If you’re looking for some balance and inner calm these days – I know I am – yoga may be a great addition to your home workout.  A yoga practice can increase your flexibility, balance, core strength and restore a sense of equilibrium. It can also reduce back pain and discomfort, especially important if you spend a lot of time sitting at work, or in front of a computer.  Range of motion and hip stability improves, both of which can help you avoid injuries.  

If you’re a runner or jogger, you are primarily using your quads and hamstrings, which can leave other muscle groups neglected, leading to fatigue or pain.  A yoga practice will activate and help strengthen all the muscles of the body, leaving you stronger and less prone to aches and pains.  Yoga can also help increase endurance and strength, as well as improve posture and alignment.

Photo by Dane Wetton on Unsplash.

I personally use my yoga practice as an addition to the cardio, weight training and cycling I do. I’ve had a yoga practice for many years but if you’re new to it there’s no shortage of options to explore to get started even if you’re homebound for a time.

Until recently, I went to a weekly class and would try to get in a couple 15 minute sessions twice a week at home.  Since COVID, my yoga studio has moved classes online so I tune in that way.  If I don’t get in as much home practice as I’d liked to one week, I don’t stress about it.  My yoga teacher has a saying I like:  “You have the rest of your life to do yoga,” so I keep that in mind if I miss here and there.

Once you’ve checked with your physician and are cleared to start, ideally I like the idea of attending a beginners’ class a few times.  The reason for this is that an experienced teacher can observe you and assist with instruction and any corrections in alignment you may need. In yoga, correct alignment in postures is important to get the full benefit of the pose.

Since many live classes and studios aren’t available these days, the good news is that there are literally thousands of options online to get you started.  Over time, yoga has evolved from being viewed as an unusual, esoteric activity to the mainstream and has captured the attention of young and old, moms and dads, business owners, professionals, and students.  Because of its emphasis on the breath along with the body, it has been shown to help regulate stress, anxiety and depression.  Research shows that it can also help improve focus and concentration, memory, and restore a sense of mental and emotional equilibrium.  And if that’s not enough, it can also help lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease, and help build healthy bones.

If you want to give a home yoga practice a go, there are many free resources online to get you started.  Here are a few:

Do Yoga With Me (www.doyogawithme.com) has a vast library of free videos and an entire section devoted to beginners.  There’s a variety of different yoga styles offered, in addition to meditation instruction.  Donations are suggested but not required.

Yoga with Adriene (www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene) offers beginner videos and instruction, and a collection of different types of videos, such as Yoga for Busy People (10-20 minutes), Yoga for Uncertainty, Yoga for Focus and Productivity, Yoga for Hope, and many, many more.  Best of all, a subscription is completely free.

Yoga Journal (https://www.yogajournal.com/video) also offers a variety of free videos and instruction.  The site is also a wealth of information on yoga and the yoga lifestyle, including poses, meditation, breathing techniques and more.

I strongly encourage you to give yoga a try.  There are countless ways it can benefit your body and mind.  As a beginner, the only investment you need to make is a yoga mat, which can easily be found for under fifty dollars.  

Welcome to life on the mat!

Next time, we’ll talk about another favorite outdoor activity – cycling!