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Yoga at home is different. As someone who loves going into the yoga studio, moving my practice home was difficult at first. I missed the community of fellow yogis and yoga teachers practicing beside me and the ability to focus inward and tune everything else out.
While I practiced at home, I had a lot more distractions. Whether it was slow Wi-Fi, the sound of the TV on in the other room, or my dog climbing all over my yoga mat, I felt like I just couldn’t focus.
Aside from all those obvious external distractions, I felt tons of internal ones as well. “I should’ve thrown my laundry in before this...” “Did I turn the oven off?” “Is someone texting me?” “I can’t wait to eat a snack when this is over.” The list goes on and on...
But as studios remained closed, I realized it might be a while before I could go back to in-person yoga classes—and I needed to change my attitude. So, I made a conscious decision to stop being mad about the whole situation and try to get the most out of my at-home yoga practice.
Here are some tips that helped me finally learn to love virtual yoga.
You wouldn’t bring your phone into your in-studio yoga practice, so why should you have it next to you during a virtual class? A huge part of yoga is eliminating distractions, and there’s nothing more distracting than a phone that lights up, dings, or buzzes every five seconds. Turn your phone off, or if you’re like me, just put it in another room so you can’t even see the thing.
If you’ve ever looked around in a yoga studio, you can probably tell a lot of thought, planning, and TLC went into making it the beautiful, welcoming, and peaceful sanctuary you practice in. When I first started doing at-home yoga, I’d roll out my mat in the tiny space next to my bed or push the coffee table aside in the living room. As I flowed through my asanas, I’d have to push a pair of sneakers out of my way or find myself accidentally kicking the wall. This was not ideal.
Once I realized this would be a regular thing, I made sure the room was spotless, set up my diffuser (or space heater) in a corner, had blankets ready, plants surrounding me, and my own personal little yoga space to help me find my Zen. Don’t be afraid to switch it up and discover which area of the house you like best! Now, I alternate between my little yoga spot in the bedroom and taking my mat out onto the balcony when the weather’s nice, and I need some fresh air. It’s the little things.
Just because you’re not physically with the people or teachers in your class, doesn’t mean you’re not together. In virtual classes, there are people from all over the place (maybe even different states or countries!) practicing the same flow and following the same instructor. That is beautiful in itself! Virtual classes have opened doors for lots of people to try yoga, perhaps even beginners trying for the first time. Some don’t live near a yoga studio. Some can’t typically afford the in-studio pricing. Some may have been too nervous or embarrassed to walk into a new yoga class alone. And some may have recently decided to try yoga because of their increased free time—or anxiety about the state of the world. Whatever the reason, many are coming together to practice yoga alongside you. This may be the first yoga community they have ever been a part of.
When I would go into the studio, I felt a little more structure. I had class at a set time, needed to arrive a few minutes early to get a good spot and set up, and I would never consider walking out in the middle of the yoga practice to go home and do laundry.
When I did virtual yoga classes, though, I’d often work right up until the start of class. I’d look at the clock, rush to set up my mat in a panic, and usually end up missing the breathing/focusing/warming up part. I’d jump right in without setting the tone, which would often lead to distractions throughout. When we were right in the thick of it, I'd remember some “important” thing I had to do, and sometimes I’d even get up and go do it, because who’s watching?
Learning to treat virtual yoga the same way I treated regular class was key to making the practice worthwhile. I started implementing some “commute” time, a buffer in between work and yoga. I’d get everything set up and be ready to go with time to spare, so I could tune in—and stay tuned in—throughout my whole practice.
The best part of virtual workout classes is no one can see you. Not that anyone paid attention to you during in-studio yoga, but there’s definitely some comfort in knowing you’re not playing a game of who’s more flexible or who can do the best headstands. Now’s the time to—carefully—try out those new poses you’ve been too nervous to try. Think outside the box, go off-script a bit, find your flow, and add to your practice. If you don’t follow along to exactly what the teacher is saying, that’s okay! Take this at-home time to find freedom and creativity in your yoga practice, expressing yourself, trying new things, and not worrying about anyone but yourself.
After I started doing these five things, my relationship with virtual yoga completely changed. Instead of dreading it, dipping out early, or feeling like my thoughts were elsewhere the whole time, I began to appreciate it in an entirely different way.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my in-person studio, and I can’t wait to get back once it reopens, but I think I’ll mix a little virtual into my routine from here on out.
In the past, on days when I couldn’t make it to class in time because of rush hour traffic, forgot my mat or a change of clothes, or didn’t sign up before it filled up, I’d just go home and skip yoga that day. Now, I envision a hybrid routine, with virtual and in-studio classes. I’ll be able to fit in a lot more yoga, stop making excuses, practice on my own, and continue to support my studio all along.
Here’s to second chances.
Want to try a virtual yoga class for yourself? Browse Mindbody to find one that fits your schedule!
Since 1992, April has been recognized as Stress Awareness Month. It was established to help shed light on the issues behind stress, teach us how to fight it, and create methods to overcome it. While this initiative has existed just shy of three decades, this year it seems particularly important.
With a year under our belts in pandemic mode—a lot of us had to get creative when it came to keeping our cool. On top of that, everyday stresses didn’t just magically disappear during this time either. Just think about it—have you ever been in a situation that was overwhelming? Maybe you’ve had a looming deadline or a to-do list that seems, well...totally un-doable? If you’ve ever felt you were in over your head, please know you’re not alone—you never are. At one time or another, we’ve all been affected by stress—although each person may manifest it differently. Me? I'm definitely a frequent rider on the "hot mess stress express."
There are many ways to help combat stress—some of us seek out support from friends and family, while others find solace in taking up meditation or unwinding with a relaxing yoga class. Whatever helps you find peace, just keep doing you. But also know we have some resources to help you overcome stress whenever the need arises.
Here are some blog posts that are always available to you when you feel a little stressed out:
When in doubt, breathwork expert and sound healer, Shanila Sattar, always has tips to help ground yourself—especially in times of need. In this blog post, she gives you the recipe for incorporating self-love into your daily routine by encouraging us to ask ourselves these questions: How do we treat ourselves? How do we talk to ourselves? What foods are we putting into our bodies? How are we thinking about our overall well-being when practicing self-love? As we all know, self-love defines and redefines itself for everyone over the years, here are a few foundational tips to think about when easing into your self-love journey.
Yoga Nidra, or “yogic sleep,” is a practice that has been around for thousands of years and it aims to restore the mind, body, and soul through deep, guided meditation. The way it works is like the way a power nap helps one feel refreshed during a particularly exhausting day, except you aren’t technically sleeping. I describe it as a long-form of savasana—anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour. (Real talk: savasana is one of the best parts of practicing yoga, am I right?)
TLDR: I learned that I could conquer stress in a matter of minutes with Yoga Nidra.
Are we safe in saying this last year brought up a ton of emotions the likes of which we did not plan for? The good, the bad, the “unprecedented”—our hearts and minds have been taken on a wild rollercoaster ride, and for many of us, our mental health is suffering. With our minds running in thousands of directions, it’s hard to notice our own needs. Yes, our attention to the goings-on of last year is vital but caring for ourselves is as important as ever. Here are some tips from our favorite yoga instructor, Dani Schenone.
Have you been feeling it? The big emotion floating around the last year is the Big Anxiety. Coupled with the stress of what the COVID-19 pandemic has bought for millions of people, disturbed wellness routines, and worry, we have a recipe to create massive damage to ourselves. Adjusting to the new normal, with social distancing practices in place and adapting to precautions and routines, may be the root of even more anxiousness for many as we’re navigating uncharted territories.
If you've got those familiar feelings of stress and anxiety coursing through your body right now, you're definitely not alone. We get it. Times are uncertain, our mental health is taxed, we're doing what we can to reduce stress and anxiety in general, and relaxation has taken a back seat. It’s no secret that stress is proven to weaken our immunity, so now more than ever, it's important to relax, deal with what's happening, and find the coping mechanisms to help you reclaim your mental health and reduce your involvement in stressed moments. Let's deal with stress and anxiety together and see what we can do to reduce them.
Meditation will change your life if you let it. The pace of our modern life is at least ten times what it was just 10 years ago. Technology improved our lives but also created a more frenetic and stressful pace. If we decided to stop, breathe, and become more mindful, we would reduce stress and experience much more enjoyment in each moment of our everyday lives.
There’s always something to worry about. Whether it’s our career, relationships, dating, or trauma, we go through moments that bombard us with negative thoughts that can make us feel anxious and stressed. Our worries may often define our choices, our view of the world, or ourselves. This doesn’t mean they are faults, flaws, or downfalls—we just need to practice managing them in a healthy way, placing deserved value on self-care. Yoga is only one connection. Check out these seven yoga poses that can help your mind and body when you’re experiencing anxiety, depression, or overall stress.
We’re all guilty of our routines and habits running our lives at one point or another. We’re all guilty of being attached to our schedules and our to-do list. We’re all guilty of running on a loop every now and then. As the energies of 2021 continue to shift, we get to ask ourselves the intentions of why and how we are participating in the places we are participating in, the thoughts we are thinking, the habits we are cultivating, and the communities that we are a part of. This intention and mindfulness process can not only shift our own experiences but of those around us as well.
If you have found meditation to be useful in trying times, right now is an incredible time to also try virtual sound baths to receive the deep sound healing benefits. As many of us are processing a variety of emotions as a collective—stress, worry, fear, anxiety, uncertainty—we can start to cause long-term damage to our bodies, especially to our immune and nervous systems. Giving ourselves self-care in a way that is easy, non-intrusive, and simple, can be the perfect way to help your body restore.
These resources aren’t the only thing we have to help you deal with stress—they’re just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, there are tons of classes available to you on the Mindbody app and through Mindbody Flex to help you reignite your calm whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed. And always remember, at the end of the day, your best is always good enough.