The accessibility and comfort with which we can begin a home yoga practice from scratch these days is almost incomparable to even just a couple of years ago. Those seeking guidance to start slow, keep it simple and enjoy movement as a supplement for whole wellbeing can find what they are looking for online – this not only means practicing in your most comfortable pyjamas, but moving in the most comfortable way too, at your pace, in the safety of your space. There is a liberating sigh of relief that allows those nervous shoulders to drop when you recognise that, unlike during your first encounter with yoga IRL, there’s no uncomfortable wrestling with unfamiliar equipment, no sense of being observed or judged in your body as it is and, best of all, no need to walk home in the cold – just roll into bed and continue that warm rest for as long as you have the time.
it is the way movement or held shapes feel that is paramount
For beginners, practicing yoga online can be a great way to complement other regular movement practices, especially functional sagittal plane aerobics such as cycling and running. Finding your way upside down into your first downward dog or cat/cow sequence can be taken slowly, paused, rewound and repeated as many times as you like – once you feel comfortable with the shape of those salient poses, you’ll be able to move through a home yoga practice with confidence and trust that your body knows the score.
Just as we chose not to have mirrors in the studio, here at Supply Online, we try to foster a virtual yoga environment in which the way movement or a held shape physically exhibits isn’t necessarily a priority, it is the way movement or held shapes feel that is paramount. We try to guide folks to experience the release, space and form of their bodies in whatever way feels right to them in that moment. The sensations you can identify in one practice might differ from those that you notice in another, even if you are moving your body in the very same way – give yourself the consideration of how your day has been, where you are in your hormonal cycle and how many life plates you happen to be trying to spin – because all of it informs our experience of our body as we pay attention to it during our mindful movement practice.
There are a few ways in which we can adjust some of the most familiar parts of our yoga practice knowing we each have our own version and that there is no particular standard to comply with. If you’re new to this stuff, maybe try some of these softenings to ease any pressure you’re feeling to ‘be able’ before you’ve even begun..
If it’s a relatively new experience to bear weight on your wrists in the way that we do in downdog, take your time to warm those joints, roll your fists a bit and maybe plant your hands on the ground and shift your body weight around to stretch both the inner and outer wrists and forearms.
Despite the symmetrical, angular, upside down V shape you might be forgiven for thinking is typical of a downward dog, yours might begin differently. Try a wider stance, step your feet apart, perhaps even to the width of the mat, oh and bend your knees as much as you need to so that there is less pressure on your potentially tight hamstrings. Forget the expectation to flatten your feet and root both of your heels to the ground – some hamstrings are unyielding, some achilles tendons just won’t allow it – work on lowering one heel and then the other by way of easing into a soft stretch that works for you. Breathe, feel the lengthening of your spine from pelvis to crown and the new sensation of release as the compression brought about by time spent sitting finally dissipates.
This familiar and often repeated spinal mobility practice is easy to daydream through, to make assumptions about – but there is much to experience here. Instead of emulating the rigid upward and downward curve of the spine as you presume is expected of your Cat/Cow, try thinking about the freedom that there is to be had between the fixed points of your contact with the floor – hands and knees – and letting your instincts commandeer the time that you spend here. Perhaps it feels interesting or useful to snake your spine from left to right, to undulate your chassis elliptically or to simply linger in one place or another that happens to feel relieving after another static day at your desk. Forget how it happens to present, in fact, close your eyes and tune into what your spine, wrists, neck, hips and wrists want from this movement and find some of what you need in the release, mobility and abandonment of rigidity that comes with fluid catting and cowing. Take as long as you need, you can always rewind or repeat the guidance – such is the beauty of practicing On Demand.
Using these (online) tools that have been developed with ‘new normal’ in mind means taking a closer, slower look at your somatic experience of yoga as a beginner, free from the inhibitions built up by the exclusivity IRL yoga has cultivated for some – particularly those of us that don’t feel represented in conventional yoga spaces. Practicing yoga online presents an opportunity to move freely, with comfort and without the question of whether one’s body ‘belongs’ or not. There’s no question that it does.
If you’d like to try moving with us On Demand or Live, sign up for a 7 day free trial and, if it feels good, subscribe for just £20-£30/month thereafter – you can upgrade, downgrade or cancel at any time.