Yoga can provide many benefits to its practitioners. But how can you get the most out of your time on the mat? It's one of the questions I get asked most by my students.
Here are 7 ways to make yoga work for you:
1. Let go of any expectation on how to do it "right."
Yoga is about meeting oneself where you are. It's about the journey. It isn’t a competition. It isn’t about getting into the perfect pose; it’s about how your body reacts to the pose. Letting go of expectations on how to do yoga the “right” way can open the door to doing it in a way that works best for your body.
2. Dress comfortably.
Dress in what makes you feel comfortable both physically and mentally. If you're going to feel self-conscious in downward dog, or if your clothes are binding when you're in a twist, you're less likely to reap the full possibilities of your practice.
3. Let the instructor be a guide, but let your inner voice be your lead.
It's always best to listen to what your body is telling you. If you're in pain or straining to move into a pose, listen to your body and adjust. Letting the teacher know of any physical limitations before class can help he or she to offer adjustments for you when appropriate.
4. Check in with yourself at the beginning of practice.
Ask yourself what you hope to get out of this time on the mat. Maybe you already have an intention, and you can recall and reflect on it. Maybe you're having a rough day or are going through a difficult life event. Maybe you just need to be compassionate with yourself. Get connected and get straight with yourself on why you're coming to the mat. Come back to your intention during your practice and remind yourself of why you are there.
5. Remember to breathe.
Early on in my practice, one of my teachers said, “In the practice of yoga there is breathing, and there is everything else.” It was a profound moment for me in my practice. The breath will keep you balanced, grounded, and able to fully experience each moment.
6. Practice compassion.
Be compassionate with yourself. Life is full of ups and downs. So is a yoga practice. Give thanks and practice self-compassion no matter what kind of day it is on the mat.
7. Leave your phone at the door.
This will not only help you to stay focused and get the most out of your practice, but it will also honor others’ needs to do the same!
There are days when we struggle to squeeze in a class. Our minds are distracted and our bodies uncooperative. Taking these seven simple steps can help you get the most out of yoga each practice, even on the rough days.