How to Best Approach Your Yoga Practice
By Joe Rivera
This article is intended for all who are considering beginning a Yoga practice and for those who wish to get deeper into their existing practice.
In a typical Yoga class you are guided through Vinyasas (a sequence of Yoga postures) to increase coordination, balance and strength, while focusing on Pranayama (breath) to initiate and sustain poses (increasing stamina and endurance).The purpose of it all, besides creating better physical fitness, is to ultimately quiet the cluttered mind. But how do we do this as individuals within the setting of a class?
The first thing to look at is the fact that Yoga is considered a practice. This is a great word because if it is a practice, you have permission to abandon self-doubt and create room for self-discovery. The very nature of the word “practice” suggests there is no need to prove, but rather the freedom to improve. Accept your own perfection and imperfection and find the beauty, that together, they reveal. Lets take a look at a few steps that may serve you well in your approach to Yoga.
Things You’ll Need:
- Yoga Instructor
- Yoga Mat
- Yoga Block
- Yoga Straps
- Common Sense
Every great journey begins with just one first step. Remember, like life, your Yoga practice is just a journey. Enjoy the process and do not put so much emphasis on a result or a definitive destination.
Take a Level One or Beginner’s Class
If you are new to Yoga this is paramount because these classes tend to be smaller in number, which means you get more personal attention. This will be a great help in getting a good foundation and learning correct form.
If you are advanced, taking this type of class will give you a new perspective and greater insight.
The first step to knowing oneself is to be honest with oneself. Listen to your inner wisdom and common sense. Your mind and body will tell you how far you can go if you truly listen. Be aware of what is being done by others in the class, but do not concern yourself with it–remember this is your time, your practice. The first step to overcoming limitations is to realize what they are and then challenge yourself to go further. Also note that just like with everything else, you will only get from your practice what you are willing to put in–always do your best!
Be honest with your instructor and let them know of any injuries, physical limitations, or if something doesn’t feel right. A good instructor will have modifications for you.
I Don’t Know
A great Yogi named Ganga White of the “White Lotus Foundation” once told me that these three words are the most liberating words imaginable. They give you the privilege to grow and learn. This is a good attitude to be mindful of since there is always something more to learn in Yoga. Also, this really gives you permission to ask. So, if you don’t understand the body mechanics of an asana or have any other question–ask your Yoga instructor.
No matter when you are in class or what time your class starts or ends–from the moment you step on your Yoga mat–there is only one time that matters–NOW!
Tips & Warnings
- These guidelines are meant to be taken as broad strokes. There are many other things to consider regarding your own personal approach to Yoga. As you continue to grow in your practice more things will come up–use what works for you.
- If you are ever in the Los Angeles area and want to take my class, just go to my website for details and shoot me an email. Peace.
- Some schools of Yoga may appear rigid or dogmatic. If this is the case, be your own light and follow your own path–and remember–that while we are all connected–we are also individuals.