It easy to forget that yoga was originally a deep spiritual practice of unifying the body, mind, and spirit, originating from the country of India. A gentleman named Patanjali wrote yoga sutras in 400 CE. Fast forward to now and it is certain that the western culture’s mass production of yoga and the yoga sutras has changed drastically from its origination.
Now, yoga is everywhere; in fashion, in videos, live streamed, and in almost every gym, not to mention the numerous yoga studios that have opened up locally and globally. Yoga is so accessible, but there is a sacredness in building and keeping your yoga practice at home.
You are more likely to connect with mind, body and spirit in the comfort of your own home. At yoga studios, it becomes far too easy to compare yourself to the Lululemon Barbies who inhabit every yoga studio and lose sight of the meaning of yoga, which means union. The union of your mind, your body, and your spirit. Yoga is about you and no one else.
Now to maintain the integrity of your hot yoga at home practice, here a few things to avoid.
5 Tips That Are Nothing to Scoff At!
1. Forgetting to Breathe
Your breath is the force behind your yoga practice. It is all too easy to breathe in and hold your breath unknowingly while maneuvering through the different poses that you have not become entirely familiar with. Instead of rushing right into doing every pose, learn the art of breathing first with your video.
Sit in the most comfortable seated position (examples being: legs folded under your behind, the fronts of your feet flat on the ground, or cross-legged) with your spine straight and tall, shoulders relaxed but back and square, and only do the breath work while watching the video. Then once you have the breathing down, add the yoga poses. You will be grateful for your patience in learning to breathe first; that breath work really helps prevent injury and teaches you to slow down.
In yoga, being the tortoise, slow and steady, brings the best results.
2. Pushing Yourself Past Your Limits
People see yoga and typically assume it is just about stretching. However, it is much more than that, as there are many important things to do while moving through each pose, like breathing, staying present, and listening to your body...all of this while learning and understanding the goal of the pose without losing the integrity of it.
Many of these poses have really deep expressions that even some of the most advanced yogis cannot do, so as a newbie, do understand you won't able to do them right away either. Yoga is a practice and not a race. Your body knows how far it can go, so learn to listen to it and do not go any farther.
Over time, the more you practice, your body will naturally sink deeper into the pose when it is ready and has been primed to do so over weeks, months, or years of practice. That moment is far more triumphant than injuring yourself because you pushed yourself too hard and too fast, keeping you from being able to experience the growth that yoga can guarantee when you pace yourself.
3. Not Relaxing
Yoga is not about anyone but you. When you watch a video or other advanced yogis, it is easy to want to be where they are. Keep in mind that took years of practice, so relax.
The best part of yoga is the journey; there is never an end goal. No one has mastered all the poses. It is an ongoing experience of growth and depth, mind, body, and soul. Enjoy that journey! It is incredible!
It is fun to watch your body stretch, heal, and strengthen in ways you could not fathom. It is fun to learn how to modify poses in a way that honors your body shape (yoga props are wonderful for this) and have others commend you for it.
Everybody is different; you will never be like anyone else, so relax and love who you are, where you are in every pose because no one can be in that pose exactly like you.
And that individuality and uniqueness is liberating.
4. Neglecting to Do Your Research
Do your research, especially when you learn yoga at home. Yoga rocks and can do some amazing things for the body - one being, helping you lose lots of weight - but it is far from a weight loss regimen.
There are lots of styles and types of yoga. If you do your research before you dive in, you will know what style and type of yoga is the best for your body and your health conditions. You won't just go for the fat-blasting, powerful, sweat-inducing hot yoga at-home option.
Sweaty hot yoga is awesome, but it can be intense for someone new to the yoga scene. Maybe that is not at all what you need. Perhaps a softer Yin Yoga or a meditative yoga like Kundalini is what you need, while you ebb and flow on the roller coaster ride that is life.
This pre-knowledge can also help you avoid hurting yourself and truly allow you to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of yoga.
5. Thinking of Yoga as a Workout
Yoga is actually an ancient practice used for healing and enlightenment and is not a fitness bandwagon craze like it has been marketed.
A long time yogi and teacher, Gillian Arthur said, “Yoga is not a practice of doing, but a practice of being.”
So remove the go-go-go mentality we have all assumed in too many areas of our lives and allow yourself to just be.
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Wrapping Things Up
Take these tips and build a powerful yoga practice at home. Learn the art of yoga, learn how to just "be" through your yoga practice, and at the core discover how to breathe.
Breathe with purpose in stillness and breathe with purpose while in movement.