Picture a serene room full of calm smiles, deep breaths, and mindful movements and you have an idyllic yoga setting. Peaceful instrumental music strums in the background as the sunlight peaks through the windows. Sounds perfect, right? Like just the place for tranquility and happiness! So why do some yoga sessions make you feel more stressed out afterward? Here’s a hint: It’s not about the setting. And it’s all about you. Here are 5 things you may be doing to sabotage the success of your yoga class, and easy fixes for each.
1. You Arrive Late
Nothing disrupts the first sun salutation like rushing in a few minutes late, squishing in between the rows to find a spot for your mat, and attempting to collect yourself after class has already begun. The first and last few minutes of class are arguably the most important and beneficial for your mental and physical health: crucial moments to slow down and check in with your mind and body.
Instead? Shoot for setting up your mat 10-15 minutes BEFORE the class is set to start. Use this time as much deserved “me-time” to stretch, close your eyes, do whatever you need to do to set your day aside and focus on what your yoga practice may bring you that day.
2. You Compete with Your Neighbor
Your yoga practice should be just that: yoga PRACTICE. This means there is no good or bad, right or wrong way to do it. As long as your alignment is safe, and you are not bringing harm to yourself or others, all is fair game. It might be tempting to check out the skinny-mini with her designer tank top in the front row (…how is her Warrior II lunge that low?!), but you’re not doing anyone any favors, especially yourself.
Instead? Keep your eyes closed if you have to, and focus on how your practice feels on the inside, rather than how it looks on the outside.
3. You Add to Your Mental To-Do List
Inhale arms up (“eggs, milk, spinach”), exhale forward fold (“run to the bank, fold my laundry”). Does this sound like your internal monologue during your class? It can be tempting to tune out and let your body to the work while your mind wanders. But the most powerful part of these 60 to 90 minutes are arguably your work on staying present.
Instead? Set your to-do list aside because you can always pick it up the second class ends. But for now, connect your breath and movements together so tightly that there is no room for any other thoughts.
4. You Eat Right Before Class
In general, it seems like a smart enough principle to have a snack to fuel your upcoming workout. Yoga, however, tends to be the exception to this rule. Because of the detoxifying and energetic effects that yoga has on your body, being too full can actually cause a lot of discomfort for you during class. Especially if you’re class of choice is in a heated room, your body is already working hard enough to keep you cool without attempting to digest your afternoon coffee and pastry.
Instead? Try to eat 2-3 hrs before class and save your snacks for afterwards. Try some of these killer post-workout recovery snacks.
5. You Push Too Far
While trying advanced poses can be a thrilling part about practicing yoga, throwing yourself into poses you aren’t ready for is a surefire way to injure yourself. A good teacher will lead you through a series of warm-up postures and prep poses as a way to train for a challenging move. If they don’t, it is up to you to know where to draw the line.
Instead? Honor your limits and give yourself the class you need. Besides, who doesn’t love some extra time in child’s pose?!
May 21st, 2014