There really is no such thing as mistakes in yoga. It’s about the process and arriving on your mat exactly where you are in that present moment and working from there. Having said that, here are a few pointers to help you on your way.
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1. It’s not about the perfect pose
Asana, the physical practice of the poses is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to yoga. Asana is just one of the eight limbs of yoga that the Sage Patanjali wrote about in the yoga sutras over 2000 years ago. Other limbs include meditation, breathing exercises, self-study and practicing non-violence – to mention a few. The physical postures are normally the gateway into yoga practice for most of us; from there we start to think about all the other aspects that make it a holistic approach.
2. Keep it simple
It’s easy to get stuck on achieving the next fancy arm balance but that really isn’t the purpose of yoga. Yoga at its Sanskrit roots means to yoke or bind and is often interpreted as union. It’s about uniting mind, body and spirit as you practice the eight different limbs of yoga, as well as the journey you take towards those more advanced poses and what you learn along the way.
3. Everybody is different
Alignment and getting to grips with the placement of the body really is the framework for your asana practice and everybody is different. In a class environment, it’s unlikely a teacher will be able to give you their undivided attention, so it’s your responsibility to listen to your own body while taking instruction. Start to get to know how your body responds and what works for you.
4. Don’t overlook the breathing
The breath is key in yoga. If you’re not bringing an awareness to your breath, you’re not practicing yoga. In yoga, we focus on keeping the breath steady, even in length and ensuring we inhale and exhale through the nostrils. It’s breathing through the nostrils that keeps our nervous system nice and chilled. This is just one of the many benefits that sets yoga apart from regular exercise.
Sometimes a quiet, chilled and restorative practice is what your body needs.
5. Let go
Acceptance of where you are in your practice and in life can sometimes be overlooked while you’re trying to make progress. Yoga is about being present; surrendering to that moment. Sometimes a quiet, chilled and restorative practice is what your body needs; every now and then, there’ll be one of those days when no matter how hard you try, your hamstrings just aren’t going there! Practise no judgement towards others and no judgement on yourself. Just be.