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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!
Ah, 2020—the year that truly put our sanity to the test. On top of that, something that most people use to navigate through a tough time has essentially been stripped away from us—our normal workout routines. I don’t know about you, but even skipping a week at the gym can send me into a tailspin. But several months of sheltering in place and being forced to adapt to this new normal?
That’s a different story.
While I think we can all say we’re grateful that fitness studios were quick to offer virtual classes when COVID-19 hit—there is something about constantly working out by ourselves that may trigger some of us to hit pause on our workout routines and start turning towards less robust habits. *Reluctantly raises hand*
The other day I came across a stat that really set off some alarms. According to a recent study, Americans are spending an additional two hours each day on their couch since March 2020. As of recently, I can say I’m totally guilty of a little too much R&R. While an evening of Netflix and wine once sounded like heaven on earth for most of us, I think it’s safe to say the repetition of this is starting to get kind of old. Also, Schitt’s Creek is over now, so I really don’t have any excuse to not dedicate my free time to jumping back into my at-home workouts.
I started pondering what made dial back my fitness routine in the first place? Was it a lack of motivation? No, not really. Screen fatigue? I think my Netflix history outlined above would tell you that’s a solid ‘no.’ Then it hit me—the thing that motivated me to stay on top of my fitness goals was being around other people with the same goals. Pre-COVID, going to my favorite spin studio and the local yoga hot spot was how I typically spent my social hour during the workweek. I realized the best way to amp up my at-home workout routine was to re-connect with my workout buddies and start doing virtual classes together to create that sense of community I craved.
If you’re also experiencing some form of live stream lull when it comes to your workouts, then getting a virtual workout buddy may be exactly what you need. Here’s why:
Just like in-person workouts, making plans to sweat it out with one of your friends motivates you to show up and be your best self. According to the Mindbody Wellness Index, 25% of the folks we surveyed said they found it difficult to hold themselves accountable to their workout goals on their own—and an additional 20% of people said a lack of support was responsible for missed workouts.
Everybody enjoys a little friendly competition, right? Maybe you have a friend who is a powerhouse at virtual HIIT—try signing up for a class with them to help you take your workout to a whole new level.
Getting a workout sesh in with a friend is the perfect time to try a new exercise such as virtual yoga or virtual barre. Trying something new can be scary—I get it. But by trying a new type of exercise with a friend, you can both give each other a confidence boost by acting as each other’s personal hype man.
Look, we’re all craving human interaction these days—and I know I’m not the only one who is missing weekly happy hours with friends. Luckily, fitness studios are getting creative with their virtual offerings post-workout, too! When we asked members of our MindbodyOne Community how they are keeping things interesting for their students in the virtual space, they said they are hosting monthly virtual wine dates to share fitness stories and personal victories. Not only do you get to drink wine, but you and your buddy get to meet other like-minded people at the same time.
As 2020 winds down (thank goodness), you have a unique opportunity to reconnect with your friends and take your workout sessions to the next level with a virtual workout buddy. So, why not start now? Book a virtual fitness class and encourage your friends to show up for you and themselves today.