Getting the Most out of Your Yoga Practice
Yoga is one of the most popular forms of exercise, and people take it up for various reasons. That reason may even be entirely random, and that’s perfectly fine too. Whatever your intent may be, once you start learning yoga, you’ll find yourself embarking on a journey. You’ll discover there are different elements to it, and its profound, philosophical essence. It could be a life-changing journey.
But right now, you’re at square one. Beginning is always the toughest, but it’s also an incredibly unique position of curiosity, novelty, and openness. Here are some useful hacks to help you when you’re starting your yoga experience and aren’t sure where to begin.
Don’t go at it alone
There are some truly amazing YouTube channels, books, and other resources out there that you can learn a lot from, but when you’re just starting out, having a mentor is really important. I personally think that going to a studio and taking classes is something every beginner needs to do.
Your yoga teacher will help you ease into the journey and give you invaluable advice. They’ll be able to correct you and give you useful tips for each pose based on your body structure and personal conditions. If you want to do yoga alone at home, your time at the studio will provide a much-needed foundation for going at it alone.
Get yoga-friendly clothes
What you wear during practice makes a lot of difference. You need clothes that are comfortable and allow for free, fluid movement. While you may think you’re most comfortable in baggy clothes, you’ll find they’re quite obstructive to the practice because your limbs get caught up. And it’s not only about the comfort – what you wear is another factor that shapes each yoga experience. So go for those hot yoga pants, because they’re not only a practical choice, but wearing clothes that make you look good also makes you feel good and helps you get into it. You can also get gear to enhance your exercise. For example, sauna suits can be worn when doing yoga to help you break into a sweat and achieve that hot-yoga effect in room temperature.
Recognize intent, but don’t get caught up with expectations
Yoga and meditation go hand-in-hand. One thing we learn from meditation is to let go of expectations during the practice.
When you come to practice thinking you have to experience certain things or achieve certain results, you end up shutting your mind off to the process. So you might find yourself fixating on questions such as “Am I doing this pose right?” or “Am I supposed to be relaxed now?” And, as it goes, this kind of mindset of “hard focus” just ends up making it more difficult to actually be present in the moment, so your mind can spin off in a frenzy of other, much less relevant, thoughts.
It’s important to realize your intentions. Acknowledge the reason you’ve decided to take up yoga – but be ready to accept that this reason may change. Come to class with an open mind. Let go of expectations for the class and give yourself in to the process.
Study the asanas (and enjoy doing it)
It’s really part of the process – easing into your newfound yoga practice, both with body and mind, outside of your exercise. You have a neat resource for learning yoga postures here that you can use. If you like to draw, for example, you can draw the poses as you study them, both to help you learn and to enjoy the process. When you learn the pose names, you’ll have a different experience and a more natural flow in class because you’ll be more in sync with the teacher’s instructions.
Use these hacks to start off on the right foot and create a ritual around your practice. Open your mind, listen to your body, and enjoy the process.
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