5 Tips To Keep Your Yoga Practice On Track
So, you've read How To Survive Your First Yoga Class and everything is going great. You have been doing yoga but you can feel yourself slipping. Here are 5 easy tips for keeping yourself on the mat and off the couch.
1. Listen to your body
Your body will often tell you exactly what it needs and when it needs it. If something doesn’t feel right, chances are it isn’t. Remember that you are the only person who knows how a posture feels in your body. If you experience any pain, stop and ask your teacher for advice. You should be able to breath fully and deeply in each pose. If you can’t breathe, this is an indication that you’ve gone too far. Back off and find your breath. It is the breath that allows the body to open up. Remember slow and steady wins the race. When it comes to things like stretching and increasing core-strength, the body responds much better to gentle persuasion than to brute-forcing. It is better to keep up a regular practice than to drop into a really hard class once a month. It’s also one of the best ways to avoid injury, which can put you back weeks or even months!
2. Talk to other yogis
You can learn a lot by talking to others that have been through the same experiences that you are going through. You could be having difficulties getting into a posture or maybe you have chronically tight hamstrings. If you are a beginner talk to other beginners, they are experiencing the same things you are. You can learn from each other and you will be creating your own yoga community at the same time. Also, having a laugh about how incredibly impossible some postures seem can really help avoid getting too hung-up on "progress".
3. Designate time and space for your practice
If you go to yoga classes, make space for classes in your weekly planner. Schedule it in as you would any other appointment. If you practice at home, you will still need to set aside a time each week to do your practice and stick to it. Write it on the calendar in your kitchen. Let family members know that you will be busy and you are not to be disturbed. It is easier to find time for yoga if you make time for yoga.
If you want to practise yoga at home create a space in your house for it. It doesn’t need to be an entire room complete with a 6 foot Ganesh and a full range of yoga props, but perhaps you could put aside an empty corner of a room. Make the space special by creating a little shrine or putting up inspirational pictures. Leave your yoga mat there and any props that you may use during your practice. Ideally you want to be able to start your practice without moving things or cleaning up beforehand, if you pick up a laundry basket you may be tempted to put a load of washing in. Try to keep this space sacred; don’t store your laundry in the same space you are meant to clear your head.
4. Pick a pose, any pose…
Nearly every yogi has a part of their practice that they completely dread... OK, maybe this is being a bit melodramatic, but there is often a part that is not your favourite. To fix this situation, choose one asana (posture) each week to do between classes. Choose a pose that you find challenging or something that opens up a part of your body where you experience tightness. Practise this asana a couple of times in between classes. It will make it easier to do next time you go to class and also help you to build confidence.
5. Move deeper and stay inspired
If you are not challenged in your practice you will become bored. If you are bored your enjoyment levels will drop. If that happens you are more likely to stay home eating chips and watching reality television. If you are having trouble staying focused in class it could be time to move on to a more advanced class or move on to a different teacher. When you are in the company of an inspiring teacher everything will seem more interesting, enjoyable and stimulating, and this makes it easier to stay focused. Try out a few different teachers until you find someone that really speaks to you. If there isn’t one available in your area you could try reading up on yoga and finding ways to deepen your own practice that you can take into your regular class.
With all of these tips, it's important to remember that it's your practice for your body and mind, so do only what feels right for you. I hope these ideas help and, if so, please leave a comments below!
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