Yoga is a very personal practice, regardless of whether you are practising in a class with others, or at home by yourself. The idea behind yoga is to help bring the connection between your body and mind closer, so that you can enhance your awareness of how you are feeling, both physically and mentally. Then there are all the other amazing benefits that yoga provides, such as increased strength, flexibility, and relaxation.
You may find that each time you enter a class, or practice at home, your experience is a little different from the last time. This is not so surprising when we consider how much the body and mind can change from one day to the next.
However, the key to a perfect yoga class is mostly about your attitude.
Here are some key points that you can implement to help ensure you get the most out of each yoga experience:
Preparation = Relaxation - The more prepared you are for a class, the more you are able to relax and let go of the thoughts and worries of the day so that you can be completely present in the experience. If you are practising at home, then considerations such as making your yoga space inviting and relaxing (using soft music, candles, incense or whatever you enjoy), switching your phone off and choosing a time you will be free from distraction, will all help prepare you for a perfect session.
Whether you are practising at home or attending a class, it is always important to dress in comfortable, non-restrictive clothing that allows you to move about freely. Make sure you bring a mat (some classes provide these for you), a towel and a water bottle so that you have everything you might need.
Pack An Open Mind - Another thing to remember to bring is an open mind. If you enter a class with a specific expectation of how it will run and how it will make you feel, then chances are you may get caught up on the fact it is not running how you anticipated and this disappointment will close you off from enjoying the other experiences to be had. So try to remain open-minded, embrace any changes and if you find your mind is rebelling slightly (as they do sometimes!) just become aware of this and do your best to breath through it and focus on your body and the practices at hand.
Leave Your Ego Outside - Yoga is not a competition, not is the goal of yoga to become the most flexible or strongest person in the room. Yoga is about listening to your own body and working with your own strengths and weaknesses. It is a very personal experience in this regard, so try not to focus on what anyone else can or cannot do and remember that some days your body will feel stronger and more flexible than others and that this is normal. If you need to, use the modifications, because contorting your body beyond what it has been conditioned to be able to do, will only set you back, not help you progress!
Let Your Breath Guide You - Your breath works like a link between your mind and your body. It is an excellent place to focus your attention, to help quieten the busy thoughts of your mind and ground your awareness into your body. Which is why breath awareness is an important aspect of yoga. By tuning into your breathing as you move through each practice, your awareness of your body is heightened and you become more present in the experience. Some practices may ask that you inhale and exhale for particular movements, however, if you are finding it difficult learning a new pose and getting the breathing right, don’t worry too much. You can focus on becoming comfortable with practice and then add the specific breathing afterwards.