Since the pandemic hit my city, New York, in March, the one activity that’s kept me semi-grounded during these dark times is my yoga practice. I’m not someone who a year ago would’ve identified with the phrase yoga practice. But this is 2020, nothing makes sense, everything makes sense, and an unexpected, hopefully longterm side effect of this madness is that I’ve become a far fitter person, thanks to Zoom yoga classes. I’ve also taken the past few months as an opportunity to optimize my available space by assembling the requisite yoga props and products and mixing the perks of being in a studio with the perks of not being in one.
It’s funny—some of my friends scoff at remote yoga and say doing it at home “isn’t the same.” That’s precisely why I like it so much. Since college, studio yoga has frustrated me, which is partly why I never developed a routine until now. Yes, I find beauty in moving in unison with a community of people, and yes, I miss hands-on adjustments and doing partnered poses with people who aren’t animals (i.e., my cat).
That aside, doing yoga with a group, especially in a big city, has a lot of downsides. For every positive memory, there are more memories of $ 25-a-pop packed classes, someone’s foot in my face, the scent of strangers’ sweat soaked into my rented mat, close-ups of hair carpeting the floor. I also spent too much time in my own head—worrying about whether I’d made offensive noises and comparing my poses, my body, even my clothes, to everyone else’s instead of focusing on myself, my needs, my practice, on getting out of my head—which, theoretically, is what doing yoga is all about, right?
Without these physical and mental distractions, when it’s me and my mat alone, I find far more clarity. I revel in my ability to TAKE UP SPACE. In the security of my apartment, I have wiggle room. Literal room to wiggle! Wiggle and swan-dive and swivel my body every which way that feels good or right. No one cares if I do Sun Salutations wearing a janky old bra (or NAKED!… This hasn’t happened yet, but someday). I can practice whenever I want, pump my own playlist, sloppily chug water, take bathroom breaks, fart with abandon, laugh, and lie in Savasana as long as I like.
For me, yoga at home is freeing. I feel more relaxed and sleep better after classes, even short ones. And I’ve found a range of things that help deepen my practice and enhance my yoga sessions, from soothing essential oil scents to a fan that blows directly on me as I flow. Below, let me share my suggestions for products that will hopefully provide the same positive YFH experiences for you as they have for me.