You’re no stranger to yoga and aware of the health benefits, but you can’t seem to get that added kick that leaves so many others in a state of total zen. What are you missing, and how can you get it? We are all students of yoga and our experience on the mat will come down to how much we’re willing to invest in the practice. If you wish to continue your quest for quiet, here’s how you can get the most out of your yoga practice.
Set yourself up
A productive year begins with a great diary, and a delicious meal comes from a winning menu. You should adopt the same thinking when heading to your yoga class and bring high quality yoga mats, a water bottle and towel. By investing or acquiring new equipment, you’re sending a message to your psyche that this is something you value and should be treated as such.
Set an intention
What do you hope to achieve in this class, and how will your intention make this so? An intention is different to a mantra, as your intentions will change from class to class. Being clear on what your intention is will give you something to harness your focus, and hold on to throughout your practice. This is also a great way of reminding yourself why you are there. It’s not for a flat stomach or a Facebook tag, it’s to connect with your purpose.
Breathe, and out
At its core, yoga is a practice in mindfulness and breathing. If you manage to master the breathing, you are just about there. The general rule of thumb is that if your breathing becomes shaky or strained, you may need to ease on the pose. This is how your breathing looks out for you during your practice, so listen to your body and be guided by your core and diaphragm. Your deepest breathing will occur at the start and end of your class, but you should work to maintain a good rhythm throughout.
Don’t push yourself
There are no awards or prizes for being the most flexible. And those who can bend into all kinds of shapes once started out struggling to sit cross-legged. Too many beginners enter a class environment and believe that they have to push themselves into poses that their body is not ready for. This is not what yoga is about, and all it will achieve is bad form and worse injuries. Take modifications where you can and listen to what your body is telling you. There are a number of factors that impact our movement, and you may find that you are taking two steps forward and one back. This is normal. It’s a lifelong practice, so don’t race to a finish line that doesn’t exist.
You are probably receiving this advice from all angles, but it is most relevant when regarding your yoga practice. If you practice in a class environment, leave your phone at home or in the car. If you have a home studio, leave your phone in another room entirely. If yoga is mindful, your mobile phone is the complete opposite, and having it within reach will never serve you or your desire to unwind.
Yoga is an addictive phenomenon, and one that has changed the lives of so many. If you want a focused and authentic yoga experience, apply yourself to these elements and see how they improve your practice. You should always walk away proud of your ability to wield your intention and carve out an hour that is designed to inspire and align your mind.