Here we go again, you think to yourself as you roll out your mat and set up for yet another home yoga practice. For months this is all you’ve been able to do, thanks to the pandemic halting most in-studio yoga classes.
During this time it’s important to think outside the box and find your own way to maintain unique elements in your solo practice. This includes staying in tune with what your body may be asking for on any particular day. The multitude of online yoga classes includes options from meditation to strength building, but adding DIY aspects also gives you the liberty of tweaking your practices in new and exciting ways.
Here are some ways to infuse variety into your practice—get creative with how you pair them with your favorite pre-recorded or livestream classes.
Zoom calls and video chats have become essential for staying in touch with friends during this time. While you can’t pick up your BFF on your way to your favorite Thursday night yoga class, you can coordinate a time to virtually practice together, whether by watching the same class online or taking turns leading the practice. It may feel strange at first, but the sense of comradery from sharing the moment with someone else will remain long after the practice is over. Everyone connects in different ways, but for long-distance friends and family, this can be a way to share a tangible experience with one another and spend an intentional hour together. It will also provide a new element to your practices and may even become a beloved shelter-in-place hobby for both of you.
Taking a moment to unwind in the evening is difficult these days, especially for people working remotely who no longer get a change of scenery between home and the office. Maybe you typically practice yoga in the morning or right after work, but waiting until the sun has finally set and the moon is high in the sky can set the stage for a different kind of practice.
Practicing by moonlight—whether you take your mat outside or simply turn off all the lights in your home—can have a grounding effect, especially as it provides a break from the blue light we’re usually showered in by our digital devices. There’s also a calming effect that comes along with a lunar practice, and that can both physically and mentally prepare you for a good night’s rest.
Give this practice a chance before bed and revel in all nature has to offer through an evening lens from your backyard, balcony, or living room.
Ditch your usual athleisure wear and go natural. The naturalist approach can inspire us to embrace our bodies just as they are from the comfort of home. If you’re leading your own practice, or practicing a standard online class, you might consider setting a body-positive intention before you begin, such as, “Today I will show gratitude to my physical self and all it is capable of achieving.” You could also find online practices that are specifically geared toward joyful appreciation for all bodies. Exploring clothes-free practices can be great for boosting self-esteem and helping us reconnect with the more organic, authentic side of ourselves.
Why not tweak your practice to include your four-legged roommate (if you have one)? Doga, dog yoga (cats are also welcome, or whichever beloved pet species lives with you!), varies for each pet and owner duo, but the idea behind it is the same: to create space for each other on your mat.
Maybe your pet is the curious type that watches your flow from a distance, trying to understand what you’re doing. On the other hand (or paw!) they could find a burst of energy watching you unroll your mat and enjoy the up close and personal view—plopping down on the mat to remain for the rest of your practice. No matter your pet’s personality, work to include them by holding them or resting alongside them (perhaps in savasana!) with these poses. This can help forge a stronger connection between the two of you and, at the same time, invite a new friend to your practice.
Through a series of trial and error, you can find which yoga poses work best. Being open to your pet’s curiosity instead of shutting them out to maintain focus can provide a joyful experience for both of you. Use your body language or words as an invitation for them to join your practice. No two animals are identical, so keep putting one paw in front of the other until you find what works best for you both.
As long as the weather is warm enough, you’ll be able to enjoy outdoor yoga classes. These larger gatherings can be held in fields or community parks where practitioners can maintain the recommended six-foot distance from one another. Wear a mask if you’re unable to maintain this distance, even if you’re outdoors, or wear one if that simply makes you feel more comfortable.
Living in the Chicagoland area, I’m preparing to remain inside for the coming winter, but the studio Bloom in Chicago adjusted their class sizes and warm-weather outdoor practice to ensure safety for all who attend. I look forward to attending one of these sessions come spring when the weather allows for it.
It’s definitely worth exploring the outdoor option if you’re missing group practices. At most studios, you need to reserve your spot ahead of time, so be sure to do your homework if you want one.
SUP is an abbreviation for stand up paddleboard, and SUP yoga is a true adventure. For this option, if you live close to a body of water or have the means to travel to one, you’re already halfway there. But, depending on the climate of where you live, this may be an option in January or one you wait on until the spring and summer months arrive. If a body of water isn’t accessible, or the one near you is currently frozen over, it’s still possible to incorporate some of the effects of SUP yoga by adding a focus on balance and core strength while practicing.
You don’t have to invest in your own board to begin—as the SUP trend has caught on for yogis and outdoor lovers alike, more and more locations are offering rental services for the gear. Try contacting local yoga studios or outdoor recreation centers near you to see if they can accommodate your dive into the SUP craze.
Using a paddleboard on its own can function as a full-body workout, but combining it with a yoga practice tests your balance in new ways. Once you’ve found your balance out on the water, try a simple flow or your regular practice to become adjusted. After you feel more comfortable, there are some suggested sequences for beginners you can explore that can be a fun challenge to try, as well as any pose you may often hold for an extended amount of time, like utkatasana or savasana.
Finding a tranquil spot with your board and gaining confidence with the practice may take some time, but the change of scenery and added challenges will likely leave you feeling invigorated.
Although in-person classes are definitely limited now, this time does offer a unique opportunity to explore other avenues you may not otherwise. Take a chance on trying something new and different, either one of the suggestions I’ve shared with you or one of your own. The sky’s the limit, and at the end of the day it’s important to remember that your practice is time set aside for you. Transform those moments into whatever you’d like them to be.