Yoga is an ancient practice having its origins in India. Yoga is an amalgam of breathing techniques, physical postures, and relaxation. Today, this age-old practice has become a way of life for many people across the world. Yoga acts as a powerful antidote to our hurried stressful lifestyle. It offers bodily, psychological as well as spiritual well-being.
Yoga is readily available to most of us. However, this practice should be done in a proper way to reap optimal benefits. There is always an opportunity for upgrading and refining your yoga routine. We bring you some simple ways to enhance your yoga practice and improve your health.
1. Maintain Consistency
Yoga is a near-spiritual practice and needs a lot of discipline and consistency to reap its benefits. You must perform yogic exercises regularly. Your strength, focus, and flexibility will improve if you practice yoga with increased frequency. You can easily maintain consistency by downloading yoga videos and apps to your benefit. Alternatively, you can join yoga studio classes in your neighborhood. This can help you to connect and get the support of like-minded folks. It is imperative to know that in yoga practice, besides consistency, the quality of your yoga regimen precedes the quantity. In other words, practicing a proper 30-minute yoga session is more beneficial than an hour-long session marred by carelessness and distractions.
2. Find the Right Tutor
Finding the right instructor is vital for improving and acing your yoga practice. Yogic postures need to be done with utmost care and attention to detail to reap their benefits. Otherwise, you might experience pains and strains due to practicing physical poses incorrectly. Moreover, many of us switch to yoga to get relief from some health issues. So, only a seasoned yoga teacher will know which yoga postures and breathing techniques might be more beneficial for us. The teacher can then accordingly plan your yoga routine.
Furthermore, yoga is practiced in as many as 11 different styles. There is a lot of disparity between these different yogic styles. For instance, Vinyasa yoga is all about fluid movements and breath, but, Kundalini yoga includes chanting mantras, singing, poses, and breathing techniques. So, you need to know which yoga form is most suitable for your needs. This will require you to embrace an attitude of curiosity and exploration while searching for an apt yoga class.
3. Practice Pranayam
Many yoga routines include pranayam during a yoga session. Usually, pranayam follows physical yoga postures. You have to lie in Shavasana after concluding your physical postures. Pranayam includes some rhythmic breathing techniques that are mostly deep, slow, and consist of diaphragmatic breath. Pranayam is based on the premise that we are usually unaware of our breath and end up with short breaths. This creates an imbalance of prana or energy in our physical and mental space. We have to complement our yoga sessions with some unique deep breathing techniques. This can help us achieve an energized body and boost mindfulness. Besides, certain pranayamas like ‘Kapalbhati’ and ‘Anulom Vilom’ are powerful enough to have positive, long-lasting effects on our body and mind. Regular pranayama practice can relieve stress, improve focus and help us sleep better. The list of health benefits that can be accrued through pranayama is endless. So folks, enhance your yoga practice by concluding your yogic sessions with some deep breaths 😊
4. Mantra and Mudra
A mantra is a sacred phrase, word or syllable that is recited to support our meditation or to invoke the divinity. Some of the common mantras are the Gayatri mantra, Pavamana mantra, and the sound of Aum. Mudra is a spiritual gesture performed with the hands, fingers, and body. Mudras are often used in conjunction with pranayama to stimulate different parts of the body involved with the breathing and to affect the flow of prana in the body. Some of the commonly used mudras are Jñana and Chin mudra. Jñana mudra invocates knowledge or wisdom; Chin mudra is the psychic gesture of consciousness. Adding mantras and mudras to your yoga practice helps strengthen your psychic abilities, willpower, devotion, and the power of manifestation. Try it in your next yoga class!
5. Learn Meditation
Meditation is a practice where you intently focus your mind. You have to remove jumbled thoughts that may be causing chaos in your mind. Though easier said than practiced, meditation requires patience and perseverance to achieve that elusive state of inner peace. However, you can start with some simple meditation techniques. For instance, mindfulness meditation makes us focus on our breath. The premise is to make ourselves more aware and remain in the present moment. When we combine meditation with yoga practice, our stress levels reduce. Moreover, we can improve our focus and connect meaningfully with others.
6. Cardio and Functional Exercises
Although yoga makes you strong and flexible, adding cardio can take your physical practice to a whole new level. Even the most dynamic Vinyasa yoga classes lack the stamina required by aerobic exercises like jogging, swimming and cycling. With improved cardiovascular health, you’ll notice your yoga practice would flow much easier without fatigue. Best yet, take it outside and enjoy the fresh air in nature. Functional exercises like burpees, triceps dips and squats are the best way to strengthen the muscles used in yoga. Yoga in itself will strengthen most of our muscle groups, however functional exercises can specifically target certain areas, thus balancing out your body. Consider trying out the gymnastic rings, which develops coordination, core stabilization, flexibility and strength throughout the body.
7. Scriptural Study
Most of us already know that our yoga practice is beyond yoga postures and yoga classes. Ultimately, the goal of yoga is to steady the mind and strive for Self-Realization. Svadhyaya means ‘self-study’ and often refers to studying ancient yogic scripture. Upon many revered scriptures, some of the classics include The Yoga Sutras, The Bhagavad Gita, Hatha Yoga Pradipika and The Upanishads. These yoga scriptures are written many centuries ago and are endowed with infinite knowledge from enlightened beings like swamis, sages, and yogis on how to reach Self-Realization. If you’re serious about yoga and its significance beyond yoga postures, scriptural study is a must.
8. Practice Ethics
‘No Yamas, No Yoga’ is a famous quote by Sri Dharma Mittra. Yama (ethics) is the first limb of the Eight Limb Path also known as Ashtanga Yoga. There are five Yamas: Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (right use of energy), and Apraigraha (non-grasping). One of the best ways to deepen your yoga practice is to take your practice off the mat. You can practice Ahimsa by becoming a vegan, paying your taxes accurately for Asteya, and donating excess clothing to your local charities for Aparigragaha. Expand your practice by doing yoga asana one or two hours daily and keep to the ethics for the rest of the day.
9. Shut your mind off
Easier said than done, right? Well, we’ve got your back. Here are three ways to stop your mind from stressing and wandering:
• Slow down everything, including your breath and your body, and listen to the music, says Dubery of how she becomes more in the present for yoga. “There are times when I walk away absolutely exhilarated and with a sense of ecstasy following a practice.”
• Forget about the “idea of yoga,” says Marks. “When I first started practicing, I thought yoga was all about cool poses, looking athletic and being flexible. After I started practicing [regularly] was I able to recognize the mental benefits of yoga for my whole being and not just my body.” It’s not a competition, she adds. “I concentrate on letting go of all self-judgment and self-criticism.”
• Think about your core muscles, says Cruikshank. Moving with ease from pose to pose and breathing with purpose and on cue comes from a deep awareness of these stabilizing muscles.
10. Prioritize and Sanctify your Practice
Make a specific spot in your home that is specifically reserved for your practice. When you roll out your mat, you are in your own little yoga studio, so be there! Don’t roll it out and then walk away and get on Facebook (guilty – I’ve done that – it does not benefit your practice!). Creating a small altar or having a special picture, token or candle there to mark this as a sacred space for intentional practice will help you. When you practice, make practice your sole focus. Turn off the phone, music and computer. Honor your practice time as sacred and important. Make boundaries around yourself for your practice time. If you are in a house with other people, you will need to gracefully practice conscious communication with them in order to protect your uninterrupted practice time and space.
11. Getting the Right Sequence
So, maybe you don’t want to do the same sequence every day? That’s cool; sometimes I like to just “play,” Vinyasa style, on my mat. If that’s what you are going to do, make sure your practice is balanced with plenty of poses.
Tips for smart sequencing:
- Start by getting in touch with your breath. Ujjayi Pranayama in child’s pose or a seated position works well.
- Warm up the spine and backs of the legs slowly with some nice gentle stretches – cat/cows, rag doll forward fold, gentle lunges are all good options.
- Sun Salutations are essential! Both Surya Namaskar A and B. Really follow the breath. Be precise through the vinyasa positions—don’t skimp on your Chaturangas!
- Include standing and balancing poses: Personally I don’t think a practice is complete without Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) or Parsvokonasna (Extended Side Angle Pose). The twisted variations of each of these poses are wonderful as well. Give your hip flexors some attention with runner’s lunge/lizard or a low lunge with the arms arching up overhead for a nice heart opening sensation.
- Include seated poses, forward folds, twists and hip-openers. Always practice equally on the left and right sides.
- Include focus on building core-strength with strong, long Chaturangas and poses like Navasana (boat pose), forearm plank and side plank.
- When you are properly warmed up, practice backbends: Maybe just start with a Bridge pose. Locust, Bow and Camel are all great poses to build strength around the spine and to really open the chest.
- Always practice a gentle forward fold to neutralize the spine after back bending.
- End with inversions and other quieting poses (maybe some passive forward folding or restoratives).
- Savasana – give your body the time to integrate all of the energetic movement that you facilitated through asana. Let your mind and body relax and be receptive.
- Sit and Meditate.
- Last but not least — express gratitude! Give thanks! You are blessed to be practicing yoga – don’t forget that! An attitude of gratitude opens doors and hearts.
12. Combine Kratom with Yoga
You can happily engage in exercise, meditation, and yoga with kratom, especially Gold Bali strain. It not only eliminates the sudden fatigue you feel after the gym and stretching, but it also improves your health from head to toe. However, it is advisable to keep the dosage of kratom in mind as it varies from person to person. Kratom also comes in different flavors that correspond to different benefits. Make sure to read the labels carefully and read more about benefits and effects of gold bali before buying. A smart choice would be to consult your nutritionist before consuming Kratom. Stay fit and active!
These tips can sure come in handy in helping you gain maximum benefits from your yoga practice. However, remember that your yoga practice is not merely a form of exercise. It should give you joy and inner peace while making your days less stressful. Finally, learning to contemplate and review life with a lucid vision are the hallmarks of a true yogi.