Essentially, yoga is a group of mental, physical and spiritual practices that often involve discipline. This practice originated in ancient India with the main aim to control/still the mind through movement with intent.
Yoga was/is also used to strengthen the connection between the mind, body and spirit. It has played a huge part in our history as one of the oldest spiritual practices known to humans. To this day, yoga is still practiced and has made its way to the western world a long time ago!
While I could talk about the benefits of yoga for days and days on end, I wanted to talk about something else instead. In this article, I will be going over different ways to not only improve your yoga practice but also optimize it. Here are my 5 tips to take your practice to another level.
Join a yoga class
This is a great way to learn more about this practice. Traditional yoga consists of 84 asanas (yoga poses). When you are practicing at home by yourself or following a YouTube video, there is no one there to check in on you and your performance. When you are in a class, you have a teacher to guide you to help you make big and small corrections in your asanas.
You might need to make a tiny adjustment in one of the poses you thought you mastered that will make the world of a difference. Additionally, doing yoga at home means you can be more ‘lazy’ with it since no one is checking on you to make sure you are holding poses, for example.
Going to an in-person class can open you up to all kinds of things like variations you wouldn’t have known about otherwise, friends you may meet along the way, and an overall better understanding of the practice itself.
When you have a professional for guidance, you may be surprised at what you can learn and how far you can take your practice. A little bit of help sure does go a long way!
Meditate outside of your practiced
A big part of yoga is meditation, which can be very difficult for many of us to figure out. Getting into a physical pose is one thing and changing the state of your consciousness is another.
Practicing meditation outside of your time on your mat can allow your sessions to have more depth. Changing the state of your mind has a profound effect on the physical body as well. Meditation is scientifically known to decrease blood pressure and reduce physical symptoms of anxiety and/or stress.
Improving your ability to meditate will also allow your yoga sessions to go a lot smooth.
After/during meditation, our minds go into a heightened state of awareness, which can be a great tool for tuning into the physical body and being able to listen to it on a whole new level.
How we treat our bodies outside of our sessions has a significant impact on how well the mind/body will perform.
Ensuring you are experiencing regular movement/exercise outside of your yoga sessions as well as feeding your body with nourishment will allow you to unlock a higher potential that was there all along.
It is important to eat clean/nourishing foods, get enough sleep and incorporate movement into your life. However, another way of optimizing this practice is by using herbs and brain supplements. Using nootropics that stimulate the brain and body in unique ways can be very helpful to this practice.
For example, lions mane mushroom has been known to naturally boost focus without the overly-stimulating effects of other substances like caffeine. Taking this medicinal mushroom could help you in your practice since maintaining focus is key! Another great nootropic to have on hand is Ashwagandha.
This is one of the most important herbs of Ayurveda (the traditional system of medicine in India). It has been used for centuries alongside yoga practices to enhance the sense of well-being, content-ness and emotional balance.
Push yourself and branch out
Perhaps one of the reasons why you are not progressing is because you are simply not pushing yourself. Like many aspects of life, it is very easy to get comfortable and stay inside the comfort zone and yoga is no exception.
My suggestion above about going to a yoga class also fits into this as being in a group is likely to make you push yourself more than you would at home. There is a saying I like to use: you cannot move forward if you are standing still.
In this case, this saying rings true! You cannot progress in your practice if you are not pushing yourself. Don’t be scared to branch out by trying new types of yoga and/or new asanas that you may find intimidating.
You are much more capable than you likely tell yourself. Often, our own criticism and self-doubt are the primary source of our stagnance.
Hold that pose for a few more breaths, try that headstand and go to that class! Do more things in yoga that push you and your practice will inevitably expand.
When I first started my yoga journey, I was very happy if I could manage to show up on my mat and perform the poses for my sessions. However, I found it very tricky to consistency breathe with my poses.
A huge element of this practice is the breath. Once you are more comfortable with poses and transitions, you can start to focus on incorporating intentional breathing patterns into your flow.
Making sure you have control over your breath can help you reach deeper stretches, deeper states of meditation and sink deeper into your body. Not only does consciously breathing has many physical advantages, it also has many mental advantages. Manipulating the breath is a great tool to create a shift in your state of mind.
The brain reacts uniquely to the different methods of breathing, creating all kinds of changes in how you sit in the mind and body. Additionally, it can also help to encourage the flow state, which is essential for merging into your practice.
There are countless benefits that come along with optimizing your yoga practices. Some include but are not limited to boosted confidence, increased ability of self-discipline and improved self-image.
Yoga can be a powerful form of self-care with many therapeutic benefits. By taking your yoga to the next level, you may also find yourself falling in love with this beautiful practice all over again.
I hope this article is received by its readers as inspiration to show up to your mat with even more motivation than before. Unlock your full potential and optimize your yoga practice today!