Yoga can be a wonderful way to clear the mind, strengthen the body, and find a moment to breathe. There are some simple steps you can take to help ensure you get the most from your practice each time you step on your mat. In fact, that would be my first recommendation….get your own mat. Owning a mat can ensure that it’s maintained with proper care and cleaning. It could also be used as a form of self-expression like shoes, or a handbag. I have a dear yogi friend that swaps out her mat depending on what mood she is experiencing in a given week. You might even purchase a couple of blocks, along with a yoga strap. The cost of these items are minimal, and having them may motivate you to bring your practice home.
Clothing can also enhance your practice. You want to wear something that is made of natural materials, and forms to fit the body. This will allow for comfort along with freedom of movement. When clothes are too baggy it could create a hinderance for you, and your instructor. From time to time an instructor will check for proper form and alignment. If the clothes are hanging off the body it maybe difficult to know what’s actually taking place.
Always… ALWAYS… avoid eating right before class. Yoga is most enjoyable on a less than full belly If possible, eat 2-3 hours prior to class. If that’s a challenge then try a light snack…maybe toast with a nut spread, or half an apple. Your tummy will thank you.
Once you arrive on your mat begin to set an intention for your practice. Think of why you came, and strive towards your practice reflecting that intention. For example, if your intention is to feel more grounded. Then strive towards feeling all four corners of the feet in each pose. Struggling to find an intention? No problem, often times an instructor may give multiple cues during a practice. I recommend that you pick the one cue that speaks to your needs that day and implement it into your practice. If she says, “Breathe”, and it sounds good to you strive towards finding breathe with every Plank, Forward Fold, Tree Pose, etc.
So, class can get a little tough at times with all of those Down Dogs, Up Dogs, Half-Moons, or whatever else that might make you give a little sigh. When these moments arise check in with your thoughts. If they aren’t supportive thoughts, replace them with breathe. More importantly, if you have lost your form, as well as your breathe….for goodness sakes take a Child’s Pose. Yoga will unfold in a consistent, patient and loving practice. Pushing hard, going to places that you’re not ready for will only lead to injury and self-defeat. Be kind to yourself, and who knows if you take a Child’s Pose you just might inspire another student to do the same. Now, that’s powerful!
No matter what, don’t attach yourself to outcome. Just because you fall out of King Dancer today, doesn’t mean you’ll fall out of it tomorrow. Oddly enough the opposite of that statement is true too. Our bodies are different everyday, and no one practice will ever feel the same. Keep your intentions clear, keep your thoughts positive, and keep trying with a gentle, playful awarness…..everything else will take care of itself.