Tips for keeping yoga simple! Five key considerations.
1. The breath
The first thing to bring our awareness to when we step on our mat is the breath. Start to lengthen each breath, aiming to equalise the length of the inhale and exhale. Balanced breathing allows us to tap into the calming qualities of the parasympathetic nervous system. Incorporate at least 5 minutes of focused breath work, sitting or lying still, before moving into an asana practice.
In yoga, the spot where we focus our gaze is referred to as the ‘drishti.’ The drishti is an outward focal point for an inward gaze. By focusing our eyes on one spot in each asana we can cultivate a one-pointed focus, improving the quality of our practice. Using the drishti enables us to stay with the breath and quietens the mind.
Practice with intention. Take a moment to set an intention at the start of a session. An intention doesn’t need to be complicated and can be as simple as committing to follow the breath for the whole practice. Another great way to work with intention is to offer the energy of the practice to someone in our lives that needs an extra boost of positivity. Setting an intention is a powerful tool and acts as a reminder to spur us on when we are finding our postures challenging.
4. Cultivate kindness
Often the temptation is to push our bodies into the furthest expression of an asana in order to emulate the cookie cutter asanas we see in magazines, online, or on a neighbours mat in class. In doing this however, we miss the real benefits of the practice and may even be doing more damage than good. Avoid this temptation and notice when you are pushing too far in your practice. Instead of forcing it is far better to back off, cultivate kindness and see if we can soften in the pose. Remember that yoga is the combination of strength and surrender.
5. “Practice and all is coming.” Don’t give up.
Pattabhi Jois coined this well-used phrase. The more we practise the deeper we go. Whatever our practice looks like, if we commit to continually coming to our mats, even when we don’t feel like it, we will reap the benefits. Our practice doesn’t have to be perfect, we simply have to put in the work.