Fitness

Ask the Expert: How Should I Start Doing Yoga at Home?

Instructor Rebecca Pacheco lays down the basics of a home yoga practice.

Welcome to our Ask the Expert series, in which our panel of health experts answers your wellness questions. Here, yoga and meditation guru Rebecca Pacheco offers tips for doing yoga at home. Got a question of your own? Email jducharme@bostonmagazine.com.


Upward Dog

Rebecca Pacheco/Photo by Jonathan Pozniak

Question:

How should I start a home yoga and meditation practice?—J., Newton

Answer:

First thing’s first: You’ll need a space to practice. An entire spare room isn’t necessary—this is Boston, after all—but you should clear enough floor space for your mat. Remove as many distractions as possible, and consider lighting a candle, playing some tunes, or dimming the lights to set the mood.

Once you’ve got your yoga oasis set up, you’re ready to go—but start slow. “Follow a common sense bell curve, as you would for other physical activities: warm up, peak exertion, then cool down,” Pacheco says. “In other words, warm up with some sun salutations before you go popping off wheel poses and arm balances.”

Once you’re warmed up, “Don’t put pressure on yourself to recreate a full class,” Pacheco says. You don’t have to remember every single pose your teacher cued in last weekend’s 90-minute flow. Just pick a few favorite postures that serve your energy, and move for as long as feels right. (A 10 to 15 minute flow incorporating a few sun salutations, a gentle twist, and savasana can be enough.) And if you’re really lost, feel free to “cheat” by using books, magazines, DVDs, or online resources.

The same holds true for meditation, Pacheco adds. Work up to a home meditation practice with the aid of apps such as Headspace and Insight Timer, and eventually you’ll feel ready to strike out on your own. When you feel comfortable enough to meditate solo, follow these tips from Pacheco.

“The beauty of meditation,” Pacheco says, “is that it’s even simpler than yoga practice. You really can do it on your own before any special training in a class, as long as you’re willing.”


Rebecca Pacheco

About the Expert: Rebecca Pacheco is the author of Do Your Om Thing, an award-winning yoga and meditation teacher with more than 20 years of experience, an inspiring speaker, and creator of OmGal.com. She’s also the creator of the Runner’s World Yoga for Runners DVD, as well as With Yoga from Women’s Health. She has been featured by NPR, the BBCPublisher’s WeeklyHuffington PostYoga Journal, the Boston Globe, and more. She is the only person to have taught yoga at all three iconic Boston sports venues: Fenway Park, the Boston Garden, and Gillette Stadium. You can connect with her on social media @omgal.

Got a question for one of our expert? Email jducharme@bostonmagazine.com.