So you want to start (or expand) an at home yoga practice, but don’t know where to begin? I can help with that! J
First, I’m sorry to say that I am not a certified yoga instructor so I won’t provide personal alignment advice. But in this article, I’ll let you know what accessories I use at home that helped broaden my practice and develop a consistent stretching routine. Starting with these home practices will at least get you comfortable in the poses I will recommend and with the support of these accessories, you’ll start seeing progress at a faster rate which will motive you to continue – or at least motivated me to continue.
First things first! Carve out some time in the morning or at night. You’ll need at least 30 minutes (not much) to really focus on this. If you don’t have that kind of time in your life and are not willing to make it, then just stop reading right now.
Otherwise, keep reading. 😀
By now, you know the benefits of yoga. I think I have shared them enough on my blog and Social Media accounts and you probably see and hear about them everywhere. To name a few: it increases your flexibility (flexibility isn’t a prerequisite), it’s a great stress reliever (read about that here or here), it helps tone and build muscle and a bunch of other stuff you can read through my blog.
Not to mention, I think at this point, we all have a pretty good idea that we need to fit an exercise routine or two in our lives. We’re not getting any younger and our bodies are certainly a constant reminder of that. If you are like me and get up out of bed in the morning and stuff hurts, or you sit down and make noises as you lower yourself then…you could use a few good stretches.
I have said before in this article you don’t necessarily need anything to start, but if you are willing to invest a few bucks to really get the full benefits and think you will keep it up, there are a few items that I use daily that helped me see progress. And these days, that’s all we really want, right? Progress.
I have compiled a list of all my go-to accessories along with links (click on the images) if you’re interested.
What are they? Rubber balls the size of tennis balls, but harder (done laughing yet?) designed to release tension in muscles through trigger point therapy. They’re basically like getting a deep tissue massage.
Why use them? Personally, I’ve seen the best results with these. I mainly use them for my hamstrings, glutes (my butt) and calf muscles, but have also used them for my back and shoulders. If you want more flexibility or to accomplish a split, these bad boys will help a lot. I sit for the majority of the day, whether I’m working, driving, or at home. Spending this amount of time with my legs at a 90-degree angle, of course, will make them comfortable in that position. So when I would try to extend them or reach for my toes, it was damn near impossible. Of course, the most obvious is to do basic hamstring stretches, which I do religiously these days to reverse the damage done from the day. But these balls actually penetrate layers of muscle and massages the deep areas to release the tension.
How do I use them? First, you should wear leggings and a tight shirt or sports bra (you’re at home anyway, so who cares). Wearing lose clothing will get caught under the ball as you roll and that’s annoying. You’ll need some space because you’ll be rolling around. Now, place the ball on the floor, sit down with both legs out in front of you and place the ball under one of your legs. I suggest starting at the top of your hamstrings right under the glute. Gently press/sit down, it WILL hurt, so ease your way down and don’t go rolling around willy nilly or you may hurt yourself. Find the pain points that are tightest, which are the areas that hurt the most and just gently press the ball into it, while breathing. Roll a tiny bit, not too fast or you’ll roll right off. Think of it like kneading dough as you move across your hammies. It helps if you bend the other leg to hold yourself up a tad and use your arms as well. It’s up to you if you want to hold it in one place or keep rolling, all depends on how much tension you’re holding (I’m sure it’s a lot). I’m happy to provide a ton tips advice on this, if you’re interested, I can write a whole post on this, but for now, let’s move on.
What are they? Literally just foam blocks, generally 3x6x9 in size. These blocks are best purchased in pairs since they can be used for arm balances. Other times they are great to support stretches so if you want to start with one, that’s ok too.
Why use them? If you want to achieve certain stretches or poses but can’t reach the floor yet, the blocks are there to “bring the floor” to you, which helps to get the alignment right, which is the whole point of the pose, so you’re not bending all weird and messing up your form just to touch the floor. It also helps you balance yourself in these poses as you hold on and are great to stretch out your back.
How do I sue them? This is where the internet comes in because I don’t want you to get hurt. But some of the poses that you may need support on are:
Please google these names and images to get the exact alignment
- Triangle Pose and/or Revolved Triangle Pose: This pose is amazing because it targets so many muscles for a good stretch. It’s great for the hamstrings, hips, and back and you stretch open your chest once you’re able to reach your arm way up (the block will really help with balance and reach). Great for lower back pain, and tight hamstrings.
- Half Moon and/or Revolved Half Moon: Another great one for stretching and balance and the blocks are especially needed here to keep your balance. This pose is great for alignment.
- Side Angle Stretch: Pretty much explains itself. Another great one for your entire side body.
- Bridge Pose: You can place this under your hips to support with this pose.
What are they? Again, literally straps. At first, I would use old T-shirts or towels. But these days I have actually invested in an actual strap. For me, the grip is just better than a shirt or towel.
Why use it? Support.
How to use it? If you sit down and extend your legs but can’t reach your toes yet, grab a strap. Loop it around both feet and gently pull yourself forward. This will help you get that stretch you want and start training your muscles to reach a little deeper than you would without that added support. Straps are also great for back bends and king pigeon if you can’t yet reach your feet, the straps will reach them for you, allowing you to gentle pull.
A few other items I recommend are:
The Yoga Bible
Don’t worry this isn’t a whole history and philosophy of yoga, it just explains how to do each pose and explains which poses help to accomplish more advanced poses. I’ve been referring to this book for years.
In case you want it all! This bundle includes the mat, yoga towel (for hot yoga), hand towel (not really sure why, but ok), strap and blocks.
In my next article, I will provide some links to my favorite yoga videos and instructors for you to follow at home.
Hope you found this helpful. Enjoy your practice and let me know if you have questions. 🙂
If you have specific questions or want to see more of something I mentioned above, let me know!