Tips for Developing a Yoga Practice
"An intelligent approach to yoga means that, before you begin, you are clear about the various aspects of the asana you wish to practice, and know how to prepare for them in such a way that you reduce or negate any undesired effects." -T. K. V. Desikachar
Embarking on a yoga journey is a commitment to your personal health and wellness, where each day you choose to practice and challenge yourself. A yoga practice goes beyond showing up to class every day but extends to what we practice at home and in our daily lives. However, developing your personal practice outside the studio can be daunting if you don't know where to begin, so I offer a few tips to help reinforce or start your practice!
1. Point of Reference
Having a point of reference allows for better understanding of the postures, breathing, yoga concepts, and philosophy. There are many books and youtube channels that are dedicated to teaching yoga and expounding on the wisdom. Yet, I want to stress the importance of having an actual teacher as a point of reference. The personal connection between student and teacher supports and guides a yogi's growth; access to teachers allow for on the spot guidance. Teachers are important because they help us realize the areas that need more attention--seeing what we can't see, all while providing insight for in and out the studio.
2. Practice, Practice, Practice!
Pretty self-explanatory. Often times getting on the mat or going to the studio can be the hardest part of a yogi's practice because something in life happens or search for reasons not to make it class. Yet, when we are consistent and focused, that is where transformation and growth happen.
3. Show up for yourself, take the time for yourself.
"Incorporating a home practice is crucial to growth." I personally have to work on this, being motivated to go to class is one thing, but getting to my mat at home (when the bed and everything else is there) is extremely tough. Yet, as my practice grows it is something I am beginning to establish. I know there are plenty of online yoga resources that provide yoga sequences, flows, and other insight. Check out DOYOUYOGA, Cody, and of course Youtube to help with ideas for your home practice.
Practicing yoga tends to bring up a lot of emotions while in postures and in seeking change from within. The days when you feel frustrated, anxious, stressed, doubtful, uncertain etc. To recenter: be patient, be open, be kind to yourself, and of course be present.
5. Connect the Breath
I love breathing! Yet, in class breathing gets difficult, because I'll lose the connection between the breath and body. In practicing asanas (postures), we have to consciously create the link between the breath, body, and ultimately the mind. That is the essence of yoga: creating a connection with the breath and the body while learning to accept yourself; as you are and where you are.
Key for linking the breath and body: when the body is contracted, exhale; when the body is expanded inhale.
What do you do to enhance your practice? What helps you stay on the mat?