Yoga is a fantastic practice to promote health and overall well-being, but one of the most significant barriers to starting a yoga practice is the fear of the unknown. Yoga is also a complicated practice involving breathing, mental focus, and precise physical body movements, so it is difficult for newbies to know how to be successful at starting and making yoga a regular habit. If you are just beginning yoga or coming back to your practice after a while of being away from it, here are some tips that will allow you to have a successful and enjoyable yoga practice.
1. Honor your body
The first tip, no matter what your level is in Yoga, is to honor your body and accept where you are. A lot of the times, especially in my yoga classes, I will see students try and keep up with other people or just trying to be more advanced than they are. If you're taking a yoga class and the teacher's going at too fast of a pace for you, honor your body and slow it down. If you feel like you're pushing yourself past your limits just because you want to be as good as someone else or you feel like you should be more flexible than you are, please honor your body and accept where you are. Just be okay with where you are and know that that's always going to be okay. You're always going to be at your level, and that's perfect. Your level is perfect for you.
2. Remember to breathe
The next tip is do not forget to breathe, especially if you're going to go and take a yoga class or follow along with the yoga video online. Usually, the poses are lined up with a breath, for example, inhale mountain pose, exhale, forward fold. Please try and keep up with these breaths and always make sure that you're breathing slow and deep, getting a lot of oxygen and just really supplying yourself with a lot of air so that you can have the best yoga practice that you possibly can. Breathing will also help you stay focused and go into a more meditative state while you're practicing yoga.
3. Look inside
The next tip that I have is to try and not look at yourself in a mirror or pay too much attention to what your body looks like while practicing yoga poses. Try and close your eyes for at least half of the time that you're practicing yoga. This will really help facilitate a more meditative practice (called pratyahara in yoga speak) and a much more personal practice and relationship with yourself.
4. Don’t compare yourself to others
This leads me to my next tip, which is to really try and not look at other people practicing yoga. Try to not compare yourself to Instagram Yogis or people who are years ahead of you in their practice. If you're taking a class, try not to look at the other students or compare yourself because this will really defeat the whole purpose of yoga, connecting to yourself, connecting to your higher power and really appreciating your own body and your individual level and your own place.
5. Be consistent
The next tip is to be consistent with your yoga practice. With any workout or practice, you want to be consistently trying to practice yoga at least once a day. Even if that's just sitting down and taking a few deep breaths. Maybe you go into a child's pose in the at the end of your workday or practice some pranayama breathing when you wake up or chant using some japa meditation beads. Whatever it is, make a commitment to get into that yogic mindset at least once a day.
6. Notice how it feels
The last tip is to focus on how the yoga poses feels in your body and not how it looks. A lot of the times you might feel really good, but you don't like the way that you look in it, and so you want to adjust. You want to move your body so that it looks pleasing, and this is often not the best way to serve our body and to further grow our practice. Really pay attention to how things feel instead of how they look because that's really what yoga is all about.