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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 July 8, 2020

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

1. Understand Yourself Better

Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

2. Keep Track of Small Changes

I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

3. Become Aware of What Matters

As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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4. Boost Creativity

The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

6. Process Life Experiences

When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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7. Stress Relief

In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

8. Provide Direction

Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

9. Solve Problems

Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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10. Find Relief From Fighting

Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

11. Find Meaning in Life

Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

12. Allow Yourself to Focus

Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

14. Let the Past Go

I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

15. Allow Freedom

Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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16. Enhance Your Career

Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

18. Catalog Your Life for Others

No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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