We all want to get a little more out of our yoga practice–a little more calm, a little more flexibility, a little more strength. Whatever your desire, you can apply one of the three tips I’ve listed below to notice an immediate improvement in the way you feel during and after class.
- At the start of every pose, notice your breath
- Do the “Tense and Release” in your poses
- Be playful, and do what scares you:
How often do we get to yoga class, get connected to a beautiful, bountiful, flowing ujayii breath and halfway into standing pose, lose it? Yoga is about forming a union with your breath, so make it an integral part of your asana practice. Think of every pose as a new beginning, and simultaneously a new connection to your breath. This will increase the oxygen to your muscles, making you calmer and more able, physically, to keep moving.
Yoga is all about letting go and accepting what is, and yet, yogis often find themselves holding unhealthy tension in areas like their shoulders, glutes, lower back and face. To get more relaxation out of your yoga practice, try tensing all of your muscles in a pose (even your face!), hold the tension for two or three seconds, and relax as many muscles as you can. Sure, your quadriceps will still be tense if you’re in Warrior II, but what a relief when you release all the tension you’ve been storing in your shoulders and back!
This also really works well in stretching poses and will allow you to melt deeper. Now apply that breath, and you’ll be more flexible and more peaceful instantly.
Ignore what a pose is “supposed” to look like, and feel into your natural expression of it. When you think of Hanaumanasana (front split), you might think you can’t do it and shouldn’t attempt it if you’re not going to go all the way down. This is where you should stop thinking about what the pose is supposed to look like, and instead focus on alignment and do what you can. Have an open heart about poses, and know that you will get into your perfect expression of the pose with practice.
This also goes for more advanced poses like Warrior III (you do not have to be parallel at first!), wheel pose (your teacher can get you into a pose that works for you, I promise!), and even inversions (your transitions will become smoother and more controlled over time!).