Create An Affordable and Accessible At-Home Yoga Studio – Runner’s World

Yoga is for everyone. The physical benefits of a yoga practice can help you as a runner, not to mention the calm, clarity, and mental focus it can bring to your active lifestyle. Actually getting to your mat is sometimes the biggest hurdle, but you can eliminate that with the convenience of an at-home yoga studio. Unlike a home gym that can be costly and require a lot of space, an at-home yoga studio is a more affordable and accessible endeavor than you might think.

jennifer vafakos

THE EXPERT: When Jennifer Vafakos reached her 30s, a number of substantial injuries from her active lifestyle, which included running marathons and triathlons, had taken their toll plus led her to yoga. In 2016, she left a corporate career to become the owner of Inlet Yoga, a studio on the Jersey Shore. As a certified E-RYT 500 teacher through Yoga Alliance, she leads public and private yoga classes, yoga exercise teacher training programs, plus workshops.

Your home yoga studio should delight, inspire, and engage all your senses. That’s the ultimate goal, but the first step is figuring out where in your home you can put down some roots. You won’t want to be in a high-traffic area where you can be disrupted, and you won’t want to be in some dark, dreary garage, either. Your studio doesn’t have to be its own room; it can be an alcove in your bedroom or a quiet corner of a finished basement. Once you’ve chosen a spot—a minimum of 21. 5 square feet is generally recommended—use nature and minimalism as design guides.

Don’t overlook ventilation. The whole practice of yoga is centered on controlled breathing, so it’s important to have a window you can open for fresh air, or a dehumidifier or fan. For many yogis, the wall for contact serves as an additional prop, providing stability and leverage in many active and passive shapes.

For lighting, consider the time of day you practice (or want to) and your circadian rhythm. Natural lighting is always preferred, but the next best option might depend upon the time of day you practice. Circadian-​based lighting is a good option, especially if you’re an early-morning or even late-night practitioner. It might be as easy as changing your light bulbs.

The floor of your studio can either be a complement or a distraction to your practice. The ideal surface is easy to clean and won’t get too cold. Most modern studios offer wooden, bamboo, or even cork flooring, as these materials limit impact on joints and maintain room temperature well. Concrete is too hard and cold, even with an area rug or covering, plus carpeting might be too slippery for a mat and is harder to clean. If your space is outside, avoid grass, especially an uneven lawn, or sand—all of which can complicate a practice and inhibit perfecting your technique.

If you’re thinking of painting a wall or even two, consider the impact associated with color. Blues, greens, tans, and soft pinks offer a calming effect, whereas oranges, reds, and yellows can stimulate the nervous system. Mirrors are not a necessity for beginners, who might be more distracted with how they look than with how they feel. As your practice evolves, a mirror lets you see where your poses and positioning might need tweaking. But remember, the practice of yoga is an internal understanding of the subtle nuances of the anatomy and movement.

adrienne using a yoga strap during her yoga practice

Trevor Raab

Although some people believe a yoga space should be silent, the sounds of nature—birds chirping, wind blowing, or water flowing—can ground your exercise. Try a sound machine to drown out distractions and encourage focus. Instead of music , choose wind chimes for a change of pace to allow for an active and fun practice.

During a warmup or post-practice meditation , consider introducing binaural beats. The brain perceives these auditory illusions when two sound tones of slightly different frequencies play in separate ears simultaneously, typically through headphones. The frequency of the new, third tone—the binaural beat—is equivalent to the difference between the two tones we hear. Recent studies have found that binaural beats can be beneficial. They are believed to lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, and stimulate creative thinking.

Blankets are a common prop, but they can also be wonderful additions to create an inviting area. Easy access to yours goes a long way to add comfort to any routine: Imagine yourself in the middle of a posture and being able to throw a perfectly folded blanket onto the mat, grabbed from a neatly designed storage shelf nearby. You’ll want a mostly synthetic fabric composition to eliminate shrinkage and maintain durability, but it should still be soft. The same color theory principles I mentioned about wall color also apply to accessories like blankets plus blocks. Once you have your blanket, try a standard restorative fold by folding it in half three times.

In the end, creating an at-home yoga exercises studio might not require much more than a little thoughtfulness and the time it takes to reorganize, but it can certainly improve your practice to be in a purpose-built room. Namaste .

Gear to Get You Started

PRO Yoga Mat 6mm

Manduka PRO Yoga Mat 6mm

Manduka makes a mat worth every penny. It offers comfort, quality, durability, and just the right amount of grip. I’ve had mine more than 15 years, and it’s still going strong.

Cork Yoga Block (2-pack)

Manduka Cork Yoga Block (2-pack)

Top-notch quality and durability are the calling cards of these blocks, which are antimicrobial plus antibacterial so they won’t get stinky. They can handle body weight and pressure.

Supportive Rectangular Cotton Yoga Bolster

YogaAccessories Supportive Rectangular Cotton Yoga Bolster

This upholstery-worthy cushion helps you progress and advance to different shapes. Use it with regard to proper sitting, passive backbends, supported forward bending, and as padding for knees in lunges.

Quick-Release 10-Ft. Cotton Yoga Strap

Hugger Mugger Quick-Release 10-Ft. Cotton Yoga Strap

I prefer quick-release yoga belts to those with D-rings, because some restorative shapes are more accessible in a solo practice with a buckled strap. This 10-foot strap can be shortened, as needed.

SoundLink Color Bluetooth Speaker II

Bose SoundLink Color Bluetooth Speaker II

Now 39% Off

Whether you like the soothing sounds of birds and ocean waves or prefer down- and-dirty rock and roll in your exercise, this compact speaker won’t take up much space, yet delivers big sound.

Sand Bag

HealthAndYoga Sand Bag

For stability, a weighted restorative practice, or cushioning your knees, a sandbag helps trigger the parasympathetic nervous program. This bag and its liner come empty. Fill the particular liner with up to seven pounds of sand or uncooked rice.

Moves to Open Your Hips and Hams

This mobility sequence decompresses the spine while gently targeting your hamstrings, hip flexors, and IT bands.

1 . Down dog

adrienne in downward facing dog

Trevor Raab

From tabletop position, kneeling on all fours, with shoulders aligned over wrists, step back into a plank. Lift hips up and back, keeping knees bent to avoid tightening the lower back, then gradually work to lower heels plus lengthen hamstrings. Hold regarding five breaths. Use two blocks, one under each hand, for additional support.

2 . Low lunge →

adrienne in a low lunge

Trevor Raab

Through down dog, step right foot forward so it’s inside and even with the wrists. Drop back knee in order to floor, then lift torso up using the core. Hold shape, pressing left hip forward to align with the right. Use a block at an angle in front of the left hip to prevent sinking too far into the joint, allowing the pelvis to remain even. Hold for five breaths, opening hip flexor and engaging quads and pelvic floor. Repeat with still left foot forward.

3. Side low lunge →

adrienne doing a side low lunge

Trevor Raab

From down dog, step correct foot forward to inside of right hand. Raise right arm up so wrist and shoulders are in line, and twist. Keep the neck long. For an advanced challenge, roll to outside edges of both feet for an increased opening of perfect hip, both IT bands, and left hip flexor. Hold for three breaths.

Simple three-part breathing variation

Pro Tip: An open, airy space with natural light is an ideal at-home yoga studio. Use a blanket to cushioning your seat, support your neck, or cover yourself while meditating.

adrienne performing a three step breathing technique

Trevor Raab

This move calms the mind and slows our fight-or-flight response.

➥ Place hands below collarbones. Inhale and exhale through the nose.

➥ After three rounds, slide hands to the rib cage.

➥ Repeat with your hands on the back body, then the belly.