Yoga has become a staple of the fitness class world and for good reason. Contrary to literally anyone who hasn’t tried yoga before, no, it’s not “just stretching.” Yoga is the practice of balancing the physical with the mental, stretching long with building strong. Basically, it can be freaking hard, but so rewarding! There is always room to grow in yoga practice and all yoga classes leave room for you to modify and make the practice all your own.
Try some of these 8 things to make your yoga practice the best it can be:
1. Add an intention.
Whether your pumped to be on the mat today or just trying to muscle through it, adding a goal to your practice begins to introduce that focus that your whole practice is founded on. It can be something small, like wanting to lift your hips that much higher in downward dog or finally getting both knees balanced on your elbows in crow pose. Like most things in life, you only get out what you put in, so set a solid intension for your practice.
2. Use magnesium spray.
As much as yoga is about strength it is equally about calm. Magnesium has great calming qualities and is practically odorless. Make or buy a magnesium spray to help calm the mind by spraying it on the hands and feet. For nice and fragrant sprays, check out this video on how to make sprays out of a variety of essential oils that work different parts of your senses. Pick your favorite!
3. Do both home practice and group yoga classes.
Yoga is about you, always, but it’s important to practice both in the quiet sanctuary of your own home and with the energy of others. Having an instructor present in the room is great for helping adjusting your technique, and it’s great to have a variety of levels all together in the same space. Practicing alone, however, gives you the freedom to get crazy and try new poses that you may be too worried to try in public for fear of looking silly. Balance it out with both classes! My favorite home yoga class videos? Yoga with Adriene for sure. Check her out!
4. Get gear that makes you smile.
Some days, getting on the mat is half the battle. Get yourself a yoga mat that just your style, and make sure that your clothes are comfy and give you a large range of mobility. There’s nothing more interrupting to your practice than having to stop and adjust your slipping shirt.
5. Stretch (ha ha) yourself.
I mean this literally and metaphorically. Every breath on the mat is a breath to sink deeper than you thought into your poses. I promise you can do it. Don’t let yourself get too comfortable–let your muscles shake and let yourself be stretched as deep as you can! Find your limit and then go just a little bit further.
6. Set affirmations.
Just as important as intentions! We live in a busy, busy world that can get pretty negative pretty quickly. Pick something you’re grateful for or something you just love about yourself and remind yourself of that affirmation with every inhale. With every exhale, let go of anything that doesn’t serve you in that pose–the negativity will slip right away with your breath.
7. Don’t skimp on your savasana.
Like I said: busy, busy world. Taking 60 minutes out of your day to do yoga is your time–just for you! You best use it to the fullest. Physically, your body needs that savasana to let your muscles rest and the work you’ve just done set it and the lactic acid in your body needs to drain. Mentally, savasana is a wonderful time to let yourself be completely and utterly still, for just those few moments. It can be hard to unwind after days and weeks of go-go-go, but it’s so worth it. Get your corpse pose on.
8. Let. It. Go.
One of my instructors loves to say of falling over in practice: “Go for it, fall. But my gosh, don’t make it a story.” Everything in yoga is momentary: thoughts and fallings over. If it happens, so what? You don’t look dumb. So put yourself out there–try your best to kick your legs into plow pose or tripod. The reward far outweighs the price.
If you haven’t tried yoga before, 1) where have you been in the fitness world the last 10 years, and 2) get out there and do it! Try one or two of these things along with your physical practice to make it the best it can be. Namaste.