Every time you step onto your yoga mat it's a unique experience. Just like every day is different, every yoga practice is different. Even if you do the same poses in the same order with the same music, and the same teacher.... the experience is always different. How we show up on our mat and all of the events from our day that have led us to our mat have a big impact on our overall practice. But, no matter what happened throughout your day prior to your yoga, these 5 tips well help you get the most out of your practice! Ready, set, let's dive in.
1. Honor Your Body
When you sit down on your mat and close your eyes give yourself a moment to simply notice how you feel. Notice any tension, any areas of the body that can use a little love and attention, and take a few deep sighing breaths. When we take a moment to slow down, honor ourselves, and connect with our breath it helps us ground and clear the clutter from our day so we are able to become present to our practice.
2. Set An Intention
If you've been to my class or really any yoga class you've heard teachers say to "set an intention" at the beginning of a class. I remember when I first started practicing, I was getting all in my head about what my intention was. I had just rushed to the studio from work, frazzled and frantically secured my mat space, I sat down and then boom the teacher was asking me to set an intention. It took me a bit, but I finally figured out: just keep it simple. An intention can be just a single word that represents your practice for the day like "love" or "grace". It can also be an I AM statement such as I AM STRONG, or I AM GRATEFUL FOR MY PRACTICE. The major key is to not overthink it, and also I recommend staying with an intention for more than just a practice or two to really plant those seeds deep!
3. Welcome Challenge
When the yoga teacher calls out a yoga pose you are unfamiliar with or that is "a hard pose" be open to experiencing the pose at the appropriate depth for you. Just because it doesn't look like a magazine cover, or a profile picture on Instagram doesn't mean you're not doing the pose! We all have to start somewhere. Notice what thoughts arise when you are asked to do a challenging pose in your next class. If they are negative or self defeating, see if you can flip your perspective on the pose. So, instead of "there is no way I can do that" or "yea right", try "ok lets just start", "I can do this" and then simply take the first step, put some intention behind the pose, take a deep breath and do the first cue that the teacher offers. Don't worry about getting to the end result on the first try, just start! You got this, and will be amazed at how this shift in perspective can change not only your experience with a challenging yoga pose, but also with how you approach challenging situations off the mat in your daily life.
4. Move With Grace
Take your time to get in and out of the unique shapes you are putting your body in. Practice with grace and control. Sometimes less is more, and sometimes exploring the edge of a pose can lead to profound breakthroughs. The key is to be aware, and really allow yourself to witness the sensations and breathe deeper where you need to. It is called a practice for a reason, if some days you continue to find yourself lost in thought, or out of balance don't be so hard on yourself, just take a deep breath and carry on with grace. The gentleness and lightness will take you a long way in your practice and provide more clarity in the mind.
5. Don't Skip Savasana
The ancient yogis used to do all the physical poses for hours as preparation for meditation. In today's fast paced world savasana can often times get overlooked since as a society we have to get on with our day... to keep up with work, emails, texts, phone alerts etc... I know I am guilty of leaving a class before savasana to get to the next thing. But, savasana is really an opportunity to soak up the profound benefits from the hard work of our physical practice. This is a beautiful place of deep healing and transformation for our bodies and mind. While sometimes it can be hard to lie still and just be, look at it as an opportunity to take a break from everything else that is going on around you and take some "me time". Trust me, all the that other stuff will still be there when you want to go plug back into the matrix :)
Pedro Luna is a south Florida based yoga instructor, lululemon ambassador, podcast host, event host, and international retreat leader. He is also the co-host of YogaFestFL (the largest yoga festival in Florida), and creator of the globally recognized and hilarious Instagram page @yogimemes. Pedro is on a mission to share the gift of yoga with the world, one person at a time.
Check out Pedro's online yoga class schedule HERE!
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