Remote work has become the new normal. Social isolation protocols mean that most of us are spending our time in what might be less-than-ideal circumstances: added stress, possible financial concerns and maintaining work-life balance when everything is happening at home.
Since we’re extremely passionate at Rise People about employee mental health and promoting wellness in the office (our team has written lots of articles on Mental Health and Wellness in the Workplace and Employee Wellness Programs), we reached out to our Recruiter/HR Generalist Janelle Dupont for advice on practicing yoga at home.
Janelle is a yoga instructor, and before COVID-19, she frequently hosted yoga classes during lunch at our office. We’ve kept up the practice using Google Hangouts, so that everyone can participate from home in lunchtime yoga and continue to benefit from guided physical exercise and stress relief.
The benefits of doing yoga (wherever you are)
One of the reasons yoga has become extremely popular is that it provides both mental and physical health benefits.
Yoga can help reduce muscle tension and sharpen your concentration, which is why Janelle recommends doing yoga in the morning or at lunch to boost your productivity.
However, yoga in the evening can help you unwind from the workday. Yoga is a flexible (pun intended) practice. It’s about finding a routine that benefits you, no matter where you are or what time of day or your level of experience.
What you need to start doing yoga at home
When you’re doing yoga at home, all you really need is a yoga mat or even a rug that’s thick enough to provide you with enough cushioning. As you progress into more complex yoga poses, you can purchase additional props (such as yoga blocks) if you want.
The key to creating a yoga studio at home is figuring out what works for you. It could be as simple as moving some small furniture out of the way, closing the curtains, putting on some music, lighting a scented candle…essentially, it’s about creating a space that gets you in the right mindset.
Easy yoga poses for beginners
Janelle’s best advice for anyone starting out with yoga is to be playful. You don’t need a structured sequence to reap the benefits of practicing yoga. You can invent your own sequence and improvise if you forget parts of it.
Yoga doesn’t require a lot of time. You don’t have to do an hour for each session. If you do 15 minutes and you feel good, then that counts as a successful yoga session.
Every day is different. Move at your own pace and you’ll learn what you need and what kind of yoga you want to do, power or restorative or something in between. Don’t get discouraged. If it doesn’t work out one day, tell yourself you’ll try again tomorrow. Stay motivated and soon enough, you’ll be doing yoga every day as a matter of routine.
As you go through different poses, listen to your body. For example, your right side might need a hip stretch but your left side won’t.
Try starting out with these yoga poses for beginners. Click on each pose to learn more about it. When you’re ready, hold each pose for five deep breaths: Child’s Pose; Table Top; Cat; Cow; Downward Facing Dog and Rag Doll.
You can end your yoga session with the Corpse pose or the Rejuvenation pose. If you’re trying the Rejuvenation pose, Janelle recommends propping your legs up against a wall for support. Try to hold either pose for 3-5 minutes. Listening to your favourite song is a good way to keep time.
Janelle also recommends trying the Jivamukti Magic Ten, a series of yoga poses that can be done as a warm-up or by itself.
Consider taking up meditation at home too
Janelle loves meditating in the evening, near bedtime, to prepare for a restful night.
If you want to try meditation, start with 2-3 minutes and work your way up to lengthier sessions. While meditating, you can sit or lie down on a hard surface such as the floor cushioned by a rug or your yoga mat.
You can meditate in silence or have music playing (try to play something soothing such as chanting or acoustic music or acapella). Set an alarm on your phone on low volume to mark the end of your meditation session.
If your mind wanders, acknowledge the thought and return to meditating. If you’re finding it hard to stop yourself from thinking, try a mantra or count your breaths.
Resources to help you practice yoga or meditation at home
Many yoga studios are offering virtual classes right now or you can find yoga instructors on YouTube. Here are a few YouTube yoga instructors that Janelle recommends:
Rachel Scott (Janelle’s own yoga teacher, back in the day)