Do you want to get even more awesomeness out of each yoga session? Here’s a quick list of tips that I like to employ to make my yoga practice even more effective.
– Utilize scent during your yoga practice. Choose an incense, oil or candle in a scent that you find relaxing. Use the scent each time you practice. After a while, begin to introduce the scent into your environment on days when you’re feeling stressed. You will begin to associate the scent with calm and it will soothe you even when you’re away from your mat.
– Don’t do the same workout each time. Mix up your routine, trying a combination of classes (whether online or in person) and freestyle sessions. This keeps your mind active and engaged in the practice, as well as providing a greater challenge for your body.
– Be mindful of your breath during your practice. Try to focus on inhaling and exhaling slowly and completely. Notice the changes in your body as you inhale and exhale.
– Try to make your poses active rather than passive. By that, I mean that with each breath you take in that pose you focus on stretching a little further, lengthening your limbs or deepening the poses. See each breath as a chance to grow into the pose, rather than just remaining still.
-Follow up each practice with a good drink. A big glass of water or a cup of herbal tea are both good choices. My favourite post-yoga drink is coconut water. It’s really hydrating, low in sugar and replaces electrolytes lost while exercising. It’s like nature’s Gatorade!
– Keep a yoga journal. After each practice make a note of any progress you made as well as any difficulties you faced. Make a list of poses that you want to try and mark off when you complete them.
– Listen to your body while you’re practicing. Learn the difference between feeling a stretch and straining. If you’re straining, you’re pushing too hard. But in order to progress, you need to feel a stretch. If you pay attention to your body and regularly check in with yourself during your practice, you’ll soon learn how to identify your limits.
– Don’t compare yourself to other people. Every body is different, and we all have different levels of strength, balance and flexibility. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t stretch as far or for as long as someone else. Respect your body’s limits and be grateful for what you can do.
-Begin and end each practice with the same pose. I like to start and finish my practices by sitting in half-lotus and slowly stretching forwards. This gives me a sense of how relaxed and pliant my body has become with my practice, and gives a great ‘before and after’ feeling. You can do this with any basic pose, and it’s a great way to bookend your practice.
How do you maximize your yoga practice?