Updated: Aug 31, 2022
Yoga offers numerous benefits, from improving strength and flexibility to providing relief from stress and mental fatigue. Every time you roll out the mat is a unique experience. Some sessions will feel more fulfilling than others, and at times, you may feel like you could be getting more out of your practice. But how? Check out the following tips to take your yoga practice to the next level and maximize the benefits of this rewarding mind-body exercise.
Why Practice Yoga?
Are you new to yoga? Understanding how yoga can benefit you specifically can help you get the most out of your practice. People practice yoga for a wide range of reasons. Perhaps you’re looking for an outlet for stress, a way to calm your mind before bed, a solution for stiff muscles, a low-impact strength routine, or an exercise in mindfulness.
Think about what you’re struggling with the most and consider how yoga may help. For example, if you’re dealing with excessive work stress, yoga can help reduce your stress to a level that’s healthier and more manageable.
It’s easy to let your mind wander when you’re following along with a guided yoga practice. However, you’ll get more out of your yoga sessions if you can be present and focus your attention inwards. Chopra.com explains that a big part of yoga is learning how to be aware of what’s going on in your mind and body. Come up with a mantra that you can repeat to yourself during your yoga practice—and anytime in your daily life—to bring your awareness back to the present when you notice your attention is somewhere else.
Move Between Poses with Intention
How you move between yoga poses is just as important as the pose itself. During flowing transitions, it’s easier to create a deep and consistent breathing pattern that enables you to move with your breath instead of working against it. For example, you’ll have an easier time breathing deeply if you inhale during an upward dog and exhale as you transition to a downward dog. Moving between poses with intention can also help you build strength, make impactful adjustments to your alignment, and prepare your body to get the most out of each pose.
Attend Classes and Try New Styles
Do you feel like your practice has reached a plateau? If you’re not sure how to grow your practice, sign up for a yoga class in a new style or with a new teacher. According to Mind Body Green, there are at least 11 major styles of yoga. Kundalini yoga, for example, involves fast-moving postures, specific breath exercises, and spiritual elements like chanting and singing. Yoga styles differ by nature, but you’ll also find variations on each style depending on who is teaching it, so you should always have something new to explore!
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Take Your Practice Off the Mat
The intentions you set during your yoga practice can translate to all other areas of your life as well. Finding ways to take your practice off the mat can help you extend the mind-body benefits of your practice beyond the length of an individual session. For example, you can practice mindfulness in your daily life in the same way you practice internal awareness during a yoga session. Similarly, you can employ the breath to help calm your nervous system whenever you encounter stress out in the world. As you go about your day, think about how you can take different yoga principles and apply them to the rest of your life.
Whether you are brand new to yoga, or you consider yourself a seasoned expert, there are always things you can do to enhance your practice. Try new yoga styles, practice mindfulness, and set intentions that will help you get more out of each movement. Yoga is more than just a series of postures!
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