Yoga - It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it!
To get the most out of your 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 subtly and effectively filter through into every aspect of our lives. These huge benefits can be maximised by the way we practise our yoga.
The focus, awareness and intent that we bring to the yoga mat can completely change the depth of the practice.
This is something we can work on developing for ourselves.
Maintaining mindfulness plays a huge part. Work to be completely aware of all sensations experienced whilst focusing on good alignment and a smooth steady flow of breath.
If you are a beginner just start by moving through the postures and becoming aware of how they are performed, then you can explore a little. Look for different sensations and 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 and is slightly more challenging.
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. A simple translation, but when we move deeper into our yoga practice it soon becomes apparent that this sense of union is not as straight forward as it first appeared to be. Yoga takes you beyond the connection between body and mind or breath and movement.
A mindful yoga practice helps develop a strong relationship with yourself, it is through this relationship that we are able to listen to the body and meet any current needs and requirements. We are also able to identify when we are feeling out of sorts or unbalanced and then select different yoga practices, techniques or postures to help us regain and maintain balance.
Yoga also enhances many other connections that we have, all of which subtly evolve and might even go unnoticed as yoga becomes part of who we are.
Here are a few points to remember
Yoga is non- competitive, do not compete with others or yourself.
Wear loose comfortable clothing and remove any distracting pieces of jewellery.
Yoga is a natural path, avoid setting yourself goals or targets, you will progress when and if the time is right.
Yoga is so much more than just a physical practice.
Yoga has been practiced for over three thousand years for a good reason.
Yoga will filter into your life and will help you through times of change and challenge, to utilise this to the best of your ability you must remain focused through your sessions.
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 lay in Savasana (the corpse). 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 we can be doing one thing with our body and our 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