Like everything out there, there are people who are naturally great at yoga, but there are even more people who struggle. If you’re like me, and fall into this latter category, don’t worry. You can get better at yoga. Follow these tips:
1. Leave your ego at home.
So many people have a hard time with this one, but it’s the most important. You can’t worry what your yoga classmates think. You can’t worry if someone thinks you’re inflexible, or have poor form. You can’t be worried about looking silly, sweating too much, sweating too little, or farting in yoga class.
Letting go of any competitive instinct, and any fear of judgement, will instantly improve your practice. Once you stop worrying what others are thinking of you, you’ll start listening to your body and focusing on what your body needs, enjoys, and dislikes.
Breathing is paramount in a good yoga practice, but so many people get stuck. They hold a pose and forget to breathe. They struggle, and start to take quick, shallow breathes. Proper breathing is a way to moderate your practice.
Maintaining good ujjayi breath will help you maintain balance, calm, and awareness. If you’re going so quickly you’re unable to maintain ujjayi breath, you’ll know it’s time to slow it down a notch.
3. Strive for symmetry
It’s important to develop the muscles of the body equally. If you hold a pose for 10 breaths on the right, try to hold it for 10 breaths on the left. Maintaining balance in your body will help prevent future injuries. Muscles that are more developed on one side of your body can cause your shoulder to slump, put strain on your spine, or even effect the way you walk.
4. Lengthen your spine
Whatever pose you do, it can almost always be improved by lengthening your spine. Reach up through the top of your head, and reach down through your tail bone to see an improvement in your posture both on and off the mat.
5. Cross train
You don’t have to enroll in a cross training program to cross train. But it’s a good idea to add walking and weight lifting to your yoga practice. If you’re a beginner and are having a hard enough time making a go of your yoga practice, don’t worry. Over time you’ll develop endurance and strength and can add additional exercises to your day.
Even if I do yoga, I also do these exercises throughout the day:
- Wall pushups. I try to do 30-50 wall pushups while waiting for the tea kettle.
- Leg lifts. Before I turn in for the night, I sit on the edge of my bed and do 10-20 leg lifts while applying my moisturizer.
- Chin rotations. Chin rotations help strengthen your neck and tighten the loose skin under your chin. I do these throughout the day. I do them while I’m sitting at my desk, while I’m sitting on the couch watching TV with my husband, and when I’m getting ready for bed.
What are your tips to improve your yoga practice? Let me know in the comments.