A Professional Yogi Says Now Is The Time To Start An At-Home Practice

May 29, 2020
In light of the coronavirus pandemic, fitness looks and feels differently right now, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. As ironic as it sounds, staying indoors can actually open the door for you to try new programs and practices sans outside judgements or gym phobias you might be harboring. And because an international pandemic is bound to bring up feelings of stress and confusion, it’s important to choose exercises that not only benefit your physical health, but that also cater to your mental health as well, like yoga. 
Contrary to the perception that whimsical posts of wellness gurus standing on their heads in designer leggings shape, yoga is so much more than just stretching one minute and striking complicated poses the next. It’s an ancient Ayurvedic discipline that connects the mind, body, and soul through a combination of physical poses, flows, and meditation. You also don’t need to be flexible to hop on the mat and begin. You just need to approach the practice with an open mind and an open heart.
To find out how beginner yogis can kickstart their own at-home practice, I reached out to Julie Weinstock, a RYT® 200 certified yoga instructor who teaches classes at Drunk Yoga® in New York City. 
Read on to find out how you can find your zen during this time and thereafter.
Q: Why is now the perfect time for beginners to start an at-home yoga practice?
A: Yoga encourages you to look inward and understand how you feel and react to current circumstances.
“One of my mentors used to describe yoga as “the practice of dealing with the consequences of who you really are.” It’s hard for me to think of a better time for people to get acquainted with themselves. 
Aside from allowing us to dive inward, yoga teaches you a lot about dealing with the unexpected. We can’t always control what’s happening around us (hello 2020!) but we can find our breath. We can choose to respond mindfully, rather than react impulsively. Another mentor of mine used to say, “Life gives us situations and we make them problems.” Yoga is essentially “How to Deal With the Unexpected 101.” How will you show up for yourself when things get tough?”
Q: What kinds of equipment or props do you actually need to start an at-home practice?
A: Start with yourself and a soft surface.
“The great news about yoga is that the most essential piece of equipment is yourself. Especially if you’re just beginning to practice yoga, I would say limit your purchases to a mat. In time, you might consider ordering a yoga block or yoga wheel. Until then, you can absolutely use household items to deepen your practice. To replace a block, you can use a few hardcover books or even a firm pillow. If you’d like, you can also bring in a blanket for savasana. (I suppose quarantine yoga could include a savasana Snuggie.)”
Q: What are some of the best resources beginner yogis should take advantage of right now?
A: The internet.
“When it comes to class recommendations, there is no “one size fits all.” Some yoga classes will get your heart racing, others are much more restorative. Yoga is generally a more introspective experience, but one of the companies I work for makes class about community and is centered around interaction. It comes down to personal preference.
For those seeking community, I recommend (and teach) Drunk Yoga®. Drunk Yoga classes are designed specifically to cultivate joy. No, you don’t actually get drunk! In fact, you don’t even need to drink to participate. You can choose from a traditional wine yoga class or even opt for coffee yoga. Fun twist: (pun intended) classes are led with beverage in-hand. Expect laughter and dance moves. 
For those seeking a good sweat sesh, I’ve come to really love taking Y7 classes. Y7 generally offers hip hop hot yoga. Yes, you read that right! While their studios are closed at the moment, you can absolutely access their classes on their website. Some classes you need a membership for (which comes out to $16/month) but they’re offering a free one week trial at the moment. 
For those looking to get their feet wet and maybe sample a few different types of yoga, I recommend apps such as Down Dog and even Peloton®, (yes, as in the bike) that are offering free trials to their users right now. YouTube is also one of my favorite resources for finding free workouts. Different people connect to different instructors so don’t be afraid to search around a bit for the class that you will most enjoy.
I personally am offering virtual (Vinyasa) corporate classes, and will soon be opening classes to the public. To keep up to date with my teaching, you can find me on Instagram @jwuless.” 
Q: What are some ways seasoned yogis can get creative with their at-home routine?
A: Listen to your body.
“I’m so sympathetic to those struggling to transition from studio classes to their living rooms. Yoga can be practiced anywhere but there’s something truly special about feeling the collective energy of a room. It’s what I miss most about teaching in person. 
To anyone looking to spice up their at-home practice, here’s my advice: If an idea simultaneously thrills you and terrifies you, that’s what you should be doing. That’s where your magic is. Yoga is much more than headstands or brand name leggings. Dig a little deeper. After all, they say the only way out is through.”
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