In 2020, fitness and yoga studios in Michigan, due to COVID-19 and science-based public health mandates, were closed for six months, open for two, and have now been closed again for another month — with no assurance of when they will open again. When the pandemic started, outdoor activity was encouraged, but with the weather changing, we need to creatively innovate and develop new resources to promote both physical and mental health.
Local yoga studios all over Michigan, including the Creston neighborhood studio, Flip Dog Yoga
(my studio), were quick to pivot to online offerings since March with a range of services like classes, workshops, and more. Through these offerings, health and wellness centers provide community members with an opportunity to support local businesses that have been through it because of the pandemic, while also pursuing their fitness and wellness goals.
I often hear that online yoga is not the same; I know. It’s not. But, there are many benefits to yoga at home, too. No commute. No worries about feeling silly. The comforts of home are all around you.
However, with those benefits also come challenges. It can be hard to set aside time to take an online yoga class or to "close down" a home's numerous distractions so you can focus while doing it. I can definitely relate to how hard it is to recreate a yoga studio’s serene feel, as we have three children ages six and under one roof in our home. With this in mind, might I offer insights on some initial steps to enact when starting a successful yoga practice at your home:
1. Determine your motivation.
Many times we think that ideas like “getting in shape” or “caring for my well-being” will be enough to get us to make a habit out of fitness classes, but often they do not. I know that is not enough for me. It is worth evaluating why you want to do online yoga and getting very clear on what you hope to achieve.
2. Set a goal.
Setting goals works in tandem with your motivation. Be specific about what you are trying to get out of online yoga. Documenting a habit goal (“attend a yoga class every day for 10 days”) can be especially effective in helping you achieve consistency in your exercise/wellness routine.
3. Schedule it.
If you are like me, if it’s not on the schedule, it doesn’t happen (or even sometimes if it is
on the schedule). This problem is exacerbated by the fact that we are always home. Lack of consistency can be avoided by signing up for live online classes. Then there is a set time the event is happening, which cannot be pushed off easily.
4. Make a space.
This can be one of the most important steps to take. I find it is so easy to be distracted by things around the house unless you create space both physically and mentally for the practice. If you can create a permanent space for your yoga practice, great. But I know that’s not everyone’s reality, including my own. A relatively uncluttered space where you have enough room to lay out a mat can serve you well, too. Lighting a candle or creating some other mental marker of the time you have set aside can be a powerful tool to help you stay focused.
5. Get the equipment.
You can definitely do yoga on the bare floor (or a towel or blanket), substituting a hardcover book for a yoga block. That may, though, prove to be a hindrance if you feel like your setup is inhibiting your yoga practice. Your local yoga studio would be more than happy to give you recommendations on a good mat/block combo, hopefully for reasonable prices.
Here is one other note to consider as you start a home yoga practice. Many people think you need a pre-ordained set of body characteristics to do yoga: you need to be flexible, thin, or somehow already know all of the poses. None of that is required or even helpful. Know that you’ve got everything you need to do yoga. A good yoga teacher will bring out the tools you already have within yourself to successfully achieve your health goals for the coming new year. You will be able to accomplish your goals while also safely supporting your neighborhood businesses in your community.
Happy yoga-ing! I hope you find an achievable wellness practice that meets you right where you are and delivers to your home what you need.
Nick Dobkowski is the owner of Flip Dog Yoga in the Creston neighborhood of Grand Rapids. At Flip Dog Yoga, they believe that yoga is for all people. They help self-care skeptics move well, manage their worry, and believe in themselves so they can feel good about their body, tell their minds to chill (i.e. relax that actually feels like relaxing) and rest, confident in their ability to handle life. This January, Flip Dog is running two online programs -- Yoga for Brand New Beginners and Live Your Best Life-2021 -- that can help you get on track with your fitness/wellness goals for the New Year. Learn more at flipdogyogastudio.com
Photos by Tommy Allen