• Five Tips to Turn Any Room into Your Personal Yoga Sanctuary

    Walking in through the doors of a dedicated yoga center transports your mind and body directly into that familiar yoga zone. The atmosphere palpably impacts your sense. The dim lighting calms the nervous system and provides an antidote to the perpetual blue glow of phones and mobile devices. Sanskrit chanting acts as a portal to a timeless past rooted in India’s rich history.

    Incense wafts through the air and the smell ignites something within your subconscious. Each step into the yoga center seems to mirror the inner journey until you’re standing on your yoga mat, in the yoga room. And then, you’re ready to practice. You’re in the mood for yoga. That’s all well and good if you have the luxury of going to a yoga center for practice. But what about if you’re traveling and on a busy work schedule and all you have is your hotel room? Or, what if you need to practice yoga at home? It is possible to transform any room into your personal yoga sanctuary. There are some DIY methods to recreate the feeling of sacred space wherever you are. As a home yoga practitioner and a yoga teacher who travels and teachers, I practice at home and in hotel rooms almost all the time. It is a rare and happy occurrence when I find myself practicing yoga as a student in a dedicated class. I cherish those classes because they will me up! But, I’ve learned how to make any room into a space for spiritual practice. I’m sharing a few of my tips below. Feel welcome to adjust as needed and add your own tips in the comments below.

    1. De-clutter

    Ok this sounds basic, but it really makes a difference. If you’re unrolling your yoga mat in a small hotel room the first and perhaps most important thing you can do is to clean up a little. The same goes for shared spaces at home. If you’re thinking of making your living into a mixed-use yoga space, decluttering is crucial to give you peace of mind while practicing. The outer world is a reflection of the inner world and it will be exceedingly hard to relax and turn your mind inward when you’re surrounded by a mess. For a mixed-use shared home yoga room, try finding some furniture that doubles as storage. When you’re not using non-yoga items like toys, magazine, hats, or shoes, store them neatly away.

    2. A Nice Shawl

    This may be entirely personal, but I travel with a large shawl that I wrap myself in for meditation and lie under for final relaxation (called Savasana in many styles of yoga). This blue woven shawl comes from India and having this item with me brings a feeling of coziness and safety to wherever I am in the world. Yes, I realize I’m basically saying I carry the adult’s version of a blanket around the world in my suitcase. But it really helps create that feeling of sacredness for me.When I unpack in a new hotel room I take out my shawl and fold it up near the spot where I will practice and mediate. When you walk into any room at my home you’ll see blankets and shawls folded up and neatly kept over sofas, and most importantly, stacked in my home yoga room. If your yoga room is also doubling as your living room, try keeping a neatly shawls close by the area where you’re going to practice.

    3. Mood Lighting

    Changing the intensity of the light makes a big change in the feeling of a room. If you crack up harsh fluorescent lights it can feel jarring for the nervous system. Try installing dimmers in your home, or, even better, smart lights that can change both color and intensity. If your yoga room is also your home office, you might find that you like a pure white light during work hours, but prefer a soft white or even amber toned light for yoga and meditation. When I’m traveling there are not often dimmers available, let alone app-controlled smart light bulbs, so my next best solution is indirect lighting. If I’m going to unroll my yoga mat for practice and meditation near the bed, I’ll turn on a light in a different part of the room, preferably one with a lampshade. Or, sometimes I’ll leave the light in the bathroom on and partially close the door. It really depends on the hotel and the lighting. They key with lighting is to find the perfect balance between so dim so you feel sleepy and so bright so your nervous system is not able to calm down.

    4. Smells

    I love scented everything. Whether essential oils, scented candles, incense or good quality perfume. But that also means I’m really sensitive to smells. There is one scent that I’m very picky about when I’m about to practice yoga or sit for meditation—food. I’m sure you can imagine why. The last thing you want to be while practicing yoga or aiming for a deep meditation is to be hungry. Sometimes smelling food starts an automatic hungry reflex. Whether I’m at home or in a hotel room I clear out the surrounding scent with fresh air, either by opening the windows or turning on a fan. I make sure that all food items are stored properly and all dirty dishes are placed in the dishwasher or cleaned. Then, I’ll either light a scented candle, burn some incense or diffuse some essential oil. If I’m traveling and I don’t have an oil diffuser what can also work is to place a few drops of essential oil on a cotton ball. Then place the cotton ball near the fan or AC vent.

    5. Mat, Props and Cushions

    While I travel with a shawl stuffed into my suitcase, I do not often travel with a full set of yoga accessories. If I’m traveling and teaching I often borrow a yoga mat. Some hotels have yoga mats in the gyms. But there is a really great trick for yoga in hotel rooms—use a big bath towel right on the carpeted floor. Don’t let not having a mat stop you from practicing while traveling. Using a big bath towel is about as big as a yoga mat and will give you good traction and cushioning. For a cushion, grab a pillow off the sofa, chair or bed. For props, be creative—instead of a block, use a book or a bottle. Instead of a bolster, use a pillow. For your home yoga room, there is no need to go out and purchase the full set of yoga accessories. Instead, think consciously about what tools you actually use in your practice. Then choose the ones that will truly assist your practice and keep them neatly stored in a designated area along with your yoga mat.

    By Kino MacGregor

    Kino MacGregor is a world renowned Ashtanga Yoga teacher, the author of several yoga inspired books, including The Yogi Assignment, and founder of OmStars.com. Practice the Ashtanga Yoga Full Primary Series online with Kino to get started on your journey today.

  • Five Common Mistakes that Hold your Home Yoga Practice Back

    I saw the most progress in my yoga practice when I practiced at home, alone. When there was no one there to watch me I discovered who I really was in relation to yoga and I found out what this practice really was to me. When you face difficult poses without the guidance of a teacher to support your body, you are forced to find a way to make even what feels impossible work.

    Yoga really became an introspective journey of self-exploration after I got established as a home yoga practitioner. There are common mistakes that many students make when they’re trying to set up a regular home yoga practice. I faced many of them and I’m sharing some of my self-sabotaging moments with you so that you can hopefully avoid them.

    Decision Fatigue

    If you stand on your mat and have to ask yourself the question—what shall I practice?—you will have a harder time actually practicing. When you spend valuable mental resources just deciding on what to practice rather than on actually practicing, you can end up exhausted before you start. To alleviate that, try this. Instead of waiting until you’re on your yoga mat to decide what to practice, have a set routine that you do every day. If you practice Ashtanga Yoga then this is already there for you in the repetition of the same series of poses every day. But, if you’re looking to establish a home yoga practice with the support of online videos, that’s something else. Set time aside on Sundays to choose one video that you’ll practice for the week and then practice with that video every day for the whole week. So many people want something new each time they get on their mats. But if you only do a routine once you won’t give it time to integrate. Having a set routine helps you get better at that routine. Repeating the same thing over and over with intelligence targeted for improvement is the definition of practice. There are studies that show that reconsuming content relaxes the nervous system. Just think about watching a rerun of your old favorite show. If you cannot stand to do the same class every day, then try setting a playlist for one week of practice and repeating that week of practice for four weeks. At Omstars, we create playlists of the week to help guide students through their yoga journey.

    Distraction

    Let’s face it, being home is distracting. Between laundry, dishes, dust, and the mail, there is always something to do. Turn off messages apps and disable your phone function while practicing. If you use an online video streaming service to guide your practice, try setting the phone or device to WiFi only and quitting your messaging apps. That way you won’t get interrupted by phone calls during your practice. Don’t feel like you have to answer the door for every package that arrives. Some deliveries requires a signature, but most parcels can be left at your door. If you notice dust in the corners make a note of it, but don’t stop your practice to start cleaning. If you hear the ding of the washing machine, avoid the temptation to get off your mat and put the clothes in the dryer.

    Ease Friction

    Choosing your yoga clothes first thing in the morning can be daunting and lead to distraction. Lay out your yoga clothes the night before and place them by your bed. Then, the moment you get up out of bed put on your yoga clothes. If you like to shower first thing in the morning, they place your yoga clothes next to the shower so they are ready for you. Studies show that once you’re wearing exercise clothes you are much more likely to actually just do the activity. Similarly, unroll your mat. If you can in fact keep the mat unrolled in a permanent place that’s even better. But if not, then unroll the mat as soon as possible and go stand on the yoga mat in your clothes. At some moment the practice will simply start happening.

    Not Eating

    I know the yoga dogma says don’t eat before practice. This works well if you can get on your mat within an hour or two after waking up. But, if you’re a parent who has to shuttle kids to school before getting on your mat it can be hours between when you wake up until when you get on your mat. Trying not to eat before practice can lower your blood sugar and make your body too hungry to practice properly. The solution? Eat a small, healthy breakfast early in the morning that will be digested before you get on your mat later in the day.

    Going it Alone

    As a home yoga practitioner you may feel like island on your own. Your family may or may not support your decision to get on the mat from the beginning. Connecting with yogis in a virtual community can be a big support. Whether you decide to join a yoga challenge or get involved in some of the thriving online communities built around certain yoga channels or just cultivate a few friendships with fellow yogis that inspire you, building relationships in your yoga world means a lot. When a friend leaves a positive comment on your post it motivates you to keep going. Similarly, checking in with fellow yogis that you find inspirational can keep you motivated. Remember, it’s not about comparison and competition but genuine connection and community.

    What other obstacles do you face in your home yoga practice? Share them below!

    By Kino MacGregor

    Kino MacGregor, Backbending yoga pose, how yoga works

    Kino MacGregor is a world renowned Ashtanga Yoga teacher, the author of several yoga inspired books, including The Yogi Assignment, and founder of OmStars.com. Practice the Ashtanga Yoga Full Primary Series online with Kino to get started on your journey today.

  • Practice Yoga Online with OMstars – Your Yoga Network

    As more and more people become aware of the benefits of yoga, more and more people are starting to look for places to practice yoga online. Even though there are plenty of yoga studios in communities all around the world, many people still prefer to practice from the comfort of their own homes. That’s where OMstars comes in.

     

    Whether you’re completely new to yoga or you’re already a dedicated yogi, OMstars offers something for everyone. From the free yoga classes that come with our regular challenges, to our entire library of easy to follow practices, meditations, wellness videos, cultural shows and more, OMstars is your go to place for all things yoga. Plus, we’re yogi owned!

     

    OMstars.com was founded in faith by world renowned Ashtanga yoga teacher, Kino MacGregor. Students wanted a place where they could, not only practice yoga online, but totally immerse themselves into the world of yoga, all from the comfort of their own homes. So, with a lot of hard work and dedication, plus support from Kino’s friends, family members, and the global yoga community, OMstars was born.

     

    The best part is, because we are a yogi owned company, we are not backed by a major corporation, or big parent company and there is no venture capital private equity. It’s just us. That means, OMstars is the only place where yoga is not only bottom line, but it’s truly at the heart of everything we do.

     

    We are yogis and we tell the story of yoga. From our at home yoga practices and yoga instructor interviews to our plant based recipes and our philosophy courses, we carry the heart of yoga with us.

     

    We make the tools of traditional yoga practice available to everyone and we unite ancient techniques with modern life.

     

    If you’re a truth seeker, we’re here to light the spiritual path for you, every step of the way, and we want to inspire you to dive into your yoga and start living the yogi life.

     

    We host challenges, and share free yoga classes that help us raise money for causes we believe in, so we can empower yogis to change the world. We are a force of change, a global yoga movement, and we are your window into the world of yoga.

     

    We carry the torch of yoga, lead you to the true light, and create the spark that sets your world on fire.

     

    So, if you’re looking for a place where you can practice yoga online from the comfort of your own living room, without being tied to a yoga studio; if you’re looking for an all encompassing platform that offers more than just yoga practices at home; or you’re looking for an online yoga community that’s number one goal is to share the gift of yoga with everyone; then you’ve come to the right place.

     

    We are OMstars and we are yoga.

    By Alex Wilson

    Alex Wilson is a writer, yoga teacher, Ayurveda Yoga Specialist, and the content manager here at OMstars.com