Yoga - It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it!
To get the most out of a yoga practice, it’s not about what you do or how often you do it - the real key is in the way that you do it. Yoga brings so many benefits. These benefits can be maximised by the way yoga is practised. Becoming more mindful whilst on your yoga mat will enhance the practice.
The focus, awareness and intent that is brought to the yoga mat can completely change the depth of the practice. This is something that everyone can work on. By becoming completely aware of all sensations experienced whilst focusing on good alignment and a smooth steady flow of breath, encourages the practice to become more integrated and then the benefits filter into every aspect of life.
If you are a yoga beginner start by moving through a series of simple yoga postures, once you are familiar with the postures begin to bring awareness to how they are performed, the more familiar you become with each posture the more you can explore. Look for different sensations, notice how each breath feels as it enters and leaves the body. It takes time and awareness to deepen your practice. Moving through a series of postures is relatively easy, but feeling each posture changes everything.
The word yoga comes from the ancient Sanskrit word Yuj meaning to yoke. Today we simply translate this to mean unite, union, connect or fuse. As practitioners move deeper into the practice of yoga it soon becomes apparent that this sense of union is not as straight forward as it might appear to be. Yoga takes you beyond the connection between body and mind or breath and movement. As yoga slowly filters into your life and helps you through challenging and changing times.
A mindful yoga practice helps develop a strong relationship with yourself, it is through this relationship that it is possible to listen to the body and meet current needs and requirements to maintain physical and emotional health and harmony.
Don’t forget to prepare before you practise.
Prior to your practice always take a moment to sit in a simple meditation posture with the ankles crossed or lie in Savasana (the corpse pose). Slowly scan through your body and become aware of all sensations experienced. This allows you to connect with your body, calm your mind, it also allows you to discover if you have any new or existing aches, pains, areas of stiffness or resistance.
Make sure that throughout your yoga practice the mind is engaged in the activity that the body is performing. This will ensure that your alignment is good and prevent any injuries, it also helps to connect body and mind (as all too often the body can be doing one thing whilst the mind is occupied with thoughts of an entirely different nature).
Never force the body into postures or stretches. Listen to your body if you feel pain or discomfort relax a posture. Become aware of any resistance and your personal limitations during each practice as these will change each time you roll out your yoga mat.
Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured - B.K.S. Iyengar