I am writing this article from the perspective of the average Western yoga student who attends a studio class a couple times a week or practices at home, I picked the top ten things I feel are very important to someone looking for the best experience in their yoga investment. I hope you can use this as a little checklist for yourself while you practice.
- Practice a little each day. Yes it is better to do 10 mins a day than store it up for when you can hit the studio. So in between those studio classes, do what you remember at home to keep that good feeling going.
- Always have an intention. This will harness the mind so you can keep revisiting it. Click here on more ideas about Sankalpa and Intention.
- Practice to your body, not to anyone else’s. Understand what is good for you might not be good for someone else and vice versa. Know your limitations and your progress goals in your mind, emotional and body.
- Practice with a good teacher who has taken training at a good school. If you feel your teacher is not giving you the best instruction, it is time to move on or try something new. Your teacher should be compassionate, kind, and able to modify for you and teach you step by step.
- Understand the styles of yoga, and explore. I suggest not just showing up to a class because it fits your schedule. That might be frustrating to you or the teacher. Not all class styles are all level, call the studio to find out if the class you are taking is right for you, I get several calls a day about this very topic.
- When you practice, you should feel a bit uncomfortable at times when you move your body in a way you have not before, but never in pain. Iyengar says, “Action is movement with intelligence. The world is filled with movement. What the world needs is more conscious movement, more action.”
- You must practice the breath. Iyengar also says, “Breath is the king of mind. By drawing our senses of perception inward, we are able to experience the control, silence, and quietness of the mind.”
- Ask questions. Be a beginner. Two classes does not make you an expert of anything, and we do not expect that of you either. If something does not feel like it is working or is painful, a good teacher will always know how and will help you modify. Just ask.
- Realize that a good solid practice takes time to develop. It can take several years before you master a certain asana, feel like you can center and focus your mind, or relax completely in savasana…or not. We are all different, accept that. It took me 3 years to master pigeon and 5 years to do a single chaturanga.
- Stay away from pop-culture yoga if you want an authentic experience. Be careful of fitness based yoga, hot yoga, and other forms of what they might be calling yoga out there. If you try a class you did not like, there is more out there, try a different class, studio or teacher and give yourself a fair chance to find what you like.
Quick practice tips:
Have a good mat to practice on, I once heard a teacher say you would not go running in a bad pair of shoes, have a good mat. I sell and use Jade at my studio.
Try not to practice on carpet at home if you will be on the wrists at all.
Do not practice with socks on, you need to feel your feet to connect to the earth.
Make sure your clothing does not inhibit your practice.
Videos and real live instruction are totally different.
My perspective on hot yoga: yoga is meant to calm the nervous system, not spike it or yo-yo it. Big increases in temperature will spike the nervous system, and depletes our natural resources by wasting heat which is the anti-yoga. Our bodies heat themselves, especially with more intense physical practices, even in the winter. So do your nervous system a favor and let it find balance, and your bodies heating system will keep you warm when you start to move and cool you when you start to relax. Too much heat will also make you feel more flexible than you are, and you are more likely to risk injury. Sweating does not mean you are detoxifying, do your research, the facts are out there. It is about getting YOUR body to do the work, not a furnace.