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Ways to Improve Your Yoga Practice

Updated: Nov 25, 2021

Are you looking for a great way to get in shape without dropping money on gym memberships and workout shoes?

Yoga might be right for you!

Yoga is a great way to exercise your body and quiet your mind at the same time.

And because it isn’t as jarring as high-impact exercises like jogging, it’s a great way to rehabilitate your body after an injury or years of holding extra weight.

Whether you’re just beginning to add yoga to your workout routine or if you’re a seasoned yogi, you can always take your yoga practice to the next level.

We’ll look at five tips for getting the most out of your yoga routine, increasing your mindfulness while improving your body.

Know Your Poses

When you first start doing yoga, you’ll probably spend a lot of time trying to figure out how your instructor is contorting their body.

If you need to perk your head up and watch the instructor every time they announce a new pose, your yoga practice isn’t going to be as beneficial as it should be.

There are thousands of yoga postures, but don’t worry–you won’t be expected to know all of them unless you are an advanced yoga teacher.

It is a good idea to know the names of some of the most common postures so you can flow easily between them.

One of the most foundational sequences in yoga is Sun Salutation A. Sun A is used as a starting point for a number of flows, so memorizing these poses will put you in a good spot.

Some other yoga poses you should memorize are

Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)

Warrior 1 and 2 (Virabhadrasana I and II)

Half Pigeon Pose (Ardha Kapotasana)

Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)

Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

But remember that every instructor has their own favorite poses. Familiarize yourself with whichever poses your instructor comes back to.

Pay Attention to Your Body

As the old adage goes, “no pain, no gain.”

And while you will probably experience some pain as you fight your body’s stiffness, it’s never a good idea to over-exert yourself.

If you stretch your body too far during your yoga practices, you run the risk of pulling or bruising muscles, which will grind your exercise routine to a swift halt.

You want your yoga practice to require effort, without pushing yourself too far.

As a general rule, if you can’t perform a yoga pose and still smile, you might be working too hard.Pay attention to what your body is saying to you. Take note of any pain or discomfort you feel.Also, pay attention to what your body is doing. How firmly are your “roots”–that is, whatever parts of your body are on the ground during that pose–supporting you?

How straight is your spine?

Are you crunching your neck or shoulders?

Also, take note of any shaking or wobbling you might have in a pose. The first time you go into Plank Pose, you might not be able to hold it without your muscles shaking. But now, your Plank is as stiff as a…plank.

Paying attention to your body can help you keep track of how far you’ve come in your yoga practice.

Stay Mindful of Your Breath

The heart of yoga is tranquility.

And if you’re hyperventilating while you’re trying to stay in a headstand, that tranquility will be hard to find. Yoga devotees practice what is called Ujjayi breathing to make the most of their yoga practice. Ujjayi, or “victorious breath,” helps the mind relax while in a yoga pose. It also helps the body, increasing oxygen to the bloodstream and improving circulation. It can even lower your blood pressure, which reduces stress.

Ujjayi can also help create a rhythm for your yoga practice, which can help you flow between different postures. If you are struggling to maintain your balance in a certain posture, or if you’re struggling to keep the stress of your bills out of your mind, take a moment to focus on your breath. Breathe in and out through your nose, and let peace wash over you.

Stick To Your Routine

As hectic as our lives are, it can be hard to stay committed to a new fitness routine.

With our jobs, families, hobbies, and social obligations all fighting for time, it can be hard to make sure everything gets the time it deserves.

Many times, our practice gets left with the short end of the stick. Your yoga mat bag sits in the corner of your room or the backseat of your car.

For your yoga to be effective, create a routine that works for you.

Then stick to it. Even when it’s inconvenient.

Yoga can make a huge impact on your physical and mental wellness, but only if you stick to a routine.

Know–And Accept–Your Limits

Chances are, you’re not going to be able to go into a full split with your instructor. You might not even be able to stay balanced in Downward Facing Dog.

It’s important to treat your body’s limitations with patience and kindness.

Not only can pushing your body past its limits cause physical harm, but being hard on yourself for not being able to perform these postures perfectly goes against the tranquility at the heart of yoga.

Give yourself room to fail, and your yoga practice will be much more rewarding.

Transform Your Yoga Practice

Remember: no one becomes a master yogi overnight.

Yoga is a skill, and like every skill, it requires discipline and consistent practice.

But if you work these tips into your yoga practice, you’ll be well on your way to a healthy mind and body.

So unroll that mat, put on your yoga pants, and salute the sun.

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