5 Ways To Enhance Your Yoga Practice
Every teacher, class and studio is different depending on the people or the style of yoga you are practicing. Regardless of where or who you practice with, below are 5 ways to enhance your yoga experience…
1. Just turn up
The beauty is that people often come here for the stretch, and leave with a lot more. ~ Liza Ciano
Most people that are drawn to yoga are there for more than just stretching. Whether it is something you have read, heard or maybe experienced there is no denying that while a yoga class can indeed stretch and relax you, it also positively effects the body, mind and spirit. But we all have those days when it feels too hard to turn up to class, you’re busy, stressed, tired, sore or just simply in a ‘can’t be bothered’ mood…the thing is…these are the days when you need to just turn up. Trust me. Days like these are where you will discover the magic of yoga. If you really had to drag yourself to class, find your mat before practice starts and come into Childs Pose or Shavasana, close your eyes and repeat this simple mantra that our teacher Maria uses: inhale “I am here” exhale “I am ok“. Simple but effective.
2. Be on time
Yoga doesn’t take time, it gives time. ~ Ganga White
Some studios have a strict arrival policy that students arrive anywhere from 5-20 minutes before class, and once the class has started students are no longer able to join the class. As most teachers begin by opening the space and becoming present it is recommended that if you are late you do not enter until this has finished and practicing asanas has begun. Of course, sometimes life happens and you just can’t help that you are stuck in traffic or that a co-worker grabs you just as you thought the coast was clear! It can be quite disruptive for the students who were on time when someone comes in late, so always aim to arrive atleast 5 minutes before class. If you find yourself constantly late, maybe have a little ponder over what it is that has you running late constantly, perhaps this is a sign that there is something to work on here…
3. Be open and curious
Yoga is the perfect opportunity to be curious about who you are. ~ Jason Crandell
We always try to encourage our students to approach new asanas with an open and curious attitude, and not to take it too seriously! Whether it is a balance or a strengthening pose your attitude is so important when trying new things. After all, how you react to learning a new posture will be the same as your reaction to new experiences off the mat in everyday life. Through yoga you can learn how to approach learning and challenges with a calm and open nature. Once the struggle and expectation is taken out of learning and growing you will delight in how much more fun life is!
4. Body and mind awareness
The most important pieces of equipment you need for doing yoga are your body and your mind. ~ Rodney Yee
While you will always be encouraged to be open and curious, the practice of yoga is also a great way to become aware of your limits, especially within the body. Yoga is a non-competitive practice and competing or comparing your Tree or Crow Pose with your neighbours will do you no favours. I often say during class when we are holding a pose like Warrior 2 – and you begin to feel physically and mentally challenged and the chatter box in your heads starts on “How long do we have to hold this” or “Arghh my arms are tired“…connect with the breath and draw energy and strength from it. If you are feeling tired and there is pain, lower the arms and straighten the legs, take a break. Only you know how it feels to be in your body, learn to spot the difference between your mind telling you that you are tired and your body saying “this does not feel good for me“. Do what feels good for you right now, as a teacher I always respect where a student is at that moment and will never bring attention to someone who chooses rest over strain, but will also encourage you to breathe and find strength.
When you own your breath, nobody can steal your peace. ~ Unknown
As teachers, we don’t walk around the class telling you a million times to “take a breathe“, “inhale and exhale” or “breathe into the tightness and tension” because we can’t think of anything else to say. We do it because it works! I always notice that if there are one or two people in class that have found their ‘yoga breath’ the rest of the class catches on and the energy in the room is focused and magic. The simple act of using your breath as you move, stretch, strengthen and relax can reduce stress, calm the mind, energise the body and facilitate healing…just to name a few miracles of a simple inhale and exhale!
I’ll leave you with this final quote…
Before you’ve practiced, the theory is useless. After you’ve practiced, the theory is obvious. ~ David Williams