re a seasoned yogi who wants to practice more often, or are looking to try yoga for the first time, yoga is an excellent form of exercise to do at home. Here's why.
It's great for your mental health, with studies showing it decreases stress and improves mood … and, I think we could all use a little of that right now!
It helps to increase flexibility by stretching those muscles that you may not have been using much these days. Many yoga poses also help promote full body strength and increase balance.
And, the best part? Yoga can be adapted to any skill level and ability, and you probably already have everything you need at home to get started!
At Home Yoga Starter Kit
Yoga studios provide students with many “props,” or items that make poses easier by supporting arms and legs. Here is a list of equipment you'd find in a studio, and substitutes that can be used for at-home yoga that you probably have in your closet or bookshelf:
Studio: Yoga mat
Home Substitute: Beach towel
A yoga mat keeps your feet from sliding, and makes it more comfortable when your body is on the floor. If you don't have a yoga mat available, a simple beach towel does the same job.
Studio Prop: Yoga block
Home Substitute: Textbook, shoebox or old VHS box set
A yoga block typically is made of bamboo, wood or cork, and is used as “an extension of the arms.” If you cannot bend over and touch your toes, you can bend over and rest your hands on a yoga block, which is higher and closer to you. Also, in some poses, blocks can be used to support the back, head or hips. At home, any sturdy block-shaped item will do.
Studio: Yoga strap
Home Substitute: Leather belt, dog leash, bed sheet, or the belt from your robe
In the studio, straps assist in stretching and maintaining proper alignment. Your strap substitute can be made from any firm material that is at least the length of your leg.
Studio: Yoga bolster
Home Substitute: Couch cushion or foam pillow
When performing some restorative yoga poses and breathing exercises, bolsters provide comfort and support. At home, any medium-sized soft cushion that can be used to support your head or legs while relaxing or meditating will work.
Studio: Yoga pants
Home Substitute: Clothes you can comfortably move in
There's no need to dress the part when you're working out at home! Just wear clothing that is comfortable, supportive and doesn’t restrict your movement — but, even at home, no jeans, please!
Kyle Fahey received a doctorate in physical therapy from Northwestern University. He is Shirley Ryan AbilityLab’s inpatient pain management physical therapist, and co-author of Adaptive Yoga: Designed for a Variety of Bodies and Conditions.