6 Things You Shouldn't Overlook In Doing Yoga
Whether you are new to yoga or you've done it for “centuries”, it is not a practice that should be taken lightly. Yoga is a physical, mental, and emotional process of transformation, and it should be approached with a bit of respect and caution, no matter where you are on your yogic journey.
Critics of yoga say that it is not suitable for everyone; that there are some populations that it is considered inappropriate or unsafe for. Rest assured, it is possible for almost anyone to begin and continue a yoga practice without the risk of harm.
As yoga is considered a rigorous activity for body and mind, there are some things you need to keep in mind when practicing. There are some aspects of yoga that you shouldn't overlook; in paying attention to your body and to your surroundings, you are more likely to have a successful practice. Here are some things you should not neglect when thinking about your current (or starting) yoga practice:
1. Don't neglect your surroundings
Pay attention to what you are doing, dear yogi. Moment to moment awareness of your physical environment and the sensations going through your body are essential for safe practice. Is something hurting? Relax or stop your current pose. Is your mat bunching up underneath you? Adjust and move forward. Taking care of your needs before, during, and after practice will help you to gain more from your practice.
2. You have to warm up first
You might think that because yoga incorporates stretching postures, you don't have to warm up, but this is not the best practice for you. Most people need gentle warm-up movements to avoid unnecessary injury and muscle strain. Try some gentle stretches or do something for a few minutes that will warm up muscles to ensure that you get the most out of your session.
3. Pay attention to red flags
The practice of yoga should not bring you prolonged pain. If you engage in postures or positions that are painful, twisting, tearing, or otherwise uncomfortable, do not continue them! Ask your yoga instructor for modifications that you can do, or if all else fails, sit that part of the class out. No one will think ill of you for paying attention to your body and giving it what it needs.
By all means, if you experience shortness of breath, chest pain, blurry vision, or nausea, discontinue your practice and seek medical attention as soon as possible. Steady as she goes, because the class will be waiting for you when you return.
4. Choose the right outfit
Nothing is quite as uncomfortable as yoga practice in clothing that is ill-fitting or too revealing. Many an embarrassed student have ended up with his/her shirt over her head when in an inverted position because they failed to think through their choice of clothing before starting class. The process of finding the right yoga pants can be a bit challenging, it should be form-fitting but flexible top, and adequate sports bra will be an instrumental piece of your yoga puzzle. Choose wisely, and make sure you are comfortable before you start practicing.
5. Don't overlook the use of props in practice
Often times, we are able to deepen a pose and gain more from it with the use of props. Props help to encourage proper alignment, they reduce the occurrence of injury, and they make practice more comfortable. Consider investing in a yoga block and some good resistance bands to see how you can take your practice, and your benefits, to the next level.
6. Don't overlook pre-existing health conditions
You need to seek the counsel of your doctor and your healthcare team if you have pre-existing health conditions prior to practice. Disclosing information about chronic conditions, physical limitations, prior surgeries, and other medical information will help your doctor to give you advice on what is safe and not safe for your body. If they give you advice, please follow it to avoid further injury and discomfort. Better health and a more efficient practice will all come in due time.
Do you believe in the transformative power that yoga can have in mind, body, and spirit? Many people have seen dramatic shifts and marked benefits that come with their practice. It is not uncommon to experience shifts in body awareness, and improvement in relationships, and a greater sense of inner peace as a result of regular practice. Something as powerful as the centuries-old practice of yoga must be given its true respect, and the more you can prepare for a successful practice prior to class, the more you will reap the many benefits of yoga. Best of luck to you on your yogic journey!