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How to Start a Home Yoga Practice

It doesn't take much to start a yoga practice. All you really need is yourself and a good instructor or a good set of instructions. Don't worry about not being fit or flexible enough to give it a try. If you can breathe, you can practice.

How I began yoga

I had been wanting to try yoga since I was a teenager. On a few occasions I had checked out yoga DVDs from the library and I had even bought one. 

It was difficult for me to stay dedicated to it. Looking back on it now, I think it was because it was difficult for me to relate to the instructor on the video. If I remember correctly, in one of the videos the instructor was Rodney Yee and in some of the others, it was thin women who looked nothing like me. Not saying that any of them are bad teachers. They were all obviously very well-versed in yoga and had been practicing for years, but as a beginner looking at these people, I don’t think I ever felt like I could move my body the way that they did when even at my smallest I still had thick thighs.

A lot of my apprehension about my abilities went away when I saw Jessamyn Stanley for the first time in a video that I saw on Facebook. Here was this plus-sized black woman physically doing all the things that I wanted to do. I didn’t jump into yoga right away after I first saw her, but after I began my fitness boot camp I decided to look her up because there weren’t many flexibility exercises included in those workouts. 

At the time, I had no clue what all yoga is or what it means. I just knew that it could aide in physical fitness and flexibility. Since I started I've learned that yoga is so much more than exercise. It is a way of living,  thinking, and breathing. 

I found a few videos of Jessamyn teaching on YouTube and decided to get my practice started with those few videos. I bought a yoga starter kit and created a playlist of my favorite beginner yoga tutorials on YouTube. The first time I attempted a few basic moves I felt like crap while I was doing them. However, my body and mind felt wonderful once I stood up from the mat. I was hooked. I’ve been practicing ever since. 

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Equipment you’ll need

I believe that no fancy equipment is 100% necessary, but there are a few things that are very helpful. The very basics that you’ll probably find useful are:
  • Yoga mat
  • Yoga blocks (at least two)
  • Yoga strap
I chose to buy a starter kit because it was cheaper than some of the other options that the store had at the time. Overall, I’m still happy with the purchase because the mat has alignment rectangles on it. The only thing I disliked is that it only came with one yoga block. However, yoga blocks are pretty cheap, so that wasn’t a big deal.
This is the one I bought:




As you progress through your asana practice you may be interested in using additional props such as a wheel or a bolster.

Yoga instruction

Although I include the few asanas that I know in the workouts I create for my online group and I post photos of myself attempting them online, I am far from a yoga expert. If you’re looking to start a yoga practice at home, you can learn a lot for free courtesy of the internet. I have bounced around different YouTube channels looking for instruction and have saved several videos.  The ones I started with were:
I also will occasionally follow along with SarahBethYoga, ChriskaYoga, and Yoga with Adrienne on YouTube. 

A great website that I reference is YogaJournal.com.  They have an entire section on their website titled Yoga 101 which includes a lot of valuable information about the history of yoga, the different styles, meditation, and everything else associated with the practice. They also have instructional videos on the site.

Since I love Jessamyn as an online yoga teacher so much, I purchased her book Every Body Yoga, which also contains a lot of useful information about the basics of yoga and plenty of photos of demonstrations of many asanas. 




Additional tips

Here’s an article from Yoga Journal that actually details how to practice putting together a sequence of poses: https://www.yogajournal.com/practice/if-you-build-it.

Also, if you’re going to practice at home, I’d say record yourself or at least practice in front of a mirror. 

I have yet to attend class at a studio. It is something that I’d like to do one day, but I’m in no rush. One of the reasons I post pictures online of my practice is because I was already recording so that I could see myself. I find it helpful to go back and watch myself so I can see where I may be able to improve. However, those few public pictures don’t scratch the surface of my private practice. 

Yoga has become very dear to me and to actually practice in a studio feels like it wouldn’t be as private. Maybe I’ll feel differently about it whenever I do attend a class. As long as I have ClassPass, it is still a possibility. 

In conclusion, a yoga starter kit, a yogi who doesn’t look like the typical yogi in the western world looks like, YouTube, Yoga Journal, and yoga books are all the things that I used to get started. 

Side note: I follow several personalities on social media that are fitness enthusiasts and yogis, but very few of them offer anything online. Heaven knows I’ve been searching for more of Jessamyn or anybody else like her and have been coming up short. However, those frustrations concerning representation can be discussed in a blog post all on its own. Once I started practicing and telling people about it, I had quite a few people either suggest that I teach or ask me if I would start teaching them. To be a yoga instructor involves a lot of hours of training and I’m not quite up to that level yet. However, comments like that along with encouragement from my trainer and my mentor led to me pursuing a personal trainer certification. As of this post, I’ve been putting together workouts that involve bodyweight exercises, asana, and mindfulness. I’m still working out the kinks, but I think I’m on to something. I figured since it’s hard for me to find representation outside of Instagram, that I’d create it myself. Stay tuned!







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