The benefits of yoga are countless. Research shows and experts know that it is far from your average exercise class. Yoga exercises can take a variety of forms, from weekly yoga classes to daily stretches and meditation, morning and night. A single hour-long yoga session can cost you around $15, so it is only fair to get your money’s worth. However, sometimes people may be shy to request a new yoga pose from their instructor or find that their mind is thinking about endless things that consume all of the mindful energy from your practices. Regardless of how or where you exercise, a few steps can help you get the most out of your yoga practice. So, without further ado, we’ll introduce you to some tips that can help you enhance the experience.
Think Beyond Postures
The physical positions and postures that you may have seen in your yoga classes are only a part of yoga. Traditionally, it has always been a spiritual practice rather than exercise. The postures you’re familiar with were originally created to make the body prepared for meditation; they’re not the sole practice. Expert practitioners maintain yoga practices that don’t rely on physical movement. Practicing and studying other yoga components, such as meditation, breathing, and chanting will help you find a new world of yoga beyond physical postures. Once you understand that poses are related to the higher meaning of yoga, you will improve your physical practice.
Don’t Practice in Class Only
Although most people start their yoga practice by attending classes in a studio or gym, practicing on your own can help you reach the next level. Even though instructors can be amazing guides, at-home yoga gives you a more personal experience and the confidence to challenge yourself. You will have the freedom and opportunity to try new things, take your time in the poses you love, and establish a routine that works for you.
If you feel intimidated by the thought of exercising at home, you can start with small and simple steps. For example, if you love surfing, you can practice yoga on your paddleboard with a little stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) session. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll get a recognized sup yoga certification and become an instructor. Practicing alone tends to get easier as you go along; sometimes the most difficult part is getting started. You can always start with the most basic poses, concentrate on restorative postures, imitate movements your instructor did in class, or watch videos online to prepare you to do it in your own way.
Reading texts and books will teach you more about the philosophy and origins behind yoga. If you don’t like reading long and notably dense texts, you can always read summaries and excerpts that will provide you with a helpful introduction. Many people find yoga as a workout or stretching exercise without knowing where the practice originated from. However, if you want a more in-depth overview and have a better understanding, studying texts and reading books can help you understand the history and philosophy of yoga.
Try New Instructors and Styles
If you want to make the most out of your yoga exercises, experiment with classes that include different styles of yoga with new instructors. In the beginning, you may not find an amiable teacher or your preferred style. However, keep exploring, you will eventually find what you like that will help grow your practice. Even if you do already have a class or teacher you love, looking for new styles and instructors can help you go to the next level. Every style provides something different and every instructor has a distinctive approach. When you expose yourself to variable perspectives, you allow yourself to acquire the best of each one and incorporate it into your practice.
Take It Slow
Nowadays, everyone is busy with a multitude of things in life. You may find yourself running into the gym a minute before your class starts and probably replying to a few messages before rolling your mat out. Whether you’re at the studio or at home, taking things easy will help you practice mindfulness. If you’re too busy on a specific day, don’t rush to class. Instead, take a break, go home, and relax. Go to class only when you’re ready and prepared to commit to mindful exercise. Ideally, you should roll the mat out a few minutes before your class starts and make use of that time to settle in. Once the class ends, take your time to reflect and try to hold onto the post-practice glow. It is wise not to get back on your phone immediately. Grab a smoothie, drink your favorite tea, or sit back and relax before and after practice.
Learn More About Poses
Every yoga pose has a certain technique that makes you avoid injury and acquire its maximum benefits. For example, your teacher in class may have talked about making sure your knee is placed in a specific way or your hands should be shoulder-distance apart while doing the downward-facing dog. Plenty of adjustments and details can improve your poses. Unfortunately, regular classes don’t always cover them all.
This is when the internet proves useful as it is full of resources and videos that illustrate major poses, demonstrate proper alignment, and provide tips on doing them right. Take some time to watch videos or read about different poses to ensure that you’re doing them correctly and back up what you learn in class. Moreover, practicing in front of a mirror can help you check your alignment. Taking pictures of yourself to see what your pose looks like in variable positions can also be helpful.
Although yoga has several benefits that experts and practitioners swear by, attending classes is not the only way to make you feel blissful and enthusiastic. If you always feel like one class can be your gate to mindfulness while another is a struggle, there are multiple things you can do to help you get the most out of your entire yoga practice. Save the listed tips and apply them to achieve maximum results.
Photo by Carl Barcelo on Unsplash
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