Yogi approved by Keira Shepherd, Certified Yoga Instructor with a 1st Class Honors in Education Studies.
So you’re looking to take your Ashtanga practice into your home? The great news is that although this style of practice is complex and may feel like it requires a guide or a teacher, you can absolutely practice Ashtanga yoga at home.
Ashtanga yoga was initially designed to be practiced six days per week, so actually, it may well be more comfortable to take your practice home! It’s unlikely that your local studio offers Ashtanga classes every day, and even if it does, that much studio attendance may be tricky to fit in around your schedule.
There’s a beauty in practicing Ashtanga yoga at home in that you’ll learn the sequence off by heart much faster than you would if joining a teacher-led practice. Think of it this way – satellite navigation can quickly get us to our destination, but we’ll never learn the way.
If you take the time to follow the road signs and understand the different streets, you’ll memorize the route much more effectively. A complex yoga sequence is the same!
An at-home Ashtanga practice will save you time, money, and help you to advance in your practice. By learning the flow like the back of your hand, things like travel and studio closures won’t mean that your practice has to take a holiday too – you’ll be able to take your Ashtanga practice everywhere with you!
All you need is a little commitment, preparation, and enough space for your yoga mat.
Read on for our best tips on how to practice Ashtanga yoga at home.
Traditionally, Ashtanga yoga is supposed to be practiced early in the morning and with a plant-based diet. Why not go all in and commit to a full lifestyle makeover?
Practicing yoga, waking up early, and eating a plant-based diet are three things that will give you more energy, increase your productivity, and generally make you feel incredible. You might find that your daily Ashtanga yoga practice is easier to commit to when you complete it first thing in the morning, and your body will benefit hugely with a combination of daily yoga and a plant-based diet.
Have a look here for some great tips on how to feel amazing during your morning practice.
Try practicing yoga on an empty stomach and follow with a plant-based breakfast!
We’ve already mentioned that Ashtanga yoga is designed to be practiced six days a week – it’s a great idea to try and commit to that. Daily practice will help you improve, but it will enable you to memorize the flow in less time and make yoga a part of your daily routine that you genuinely don’t want to miss!
Practicing yoga every day is one of the most effective ways to reap the benefits. Daily practice of yoga, in general, will lead to increased strength, greater flexibility, and an improvement in your mindset – the benefits are endless!
Create a Clean Space
Have a quick tidy of the room that you’ll be using to practice before you start. There’s nothing worse than muddy footprints, a pile of unwashed dishes, or general clutter to distract you from your yoga practice. This is especially true with more challenging yoga styles as, more often than not, we’re looking for an excuse to stop.
That being said, a little mess can also be a great lesson in internalizing your focus and ignoring your environment. You might find that the more you practice, the less you need to clean your yoga space – though it’s always motivating to have a reason to stay on top of housework!
Feeling inspired? Check out our guide on creating an outdoor yoga space at home! 🧘♀️
Attend Some Classes
Attending some classes (either online or in-person) is a great way to start your Ashtanga practice if you’re a beginner to this style of yoga. Teachers have great wisdom and gems of knowledge regarding particular poses or breathing techniques – advice that you can take home with you to help you in your practice.
A class will also guide you through the flow to get a feel for it, without any distractions or pauses, before practicing alone. Following this, you could print off a cheat sheet with pictures of the entire Ashtanga primary series for a reference if you forget what comes next!
Limit Interruptions, but Learn to Deal with Them
Let everybody in your household know precisely when and where you will be practicing, and that you would like to be left alone. However, learning to deal with interruptions will always be part of a home practice – hello toddlers, the delivery man, and noisy neighbors. Don’t let distractions stop you from practicing, but use them to become more mindful of your body and how you feel.
Take away from outside distractions by setting up your yoga space in a way that calms you. Put some instrumental music on, light a few candles, and add a little of your favorite essential oil into a diffuser. Setting the atmosphere can really help you get into ‘the zone’ when practicing in a non-silent household.
Throughout an Ashtanga practice, we use our breath to count the movements, flowing from pose to pose as we inhale and exhale. This is one of the best reasons for practicing Ashtanga at home – not everyone in your local studio is going to breathe at the same rate!
Using Ujjayi breath (or ocean-sounding breath) will create a noise that can help you focus on your breathing and avoid spending too long in a pose – remember, the idea is to move continuously. Breathing with sound connects the conscious mind with the unconscious mind, enabling you to connect more easily with your body.
Practice with Loving-kindness
Yoga is about being kind to ourselves and listening to our bodies. Be kind to your body during your Ashtanga flow and don’t force it into poses that it cannot do. The goal is to reach inner peace by accepting where you are and enjoying the journey.
This also means being kind and forgiving to those that might happen to interrupt your practice. The objective is to de-stress and feel calm, and we’re not going to reach that state very quickly if we’re letting every noise irritate us. Remember, loving-kindness.
Use an Audio Class
If you would rather not get distracted with a video class but are struggling to get the hang of Ashtanga yoga, try using an audio class. This way, you can focus your mind on your practice and seamlessly follow the instructions – moving in a way that feels right to your body instead of copying what you see on a screen.
Audio classes can be a great option when transitioning from an in-person class to your home practice. They’re also ideal for helping you avoid looking at a screen first thing in the morning before starting your Ashtanga practice. We all know that the good intention of only turning our phones on to find a yoga class quickly turns into checking our emails and getting trapped in the rabbit hole of social media.
Don’t expect to practice the full 90 minutes of Ashtanga yoga with no mistakes on your first go. Start small, and build on your practice every day. This way, you’re less likely to feel overwhelmed by all of the poses or disappointed when you don’t make it through the full sequence.
Try beginning with the sun salutations and skip straight to the final poses to finish your practice. Once you’ve got the hang of the sun salutations, start adding more and more of the sequence to each practice until you’re able to complete the full 90-minute flow comfortably.
Find a Friend
If you’re finding it difficult to commit to such a challenging daily practice, why not find a friend to join you in your home practice? You could agree to set up a 30-day Ashtanga yoga challenge between the two of you to hold one another accountable. Contact each other after every practice to support one another and talk about how you’re progressing/struggling.
Having an accountability friend is always a great idea when you’re starting anything new and challenging. However, if there’s nobody that you can count on to hold you to your practice and commit themselves, it’s probably better to go all-in by yourself.
Enjoy bringing this challenging practice into your home, and remember that the poses are not the goal – bringing awareness to your body is! Full awareness and a deep connection between your mind and body can happen in any posture, so it’s not always necessary to practice the advanced poses if you find them inaccessible.
Go into your at-home Ashtanga practice knowing that obstacles will appear, but deciding not to let them affect you and your time spent in yoga. Know that your time on the mat will begin to inspire you through consistent and daily practice and guide you through day-to-day life.
Overall, remember that it’s a journey, not a race, and you’ll feel incredible once you’ve turned Ashtanga yoga into a habit and are reaping the benefits!
Keira Shepherd is a certified yoga teacher living in Toulouse, France. Originally from the UK, Keira received a First-Class Honours degree in Education Studies at Oxford Brookes University after completing her dissertation on using special technologies when teaching children with autism. Keira is a keen traveler and has spent a lot of time teaching various practices – such as yoga and scuba diving – worldwide. Now settled in France, she is a mother of one and shares her passion for an environmentally sustainable life through her motherhood blog.