Adapted from Hilary Phelps, MindBodyGreen
Whether you're just starting into your yoga practice or a seasoned veteran, it's nice to check in with a simple set of guidelines to remind yourself why you're practicing. Personally, I always like to remind my students that we call it just that: a PRACTICE! It is truly meant to be fun and simple and by no means perfect or stressful. Here's a list of guidelines to ensure the most enjoyable experience your mat can provide.
1. Arrive a few minutes before the start of class.
Give yourself enough time to select your space and get settled on your mat. If you're feeling rushed or stressed as you come into the studio just bring awareness to that and take some extra deep breaths.
2. Listen to your body.
Each and every yoga class is yours. The person on the next mat has a different life story, so make sure you do your class and not theirs. Beware of judgement and comparison, your practice will go exactly the way it was intended to!
3. Remember that every class is different & you're different in every class.
Every practice will be different and each time you arrive on your mat there will be new opportunities and challenges! That practice you had yesterday or last week is not the practice you may have today. I often find my mat is an indication of where I am in my day. If I'm scattered and distracted, it will show up in my practice.
4. Be present.
No phone, no computer, no mental grocery list making. This is your time. Enjoy it.
5. If you're new or have an injury, let the teacher know.
This awareness helps them teach as much as it helps you practice. Know your limits and stay within them. NEVER practice from a place of physical pain.
6. Have fun. It's just yoga!
Who cares if you fall? It makes no difference if you choose child's pose over downward dog. (Also, see #2 above.) Many poses share similar benefits so you don't need to force yourself into anything. By engaging in mindful breathing you are practicing yoga!
This is your time. That's a really good feeling.
8. Focus on calming breaths.
There are some days where I lay down for the final relaxation and my mind is still racing. When this happens, I don’t get up and leave. Instead, I count my breaths in and my breaths out, each to a count of six. My mind isn’t completely still, but it’s better to focus on calming breaths than remind myself, over and over, of a task I have to complete later in the day.
9. Find a yoga style that you enjoy.
There are different types of yoga: heated, traditional, vigorous, and restorative. One class will hold a pose longer, building strength, while others flow through a sequence quickly, elevating your heart rate. Find one that you enjoy or that perfect weekly mix. It's about consistency, not style.
10. If you don't like one style of yoga or you don't click with a certain teacher, find another one.
There truly is a practice for everyone. Each teacher is unique, with a distinct teaching style, voice and practice. For me, yoga channels my busy mind and allows me to tap in under my skin. I leave feeling renewed, inspired and connected. When I practice with my regular teachers these outcomes are the most apparent because they guide me so effortlessly.
From contentment unsurpassed happiness is obtained.
Patanjali's Sutra 2.42
Keep practicing, keep smiling, keep ON!