You’re in downward facing dog position, but instead of concentrating on your breathing and touching those dang heels to the mat, you’re thinking of your to-do list and the next work hassle you have to tackle. We’ve all been there. While thoughts and distractions are bound to occur on the mat, there are easy ways to avoid these stressful distractions and improve your practice. Whether you’re a seasoned yogi or trying it out for the first time, following these simple guidelines will enlighten your practice and enrich your overall experience.
1. Give yourself time
Yoga is a practice of calming the mind and body. Rushing out of your busy life and onto your mat and into your practice contradicts the calm that yoga stands for. Leave your stress at the door and give yourself a few minutes to simply relax. Our goal is to relieve that stress before you walk back out the door. Take your awareness away from your to-do list and onto your mat for some one-on-one time with you. Allotting a few minutes before each class will guarantee a more peaceful, fulfilling practice.
2. Focus on your breath
The Sanskrit root for yoga means “union” or “to yoke.” Yoga is the conscious practice of linking breath to movement. When your mind begins wandering, gently bring it back to your yoga practice by focusing on your breath. Allow every inhale to help center yourself within your pose. Allow every exhale to lead yourself a bit deeper into the stretch.
Staying with your breath will silence your mind and strengthen your practice. Falling in love with yoga or whatever you may do will help you fall in love with yourself.
3. Find your Drishti
Drishti is the practice of steadying your gaze. Where your eyes go, your attention follows. If your gaze begins to wander, so may your thoughts. You become fully present when you can calm the mind. Now you are able to mindfully direct your focus, with a gaze that is both present and controlled.
4. Stay hydrated
As with an physical exertion, it is important to keep your body hydrated. In yoga, and especially for all hot yoga participators out there, you need 1-1.5 liters of water for an hour long practice. As the body sweats, the blood thickens and the heart has to pump faster. This chain reaction increases immune and metabolic function and it puts strain on the body.
If your body isn’t properly hydrated, your performance will suffer.
5. Don’t judge
When it comes to self-confidence, we can often be our own worst enemies. Just as our practice changes, so does our bodies from one day to the next. One leg may be more flexible today than it was last week, or we might find tension in a forward fold that wasn’t always there. The most important aspect of our yoga practice is our attitude. Arriving with an open mind and a willingness to accept your body as it is in this moment will banish all negative self-chatter.
Ultimately have fun and love your practice, the stress will see itself out!
Tesa is new to blogging, but hopes to make a big impact with her vast knowledge of athletics and experience. Tesa recently earned her bachelor's degree at the Pennsylvania State University. While majoring in Athletic Training and minoring in psychology, she worked with various division one collegiate sports teams. Tesa is continuing her education by pursuing her Master's of Science in Kinesiology with a concentration in sports pedagogy at The Louisiana State University. Tesa is a board certified Athletic Trainer and a Performance Enhancement Specialist. Outside of the training room, Tesa enjoys going on runs and working out for leisure.
Main Photo Credit: antoniodiaz/shutterstock.com; Second Photo Credit: fizkes/shutterstock.com; Third Photo Credit: Soloviova Liudmyla/shutterstock.com