The practice of yoga is one that will undoubtedly enhance your daily life. Whether you’re just getting started, or a long-time yogi looking to take your practice to the next level, don’t miss these simple tips that will help boost your yoga game:
1. Focus on your breathing
When you first start out in the world of yoga, people will constantly tell you that you need to concentrate on your breathing. But what does that actually mean? Yoga breathing is often referred to as pranayama and is one of the core aspects of the practice. When you’re ready to take the routine to the next level, it’s worth looking into various breathing exercises.
For example, you may wish to try the breathing retention method. For this, you should sit in the traditional cross-legged position. This is a very simple technique, in which you inhale deeply, hold the breath for the count of two (or two ohms), and then slowly release.
Alternately, there’s the conqueror breath method. This involves breathing in through your nose and then breathing out deeply through a wide, open mouth. As you exhale, be sure to draw the breath along the back of your throat to create a ‘Ha’ sound. As with all exercises, the more you practice these, the easier they will become.
2. Draw out your favorite positions
One of the biggest problems that many beginners have is that they forget the positions. You may learn them in class or by a video, but you want to be able to recall them at a moment’s notice. Rather than getting them wrong and potentially injuring yourself, make an effort to memorize them by drawing them out. You can literally draw stick people in your favorite positions in a notebook or journal. That means that when you next need to get into the right pose, you can quickly and easily refer to your notebook.
3. Relax your muscles between sessions
Make no mistake here, yoga can be hard on your muscles. Yoga practice stretches and tests them, helping you build up flexibility and strength. If you don’t look after your body between sessions, you may find that your muscles start to ache and you’re less and less motivated to keep up with practice. There are a few things you can do to care for your muscles.
Using a foam roller will allow you to target achy muscles with deep pressure and stretching, which boosts circulation and alleviates tension. Sore muscles may also be aided by cold therapy (applying an ice pack for 10 to 20 minutes at a time), as well as heat therapy like taking a warm bath, as well massage, stretching, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatories.
4. Get yourself a sticky mat
There’s nothing worse than trying to practice yoga when your mat is sliding around the floor. Effective yoga practice truly requires minimal distractions at all times. One of the easiest solutions to minimize mat sliding is investing in a sticky mat which won’t slip around as you move into various positions. You can find quality sticky mats online or at your local yoga studio.
5. Use the little and often method
When you first start any exercise routine, one of the most crucial things is how often you practice. Rather than attempting to do a super long yoga session the first time you try, or skipping your regular sessions and trying to jam in an extra long practice, you should adopt the little and often method – practice just a little bit at a time, but on a routine basis.
Doing so can have seriously positive effects on your mental and physical health. In fact, according to a study by the Boston University Medical Center, practicing yoga twice a week in classes and at home too can alleviate the symptoms of depression. The takeaway is simple — the more you keep going, the better you will feel.
6. Keep a yoga journal
Of course, at times, you will find it hard to get your motivation levels up. If that’s the case, you might like this final little tip. Why not keep a yoga journal? It may sound silly, but it could be just the thing to help you keep on track. In each entry, you can note down how long you practiced, the areas in which you improved, the areas in which you need to improve, and how you would rate your overall experience. When you can physically see your progress in written form, you will get even more out of your yoga practice.