Tuesday, June 13, 2017

7 Things To Keep In Mind For a Rewarding Yoga Practice

By now, if you have not heard that yoga is good for you, you must have been living on a different planet for at least a decade. Yes, yoga is great for anyone and everyone. But not all yoga is created equal and not all yoga teachers are equally inspiring, knowledgeable, or qualified. It also matters why you want to practice. Here are 7 things to help you along the way so you can have a rewarding experience.

#1 Pick the style and level that works for you.
An internet search on the styles of yoga can be a good start. A call to the neighborhood yoga studio can help too. But ultimately, trying a few classes and figuring out what your body appreciates most, is the most reliable way to know. Start with the easiest thing you can find. Take an Intro class. Book a private to get evaluated. However you decide to start, please, go slow and be patient with yourself and your body.

#2 Shop around for a yoga teacher.
 Just like with the yoga styles, you can look up teachers’ bios on the websites of each yoga studio and kind of get an idea of who is who. However, all yoga teachers know to write their bios in the most compelling light, so even the most inexperienced ones out there sound good if they have a little writing talent. Also, as a newbie, you may not know any of names each teacher lists as their teachers or be unfamiliar with the yoga language used. Again, the best thing to do is give people a try. Talk to your friends and see who they recommend. Go to a class or two with each teacher that peaks your interest and see for yourself which one you jive with. Your teacher can make you love your practice, or hate it. Your teachers must be patient with you and your body. Hopefully humble. Hopefully not show off what he or she can do. And hopefully, encourage everyone to pay attention to themselves in a kind and mindful way.

#3 Don’t do it if it hurts.
Yes, you are not required to do every single yoga pose offered in a class. You do have a choice. Skip things, rest, just watch if something is unfamiliar. If your body hurts, it’s screaming at you to stop doing whatever you are doing. Yoga is not an Olympic sport and no one gets any medals at the end of a class. So, don’t push the envelope. Get to intimately know your limitations and your body’s quarks and peculiarities and rejoice that they are there. It means that you have something to play with and observe. You have a body. This means you are still alive. That’s good news. We condition this body by repetition mixed with compassion. We also condition this mind with mindfulness mixed with surrender. It all works out at the end. I promise.

#4 Don’t look around the room.
You are not the person on the mat next to yours. Also, you won’t like it if someone is staring at you all the time, even though you may be wearing the coolest Prana pants in the class. Keep your beeswax on your mat and remember:  you got this body, just the way it is, partly from your parents, partly from your attitude, partly from your experience. Therefore, you have a unique combination of body/mind that does not look or perform like any other one. Enjoy your uniqueness. Explore it. Embrace it.

#5 Do connect breath and movement.
This is the essence of the physical practice of yoga. If you are not keeping track of your breath and moving from it, you are totally missing out on what you are there for. Slow down. Breathe. Feel the body and the breath express the postures. This breath can show you where you are tensing, resisting, loosing focus. It will help you stay present. It will keep your mind relaxed and at ease with whatever comes. 

#6 Use your core muscles.
Yes, you have them. They could be in need of some attention, conditioning, and reconnecting to, but they are there. If you are not moving from your core, you are a rootless, wobbly pile of an injury-waiting-to-happen.  If you move from your core, you are elegance and confidence in action, deeply rooted and gracefully flowing…like a pro…even in the gentle class.

#7 Don’t be an armchair yoga practitioner.
Yes, you know those folks who always talk about something and how awesome it is and don’t do it. That’s an armchair yogi/yogini. While you may be exercising your brain imagining the possibilities, you are not getting anything else done. Stop talking and start walking….to your neighborhood yoga studio. I’ll see you on the mat.

You can reach me for a private lesson at 805-909-1401. Or take one of my classes. Text me for a schedule. 

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