Years ago I was fortunate enough to travel through India and Nepal. Along my travels people would ask where I was from and what I was doing so far away from home, and, through conversation, my lifestyle as a yoga practitioner. I remember one such conversation where a friend asked me, “what kind of yoga do you practice?” Bikram hot yoga – a 90 minute asana practice in a room heated to 105 F and 40% humidity. The look on the person’s face when describing this process was one of incredulous bewilderment. “Why would you do such a thing?”
It is true that traditional Hatha yoga comes from some hot climates. It is also true that much of our modern yoga comes from practices of calisthenics, contortion, and gymnastics – mostly coming from Europe. As the British came to colonize India, these two forms of bodily development and preservation began to synergize into what we call yoga today in the West.
Heated yoga was made popular in the 1970’s, where in the beginning, a room was heated to a nominal temperature – 75 – 80 F. More heat was added to intensify the experience, until reaching today’s standards. This standard of creating an artificial environment to practice yoga, while certainly has its benefits, is also a narrow perception. Yoga can be practiced anywhere, by anyone, with or without anything – literally all you need is a body, not even a whole body for that matter!
Now that many gyms and yoga studios are temporarily closing their doors- maintaining a home/family practice is crucial for both physical and mental wellbeing. Here are a few tips that can help you set up a practice at home.
- Necessity is the mother of invention – let your creativity shine through with the intention of keeping yourself healthy and fit. Where there is will, there is a way. Your practice space might end up being a small 3 X 3 box on the floor in the living room or bathroom.
- Keep the same practice space. Making a routine and sticking to it is part of the practice. Familiarity creates a safe place where our minds can relax. A consistent space and time for practice will help set up and keep a home practice most effectively.
- Take away distractions. When setting up your space, ensure you will be relatively undisturbed – unless it is a furry creature that brings you joy and happiness 🙂 This means asking others to respect/honor your space as you practice. In this way, we simulate a method of isolation, which, in turn allows us to connect to a deeper sense of self and equanimity.
- Practice with your partner or family. Aside from your individual practice, also practice with your spouse, children, parents and relatives. This helps to create strong bonds and unity.
- Like it hot? It’s good to experiment with practicing at a cooler temperature, observing the difference you experience. But, if you really want that heat, there are a few things you can do. Wear a few light layers to keep in your body heat. Start with an aerobic activity or a breathing exercise that builds heat in the body (a short run, some sun salutations or Ujjayi Pranayama).
- Adding Heat and Humidity If it’s very cold, grab a space heater if you have one and warm up the space. If you happen to have a humidifier, bring that also into your practice space. Adding humidity however should be the least of concerns – likely the space will never feel humid enough.
- Lastly, Share! As we adjust to new environments and new experiences through a home practice don’t forget to stay connected. Share your experience on what works and what doesn’t work. Ask questions. You never know who else might be wondering the same thing – this online forum is a great place to share your ideas and insights.
We hope that all of this information was valuable, we would also like to hear your feedback, questions, or comments. Until then stay focused, stay healthy, and stay curious yogis!