People are drawn to yoga for numerous reasons, such as increased strength and flexibility, healing of an injury, mental clarity, creating unity of the mind and body, relaxation, or even just to walk away feeling calm and limber.
Whatever the reasons, the practice of yoga should be a personal experience. It is a period of time that you have set aside, to your focus on yourself. To become aware of how your body and mind are feeling in the present moment as you move through the different practices.
Regardless of whether you are being instructed alongside others in a class, or you are following your own sequence in the privacy of your own home, there is something truly satisfying about walking away from the perfect yoga session.
You may notice that the experience you have changes from day to day, which is a good thing, as long as you are in the right mind space to appreciate it! Just to make sure though, here are 5 simple keys that you can use to ensure that you are in the right frame of mind to enjoy the perfect yoga session.
Preparation - Preparation for your yoga session will vary depending on whether you are attending a class or preparing your own yoga practice at home. Either way, being prepared for your session will ensure that you can relax as much as possible, with minimal distraction.
If you are practising at home, try to organise a set time that you can practice your yoga when you know you will not be disturbed. Early morning or in the evening are often good times for this. Set up your environment so that it is conducive to you relaxing. You might like to light some candles or incense and have some relaxing music. It is a good idea to have a well-ventilated space with soft lighting and some water handy should you need some. Most importantly, wear comfortable clothes that allow you to move unrestricted!
If you are attending a class then a lot of the preparation will be done for you, however, make sure you enquire as to whether you need to bring your own mat or pillow, wear comfortable clothes and take a towel and water bottle with you.
Enter With An Open Mind - It doesn’t matter if you are a yoga newbie, or a more seasoned practitioner, approaching each yoga class with an open mind is an excellent way to ensure that you gain the most from the experience. Have you ever heard the expression ‘expectation leads to disappointment’? This couldn’t hold more true with yoga. The way your mind and your body feel often changes from day to day, and because of this, each experience or class will be slightly different to the last. If you enter expecting it to make you feel a certain way, or to practice particular asana, you may find yourself being caught up in feeling disappointed and missing out on the new experiences to be had.
Leave Your Ego At The Door - Try not to focus on the person next to you and what they can or cannot do, nor push yourself further than is comfortable and safe for your body.
‘Yoga is not about being able to touch your toes, it is about what you learn on your way down” - Jigargor
An accomplished yoga practitioner is not necessarily incredibly flexible, or incredibly strong. It is a practitioner who is able to work with their own body and mind to build strength, endurance, flexibility and awareness at a pace that is suitable for them.
Everyone has their own strengths as well as weaknesses. Yoga is about learning to listen to your own body, working to build on your strengths and improve on your weaknesses. One of the keys to the perfect yoga session is working to keep your focus on your on yourself in the present moment. Take note of how each practice makes you feel, both physically and mentally and explore this experience.
Connect With Your Breathing - Breathing is integral to yoga, as it forms the bridge between your mind and your body. By keeping your focus on your breath as it moves through your body, you are not only drawing your awareness to focus on how you are feeling, you are also deepening the experience of each asana. You may find that some practices will require you to inhale for one part of the movement, then exhale for another part. This is to increase the internal toning that occurs during each practice. However, if you are new to yoga and find it difficult to focus on the breathing whilst still learning the asana, it is okay to breathe normally until you feel comfortable with it.
Listen To Your Body - This might sound a little cliche, however, yoga really is all about listening to your body. Even though you might want to use yoga to help enhance your muscle endurance, strength and flexibility, this is not achieved through forcing your body into positions it is not yet ready for. You need to work towards them gradually. You may even find that some days your body is feeling stronger and more limber than others, yet on other days some asanas might seem a little more challenging. Don’t worry, as this is quite normal. Use modifications and or, blocks and pillows to help assist you when needed.
The experience you have during yoga often comes down to attitude. If you are well prepared, enter with an open mind, leave your ego at the door, tune into your breath and listen to your body, you are setting yourself up for the perfect yoga session!