Beginning a yoga practice can feel frustrating, stressful — maybe even boring! But stick with it. Coming back to your mat again and again will improve your body, mind and spirit beyond levels that you even dreamed imaginable.
Find a blissful yoga practice by following these simple steps:
1. Maintain a regular practice
Practice and then practice some more and then practice again. Yoga gets easier and more fulfilling the more you practice, and eventually it becomes an indispensable part of your day. I prioritize going to yoga like I prioritize going to work or drinking a cup of coffee in the morning — it is a necessity.
That’s not to say that you have to practice every day. But I’ve found that I begin to struggle to get back on my mat if I take more than three days off. Can’t make it to a class? No problem. Practice a few Sun Salutations or follow along with a yoga video.
2. Find instructors who resonate with you
There are a lot of yoga teachers out there, and you’re not going to love them all equally. I’ve found that the yoga instructors who resonate with me the most have certain energy that I can’t clearly define. I just know it when I feel it! I recommend trying various classes and teachers to discover who you click with.
3. Change it up
Add variety to your practice. As with anything else, doing the same thing over and over again gets boring. Try different types of yoga, experience different instructors or add variations in class as you see fit. Living in Boulder with countless yoga options has made me a bit spoiled, so I try to go to each instructor’s class only once a week so I can have variety in my practice and not get burned out on my favorite teachers.
4. Focus on your breath
In yoga, there are often moments of stillness and silence. For many of us, silence can be torture. But focusing on the deep inhales and exhales in yoga helps to quiet the mind. When you find your mind racing, forget about the physical practice and bring your attention to your breath. It works!
5. Go to your edge, but don’t go beyond it
Although yoga isn’t supposed to be competitive, yoga practitioners often find themselves trying to get into the posture a little bit deeper. That’s great — within limits. In your practice, focus on finding sensation and getting to your edge, but don’t go beyond it. That’s where injuries and frustration tend to bloom. Yoga is supposed to be a lifelong practice — don’t ruin your body by sinking into your joints or allowing yourself to feel actual pain.
6. Take a day off
Yoga is addicting, especially when you’re practicing regularly. However, when you find your body longing for rest and your mind is telling you that it would rather be anywhere else, take a break. Taking the day off can help rejuvenate your body and your enthusiasm to practice. Yoga should be something you love, not something you have to do.
7. Laugh at yourself
Yoga’s a practice. That means that we are all just trying to improve ourselves. Trying new things can be messy, embarrassing and anything but graceful. I regularly fall on my back when practicing Handstand and sometimes completely lose track of which side we’re working on. That’s okay! We are all human. Greet your imperfections with a smile and don’t take yourself so seriously. Have fun, fall on your face and then do it again.