The 12 steps to yoga nirvana
Feeling like your yoga practice has recently plateaued? Take these 12 quick and helpful steps fromfitsugar.com to turn up the heat.
BY LIZZIE FUHR
1. Hydrate all day: Drinking water in the middle of your practice can mess with your flow, so arriving hydrated is necessary. Focus on drinking water all day long; you'll be amazed at what a difference it will make.
2. Show up early: Rushing into the studio with a harried mind and no time to chill gets your practice off to a rough start. Allow at least 10 more minutes than you think you'll need to have plenty of time to change clothes, check in with a cool mind, and sip on some tea, if you can!
3. Dress the part: There's nothing worse pulling up the waistband of your pants or making sure your top doesn't spill out of your built-in bra all class long. That's not where your mind needs to be during your Downward Dog. Wear clothes that are fitted and comfortable, but not so snug that they're distracting.
4. Grab props: More advanced yogis sometimes shy away from grabbing props, but there's no harm in keeping them next to your mat. Grab a block, strap, and blanket before you take your seat. You'll never know when you'll need one.
5. Be quiet before class: I'm known to chat up a storm with fellow yogis in the moments before class, but do you best to stay quiet and turn inwards. Lay on your back or sit up with your eyes close to connect with yourself and prep for class.
6. Expect nothing: If this is the only piece of advice you take away from this list, you've learned a great lesson. Some days you're going to be able to fly into a crazy arm balance and other days things are going to be more difficult. Every day our bodies are working with something different; don't expect anything to look or feel a certain way.
Keep reading for six more tips for a better yoga practice.
7. Stop judging: You know that checking everyone out in the room isn't a good use of your time, you might not even be aware of how much you're comparing your progress to other students in the class. Keep your mind on your mat, and keep your attitude positive and full of possibility.
8. Breathe deep: It takes years and years to “perfect” your breath. Whenever a pose is feeling difficult or your feel some self-judgment creeping in, take deep ujjayi breaths in and out through your nose. They will help you release any tension or negativity and help you continue class with a more composed, calm perspective.
9. Listen to your teacher: Obviously, your teacher is going tell you which pose is up next, but don't tune them out once you're in a pose! I find that the tiny details or suggestions they offer once you're in the pose are the real gems. One subtle tip could help you develop a completely new relationship with a pose that seemed too hard — or too easy!
10. Smile more: Yes, I know; this one is corny, but it works. Once you're really flowing, your muscles have heated up, and your breath is connected to your movement, get grateful and start smiling. There's no need to plaster an inauthentic expression across your face for 45 minutes, but there is plenty of opportunity to stop taking yourself so seriously during class. Smile and mean it; you're taking care of your body just by being in class.
11. Try something new: If a pose comes around that you always skip or think you're “not ready” for, try it tonight. The only way we conquer challenging poses is by experiencing the fear and moving through it. You might not nail it right away, but the only way you'll eventually be able to hold it is if you try.
12. Stay in Savasana: Don't leave or mentally check out during Savasana! Let all of your lists and obligations go; I promise they'll be there after class. That five or 10 minutes of final relaxation is worth it, because you're worth it.