During our lockdowns, we needed yoga more than ever. Keeping our body and mind healthy, all in one small package of 45min-1h yoga practice. Before the pandemic, I loved seeing my students progress from zero experience into totally focused, with control, yogis, and getting stronger in every class.
But can you actually start yoga on your own, online? Yes, you can! In fact, before my yoga immersion in Thailand, I had started with beginner on-demand yoga videos. It was the same video every time (back then there was no yoga on youtube, in fact barely anyone knew what youtube was). But I will never forget the calmness of the voice of that yoga teacher and how great I would feel after each practice. What I didn't have was someone to look at my body and tell me I was doing OK, and there was no one to practice with me at the same time, to exchange notes, or be part of a community.
We are SO lucky with technology at the moment, we can now do all of the above! And because of all the lockdowns, now most teachers are available to you, from all around the world! How cool is that?
There is no better time to start something new than now. If you were shy to join a studio class because you are new (I know it took me 6 months of stalking my local Thai studio online before I actually joined), the fact you can actually join a live class from home can be a great relief. And not only that, the teacher will definitely be able to see and interact with you and help you progress.
So, what do you need to start yoga, online?
1. Find a beginners class or programme
Most of the teachers out there, including me, had to dive into the deep end of the online teaching method, starting teaching our regular students. The idea was to keep the community going, and to support each other, whilst keeping our body and mind healthy.
After two years of zoom teaching and more and more teachers are now offering much more than they could offer at a studio (having the freedom of one's ample online studio schedule is truly amazing!). So do your research, maybe ask a friend to recommend you a teacher and give it a go!
2. Get your home studio ready
If you have ever been into a yoga studio before, you will know the mood of the space is completely different to say, a Zumba class. The lighting might be low, everyone is quiet, or whispers, some students may be sitting in meditation or laying down. There may be candles, essential oils burning. Plants, a buddha and the temperature warm.
Now that you are at home, try and make your space as tranquil as possible. Find a quiet spot of your house (but with enough space so your device is far enough so the teacher can see the whole of you), lay your mat or rug down and look around you. Does your space feel warm and welcoming? Maybe move a plant pot near you, light a candle, throw a couple of cushions and a blanket. Whatever makes you feel comfy and nice; this is your space, your little haven for an hour. Make it yours.
Ask any teacher and we'll tell you, you don't need anything to do yoga. Just yourself. However, there are some props that will help you start and enhance your experience. Especially as you are new to the practice, a couple of props will help your body into postures, and keep your mind focused on your practice.
Yoga mat: as a beginner, a simple, sticky and inexpensive yoga mat from Yogamatters is a perfect start. If your hands and feet sweat easily, get some inexpensive chalk. A long enough rug is good too. In fact, that's what they used to use in India to practice in the olden days. If you have a larger budget, there is such a wide choice of mats you can choose from, but my absolute favourite is Liforme by far. Good for the environment, sweaty hands and feet stay put, and large enough to spread out to your heart's content (here is a link to get 10% off your first order)
Two cork bricks: these are so so helpful not only for a beginner but for every level of yogi. I prefer cork, because it is not too light like foam is, nor too heavy, like some wooden blocks. not to mention it's environmentally friendly!
A belt or a strap (bathrobe belt works well too)
Eye-pillow: totally optional, but oh-so-nice to have during savasana (end of practice "corpse pose" where you get to lay down and completely relax)
4. Eat something light one hour+ before practice
The last thing you want is for your food to come back up during your session...! Granted, a beginner's class will be gentle, but it will still be physical enough, so keep your stomach fairly empty. That goes for liquids too! (water is OK)
5. If you tried it just once, give it one more try
Sometimes it takes us a couple of goes at starting a new thing before we can say we really like it and want to go back. If you tried a class and it wasn't for you, give it one more try! Try a different teacher (every teacher has their own style), someone with or without music, a different style of yoga, etc. I promise, there is a style and teacher for everyone!
But, hey, if you've tried it a couple of times and it's still not for you, that's ok too! As long as you find something to keep your body moving and healthy and that you can really enjoy, then it will be much easier to stick to it and keep practising it, and that's all that matters.