Feel like your yoga practice has reached a plateau? We’ve got 12 quick and easy tips to keep your practice evolving.
1. Hydrate all day: Stopping to sip in the middle of your yoga practice can mess with your flow, so it’s vital to arrive to class hydrated. Focus on drinking water all day long — you’ll be amazed at what a difference it makes.
2. Show up early: Rushing into the yoga studio with a flustered mind and no time to prepare gets your practice off to a rough start. Give yourself at least 10 more minutes than you think you’ll need so you have plenty of time to change into your yoga gear, find your favorite spot to unroll your yoga mat, even sip some tea!
3. Dress the part: There’s nothing worse than having to hike up the waistband of your yoga pants or make sure you aren’t spilling out of your tank top all class long. That’s not where your brain should be during Downward Dog. Wear clothes that are fitted and comfortable, but not so snug that they’re distracting.
4. Grab props: Advanced yogis often shy away from grabbing props, but there’s no shame in keeping them next to your mat! Grab a block, yoga strap, and blanket before you unroll your mat. You never know when you might need one.
5. Be quiet before class: I’ve been known to chat up a storm with fellow yogis in the minutes before class, but to get your mind in the best place for your upcoming practice, try to stay quiet and turn inwards. Lay on your back or sit up with your eyes closed to connect with yourself and prep for class.
6. Expect nothing: Even if this is the only piece of advice you take from this list, you will have learned a great lesson. Some days you’re able to pop right up into a challenging arm balance, but other days things are going to be more difficult. Our bodies are constantly evolving and everything form our mental state to our last workout can affect how you practice. Don’t expect anything to look or feel a certain way from day to day.
7. Stop judging: You know that comparing your form to everyone else in the room isn’t a good use of your time and mental energy, so keep your mind on your mat and your attitude positive and focused on your own potential.
8. Breathe deep: It can take years to “perfect” your breath. Anytime a pose feels difficult or your sense some self-judgment creeping in, take deep ujjayi breaths in and out through your nose. This style of breathing will help you let go of any tension or negativity and continue class with a calm, composed perspective.
9. Listen to your teacher: Of course your teacher is there to tell you which pose is coming up next, but don’t tune them out once you’re in that pose! The tiny comments or suggestions they offer once you’re in position 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 — before!
10. Smile more: Yes, this one is corny, but it works! Once you’re moving through your flow, your muscles are heated up, and your breath is married to your movement, get grateful and start smiling. There’s no need to plaster an inauthentic expression across your face for an hour, but there are plenty of opportunities to stop taking yourself so seriously during your practice. Smile and mean it —you’re taking care of your body and mind just by being present.
11. Try something new: If there’s a pose that you usually skip or think you’re “not ready” for, try it during your next class. The only way we master challenging poses is by facing the fear and moving through it. You might not nail it right off the bat, but it’s all about the journey, right?
12. Stay in Savasana: Don’t get up or zone out during Savasana! Put your to-do list or dinner plans out of your mind; I promise they’ll still be there after class. Those final few minutes of relaxation are worth it, because you’re worth it.
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Originally published on YOGANONYMOUS.