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Read This If You Want To Have A Better Yoga Experience

Read This If You Want To Have A Better Yoga Experience

Want a better yoga experience? Drop your expectations. If you could approach your yoga practice without any expectations at all, that would be perfect. However, that’s impossible for most of us. Do the best you can: breathe, relax, and be present. Your life will change.

These eleven tips will help.

1. Take a Yoga Class, and Get There Early.

Want to learn yoga? Take a yoga class. Yes, you can learn from videos and books, but you’ll feel much more confident, and will get more out of your practice, if you take a class. Your yoga teacher can help you to understand your body’s responses to the asanas (postures).

Talk to your teacher before you sign up for a class, and don’t be insulted if your teacher suggests a beginners’ class. Most importantly, get to class early. You can get a good position, and can stretch and warm up before the class begins.

2. Respect Yourself and Your Own Experiences in Your Yoga Practice.

Yoga isn’t just a series of exercises, nor is it a competitive sport. Yoga is union:

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Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj, meaning “to yoke” or “to unite”. We practice yoga to unite the body, breath, mind, and heart… The Yoga Sutras say, “Yoga is the ability to direct the mind without distraction or interruption.” Another interpretation is that yoga means to be in harmony with a higher power, the universe, or your highest self. – Bend and Bloom Yoga

Most importantly, yoga is experiential — no one can tell you what to experience. Your experiences are your own, and you won’t be able to put them into words. Indeed, you’ll realize that words aren’t necessary.

3. Go Within: Accept and Listen to What Your Body’s Telling You.

We assume that our mind is separate from our body. However, neuroscientist Candace Pert, in her ground-breaking book Molecules of Emotion, suggested that your mind lives in every cell of your body.

Yoga will show you that this is true. Yoga makes you comfortable in your body. You’ll be more relaxed, more confident, and your life will improve. Indeed, after practicing yoga for a while, your life may change in ways you don’t expect.

You’ll discover who you are. All you have to do is listen to your body as you do yoga.

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4. Be Present: Turn Off Your Phone, and Inhabit Your Body.

To truly listen to your body, you need to be present. Be aware of your body. Turn off your phone. Relax into each asana, and stop struggling. Breathe.

5. Accept Joy: Smile, Within and Without.

Smile. Your mind and body are united. When you smile, you’ll become joyful. Try it. Smile as you do your yoga practice. You’ll learn to trust the joy you feel. Your friends will notice that you’re happier. Who knew that a smile could make such a difference?

6. Your Breath Is Everything: Breathe Into the Tightness in Your Body.

Your breath is your life. You can’t live for more than a few minutes without breathing. As you relax, and your body releases tension and toxins, you’ll be able to breathe more deeply.

Use your breath. Direct your breath into the tight areas in your body. As your body becomes more flexible, so will your mind.

7. You’re You: No Judgments or Comparisons.

You’ll find yourself making comparisons between your own body and those of the other people in your yoga class. You’ll want to be as calm and serene as one person, and as flexible as another. You may feel superior — or envious.

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Whenever you feel yourself drifting into a day dream about other students in your class, or about what you have or don’t have in your life, gently bring yourself back to your breath, and breathe into your body.

8. Do Your Homework: Practice Gentle Yoga Stretches at Home — And in the Office.

You may take a yoga class once or twice a week. You’ll benefit most if you also do some yoga stretches at home. Speak to your teacher. Ask them what asanas they recommend for your home practice. Perhaps they’ll ask you to do a round or two of Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations) each day.

Surya Namaskar is a popular dynamic sequence of asanas, which is reputedly over 2,500 years old. It includes eight basic postures. You can do the entire sequence dynamically, as a flow of postures, or you can take a minute or two with each posture, if you have more time.

Do some stretches in the office too. Several minutes of yoga will both energize you, and relax you.

9. Invest in Yoga and Meditation Accessories: They Help.

Mats, belts, cushions, blocks — which yoga and meditation accessories do you need? You’re unlikely to need any as a new student. Be guided by your teacher. Before you use items like a belt, or blocks, ask your teacher which postures you should use them in.

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As your practice deepens, and you’re more familiar with your body, you’ll understand how and when to use accessories.

10. Accept Your Emotions: Smile, or Cry. No One Will Judge You.

Emotional breakthroughs are common in yoga. Yoga releases emotions that are buried in your body. The first time another student bursts into tears during practice, you’ll be startled. If you’re the person who’s emotional, you may feel as if there’s something wrong with you. There’s nothing wrong. Accept whatever happens.

11. Have Fun: Wear Comfortable Yoga Clothes, and Relax.

You’ll quickly come to look on yoga class, and your daily practice of yoga at home and in the office, as the best part of your day. Expectations will arise. Forget them, and just relax into the postures. Yoga does its magic subtly and powerfully. All you need to do is enjoy it. Wear comfortable clothes, and if you’re practicing in your office, close the door and take off your shoes.

Use these tips for a better yoga experience. Yoga will subtly transform every area of your life, unlocking the person you are as it unites your body, mind and spirit.

Featured photo credit: Rance Costa via Photopin

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Last Updated on May 22, 2019

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

1. Cat Camel Stretch

Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

Here’s a video to guide you through:

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2. Go for a Walk or a Run

This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

3. Jumping Jacks

Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

4. Abductor Side Lifts

Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

5. Balancing Table Pose

This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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    6. Leg Squats

    Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

    Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

    The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

    7. Push Ups

    You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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    An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

    Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

    This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

    8. Bicycle Crunches

    There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

    Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

    9. Lunges

    Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

    Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

    This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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    10. Bicep Curls

    You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

    Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

    Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

    Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

    Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

    These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

    You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

    Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

    More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

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