So you’ve been inspired – by your fav InstaYogi, friend, mom, doctor, or anyone else – to try cool yoga poses, subscribe to online video platforms, or order the latest leggings… Do you realize that practicing yoga can help you listen to your body more carefully, dive deeper into your mind, tune into higher vibrations and elevate your self-care too?
If you’re ready to go beyond the trendiness, insistence of family, or fabulousness of fashion, into the ancient science of yoga and experience of wellness, harmony and wholeness, within yourself and within your world – read on!
Having a consistent yoga routine has many benefits, but creating one may not be as easy as social media makes it look.
In this article, we’ll offer 50 tips and tricks to start a sustainable yoga routine.
Thinking of Starting a Yoga Routine
With new endeavors come learning curves – or an opportunity to look with beginners’ eyes and enjoy the rare occasion to be a clean slate, to find the fresh joy children live in, to be fully present.
And that can be overwhelming.
How do you know where to begin? What do you need? Which style do you choose? Can you carve out the time? Are you flexible enough?
If the thought of figuring it all out makes you want to quit before you even begin, you’re not alone and we’ll share how to make your launch a little easier.
Benefits of Starting a Yoga Routine
Yoga and meditation are all the rage – with rockstars, hipsters, athletes, scientists – everyone seems to have found their way to the mat. While TikTok or the latest in athleisure-wear may be the initial lure, we all stay for even better reasons…
Countless studies show that regularly practicing yoga and meditation can help:
- alleviate anxiety and stress,
- improve focus and concentration,
- release brain-boosting endorphins,
- reduce inflammation and pain,
- improve rest,
- elevate overall happiness and wellbeing.
The list of exponential benefits goes on! You can practice anytime, anywhere and you need very little equipment, if any at all, to do it. If you choose to go to a studio – usually everything will be provided and, of course, you will be instructed.
If you decide to dedicate yourself to practice at home (or anywhere else) – the possibilities are limitless. There are loads of platforms, teachers, and styles at your fingertips, online. And there’s no competition or distraction – the only yogi to pay attention to is the one on your mat.
You can sculpt your practice to suit your needs and schedule to receive what you need at any given time – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
While it may feel daunting to begin, the goodness of establishing a yoga routine is endless. Here are some tips to help you get started.
How to Set Up for Your Practice | 5 Steps
1. Your Home Studio
Whether you have a dedicated room or corner, or your “studio” is wherever you lay your mat, creating a sacred space makes it feel “official” and seems to allow permission to leave everything else behind and just practice when you’re there.
- You can make it feel like your own magical place by going all out and creating an alter complete with photos of gurus, statues of goddesses, mala beads, crystals, mementoes from travels…
- Or something less permanent but equally powerful – such as a scent and music. A few drops of peppermint or lavender essential oil in the diffuser and a favorite yoga playlist (you can find loads on Spotify) adds meaningfulness to your space.
- If you practice early in the morning or in the evening, you may find low lighting soothing.
A sticky mat is standard yogi kit. But you can also just drop to the floor!
Some classes request specific props.
- Blocks and bricks, which can be purchased online or in a local studio shop, or you can substitute a stack of books.
- Straps – also widely available to buy, or replaceable with a belt from your dressing gown.
- Bolsters – just fancy pillows! A few from your bed are fine to begin.
Props are super useful and fun to practice with – some yogis use them all the time, others never. Try them out and decide for yourself!
To help establish your sustainable new yoga routine, carefully consider the best timing for you. Are you a morning person, a night owl or will you be squeezing your practice into a break during the day?
Is there something you’re already doing routinely that you can “attach” your yoga practice to? This is a helpful way to create a new habit. For example, if you brush your teeth and wash your face (or have a glass of water and write in your journal, etc) upon waking, consider adding your yoga to this existing to-do list.
4. Duration of class
This is up to you. Remember that anything counts and you can always add on. It’s crucial to set achievable goals to build your willpower, confidence and sense of joy. Don’t over-commit at the beginning – 10 minutes is enough!
Choose your time and pop your practices into your calendar, just like you do important meetings and dates. Consistency is key to cultivating your yoga routine.
5. Type of Class
Experiment – plan to try an array of classes and styles.
Usually, it takes sampling a variety of options to discover what resonates with you. There are so very many styles of yoga, and unless it’s a set sequence with a stringent script, each teacher has their own spin. So if a class or instructor isn’t your jam, try another.
Easy does it – begin gently. If you’re practicing with videos, select your recording ahead of time so all you have to do is hit play.
- Yoga Nidra is a guided meditation ideal for those seeking deep rest, relaxation and mindful techniques.
- Hatha tends to be a softer, slower practise that is more accessible to beginners.
- Restorative yoga is restful practice in which poses are typically held longer and props are used.
- Yin is an even slower paced style of yoga that may help alleviate pain and tension, relieve stress and anxiety, and improve overall well-being in anyone – not only beginners, but those in search of peace or relief from over or underused connective tissues. The quietude of this practice can be challenge in itself.
- Vinyasa flow is more dynamic but comes in all flavors and levels. If you like to move and groove, this may be the style for you.
Ready to Start Your Practice | 14 Considerations
If possible, turn your phone off, close the door, let your roommate, partner and/or children know that you’ll be busy for a bit. If you do not have this luxury at the moment – whether you have youngsters around or are awaiting an important call – try to prepare for obstacles by:
- Mentally being aware that you may not be able to complete your practice as you would if you didn’t have to share your mat with a toddler/cat/etc – and being ok with this – truly knowing that just getting onto your mat counts and is enough.
- Having a few treats ready to offer your intrusive dog (or the equivalent for your personal obstacle).
- Wearing wireless earphones.
- Choosing a shorter class if you’re practicing with a video.
It’s your practice and the beauty of it is that you get to sculpt it to fit into your life, rather than squeezing your life into it. You can come and go. You can leave in the middle. You can lay on your mat the whole time!
2. On the Mat
You’ve created your space, set your time, chosen your class, and now for the moment of truth – the first step onto your mat…
Ask yourself why you’re practicing. For exercise, peace, play, strength, to reduce anxiety, alleviate stress, or perfect an Instagram pose – all are viable answers. Knowing why you’re on your mat or what you hope to gain from your time on it is powerful.
4. Beginners Mind
Approach your practice as brand new each time you come to it – because you’re different each time you arrive on your mat. Internal and external information differs immensely from day to day – amount of sleep (or lack thereof), what’s on your mind and in your belly, intention…
5. Step Away from Perfection
Chances are, your instructor has been practicing for a very long time. Try not to compare yourself or to lust for their effortless-looking transitions.
As you cultivate your practice and develop your strength, flexibility, and mindfulness, you will find your movement (and stillness) becoming easier and more graceful.
Yoga isn’t about mastering advanced poses, it’s about feeling good in your own skin. This is invoked by presence within your body, often guided by the breath.
6. Drop Self-Criticism
Choose to be kind and compassionate with yourself as you embark on the journey of creating your new routine. Being critical tends to impede progress and take you out of the present moment, which is where the magic happens.
Even the most experienced practitioners struggle with their routine sometimes – yoga philosophy tells us to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
Yoga teaches us to “listen to our body.” In the beginning, it can be hard to “hear” ourselves. Allow your body the joy of feeling as physically as good as it possibly can – trusting that the emotional and energetic will follow.
Get to know your body’s boundaries by becoming aware of uncomfortable sensations. Yoga teaches us to become comfortable with discomfort – a lesson to take off the mat. On the mat, this means we might tip-toe to our edge, but not push ourselves over it into places of pain or pinching.
Pain often feels sharp and hot or cold. Discomfort is usually a dull sensation luring us away from a pose. No one else knows exactly how you feel, so it is crucial for you to be present and discern between sensations to know when to soften into a posture and when to gently move out of it. Likewise with transitions between postures.
If you’ve been practicing one particular class or style, consider switching it up!
9. Trust your Body
Go solo! Just unroll your mat and trust your body to move the way it inherently knows to receive exactly what it needs. Taking your mind out of the equation is yoga.
10. Breathwork and Meditation
Try a few minutes of coherent breathing (or Sama Vritti) where the length of the inhalations matches the length of the exhalations. Or choose a guided pranayama practice.
Focusing on the breath is an excellent meditation in itself, and there are tons of other styles and guided options for all sorts of situations and needs.
11. Make it Happen
Just do it. Trust the process and enjoy it. If it’s not at least a little bit fun, change it! Perhaps a new teacher, class or playlist will do the trick. For more drastic inspiration – try treating yourself to a new mat!
And if you’re ready for more, consider diving into a book, mini-course, or article on a yoga topic that’s piqued your interest.
12. Let Yourself Off the Hook
Chances are you’ll miss a practice here and there. It’s ok. Just come back when you’re ready to recommit. Yoga will always welcome you.
Recording your experience immediately after can be a powerful addition to your practice, as often things come up – memories, questions, answers, ideas, bursts of creativity… And it can become a useful resource for yourself – a library of custom-designed yoga prescriptions.
Consider noting the time of day and duration of practice, style, teacher (if you had one), additions (such as music, props, scents, etc), likes, dislikes, challenges, easy parts, epiphanies, observations (physical, emotional, spiritual), mood before and after, and most of all how you felt following your practice.
Your practice, your way. Set yourself up for sustainable success by creating a yoga routine you enjoy.