How to set up a home yoga studio
Setting up a space in your home to practice yoga is as easy as pie – you can get started with just a yoga mat and a little bit of room.
Whether you're new to yoga, or a more seasoned yogi looking for an alternative to your regular class, home-based yoga should be easy to integrate into your daily routine. Plus, you’ll be saving money by not having to pay for yoga classes.
Here we outline what you need to be able to practise yoga at home. We also give you a flavour of the different types of yoga, including hatha, bikram and ashtanga, and how each could benefit you.
Benefits of yoga
There are many types of yoga, but at their heart most are based around breath control and the movement between a series of postures designed to improve strength and flexibility. Some yoga types also include an element of meditation. All these aspects can improve your physical and mental wellbeing.
Studies suggest that practising yoga has the following benefits:
- More energy
- Increased muscle strength and tone
- Increased flexibility
- Weight loss
- Better all-round fitness
- Better breathing techniques and increased lung capacity
- Higher concentration
- Improved posture
- Better ability to manage stress
- Improved mental wellbeing and self-awareness.
It can also be a good, low-impact form of exercise for those with other health conditions. The NHS notes there is some evidence that regular yoga practice is beneficial for those with high blood pressure, heart disease, aches and pains – including lower back pain – depression and stress.
What you need to get started
All you really need to get your home yoga studio up and running is a yoga mat and enough space to move around.
The yoga mat you choose will depend on a few things, including the floor you’ll be practising on, and whether you want to be able to easily transport the mat.
There a few other accessories such as yoga blocks and balls available that can help with your practice; you might want to consider buying these once you know you enjoy and plan to continue doing yoga.
How much space do I need for yoga?
Yoga mats typically measure 173cm (68 inches) long by 61cm (24 inches) wide, so you'll need at least enough clear floor space to fully lay your mat out.
You'll also need a bit of room around your mat, as some postures involve extending your arms, legs or torso beyond the edges of the mat.
Ideally you would have at a couple of feet spare on each side of your mat. If the space you have to practise is particularly compact, you may need to move furniture around a little. At a push, you may be able to extend your limbs under tables, or over the top of sofas, to manage certain postures.
Walls are trickier to work around, though it's not the end of the world if you can't create more space, as most yoga poses can be adapted to take up less room (for example, by bending your legs rather than stretching them out).
Yoga for beginners
A common misconception about yoga is that you have to be super-flexible to do it. This simply isn't true; anyone can practise yoga. You just have to find the poses you can do and work on them over time; most poses can be adapted for different levels of strength and flexibility. It’s actually a great way to start your fitness journey.
Originating in India more than 5,000 years ago, yoga is an ancient, spiritual practice. The word comes from a Sanskrit word yuj, first read in the ancient texts of Hinduism and loosely translates as ‘to yoke’ or ‘to unite’.
It started as – and still is – a practice to join the mind and the body, but its physical benefits are also now widely celebrated.
Types of yoga
Hatha yoga is what most people practise, especially to begin with. It is an umbrella term that refers to a wide range of poses and breathing exercises, and covers most physical types of yoga people practise today, including:
- Ashtanga yoga – translated to ‘eight limb path’, ashtanga is not for beginners. It involves a demanding sequence of sun salutations, standing yoga poses and floor postures that should be learnt and performed in the correct order.
- Bikram yoga – typically practiced in a warm room, bikram yoga classes always include the same sequence of 26 yoga poses performed twice.
- Iyengar yoga – this focuses on perfecting postures and alignment. Most yoga poses will be held for a long period of time and refined using props. Great for people with injuries.
- Jivamukti yoga – includes learning a variety of yoga poses, incorporated with Hindu spiritual teachings, meditations, chanting and affirmations.
- Kundalini yoga – is a blend of breathing, meditation, chanting mantras and physical yoga poses. It focuses on physical strength and increasing consciousness.
- Restorative yoga – focuses on relaxing your mind and body. Props are used and yoga poses modified to be more relaxing.
- Vinyasa yoga – otherwise known as flow yoga, this is where you use your breath to seamlessly string a variety of yoga poses together. Unlike ashtanga and bikram where you stick to the same sets of poses, no two classes will be the same and many different postures will be used.
- Yin yoga – is more slow-paced. Most postures are seated and held for long periods of time.
At home, of course, you can either choose to stick to one specific type of yoga, or mix and match as you prefer.
- Hot yoga – can be a number of different types of yoga, but performed in a hot room.
- Aerial yoga – this is a hybrid of yoga, pilates and dance performed using a hammock.
Online yoga classes
If you are new to yoga and want to start learning at home there are plenty of free online resources on YouTube, including:
- Yoga with Adriene
- Yoga with Tim
- Sarah Beth Yoga
Just open YouTube on your computer, TV or tablet and search for the name listed above.
If you're an Instagram user, it too offers plenty of live streams to access from the comfort of your home.
However, if you want more guidance you can also pay to subscribe to yoga apps or online workouts, with classes led by a trainer via Zoom or other video services.