Little things make a big difference when it comes to making your yoga practice effective and enjoyable. Below are several rituals that I generally attend to in order to make the most out of my practice (my online yoga practice videos). These tips on what to do before, during and after yoga are functional in nature. Following them, however, may lead you deeper into a state of yoga, where our mental focus, physical form and spiritual depth are one.
Try these suggestions on for size and enjoy the ride!
Take a shower to warm up muscles, stimulate circulation and cleanse old or negative energy.
Don't wear lotion to active yoga classes, as it causes hands and limbs to slip on the mat.
Eat a light, nutrituous meal no less than 1.5 hours before practice; if that won't work, have a light, healthy snack before (fresh fruit is my go-to in this case).
Hydrate; before heated classes, drink fluids with electrolytes such as organic coconut water.
Avoid heavy caffeine or sugar intake so you can focus more easily.
Go the bathroom, especially #2, to make space in the body for deeper detoxification.
For athletic practice (like power vinyasa or hot yoga) wear slim-fitting clothes that keep your body parts in place and won't get in your way as you move; for restorative or yin practice, wear loose, comfy clothes and warm layers or socks as needed.
Remove bulky jewelry so you can focus more on your body.
Fasten long hair so you can leave it be and go within.
Give yourself time to arrive to a class to arrive in a calm state and deepen your breath.
Turn your phone to silent and let it go.
Bring props to your mat before you begin; I bring two blocks and a strap with me before any class, just in case.
Set an affirmative intention or mantra for your practice, like "I am focused" or "I am ______ (insert positive word that affirms your greatness). Don't be bashful. You are GREAT.
When distractions arise in the mind, turn your attention to your breath or to your affirmative mantra.
Know that you don't have to do everything the teacher instructs. If a posture or a moment to rest feels good, stay there as long as you want.
Breathe during transitions and treat them like a moving meditation.
Close the eyes in postures where you feel secure and focus inward.
Minimize non-essential movements for greater energy efficiency and attention.
Take small sips of water during practice as needed; don't chug.
Observe your thoughts with detachment in savasana let yourself drift off into inner space.
Move slowly to savor the feeling of peace within.
Seek quiet surroundings; if you're in a busy or loud place, play soothing music through headphones, or enjoy silence with noise-canceling headphones.
Hydrate; drink electrolytes if you sweat a lot in practice.
Avoid heavy caffeine or sugar intake to stay mellow.
Give your body some time to adjust and re-hydrate after class before eating a light, nutritious meal.
Treat the rest of your day like a moving meditation and breathe.
Please reach out with questions or comments, check out all my yoga practice and instructional vidoes, and feel free to add any other tips for fellow yogis below. If you're interested in going deeper with your practice, become part of my Urban Yogi E-RYT 200 Yoga Teacher Training Program.
In love and practice,