There are some that think that yoga is only for the super limber, but that’s just pretzel logic. Yoga is a great way to exercise not only your body but also your mind. When practiced regularly yoga can develop flexibility and physical, mental, and spiritual strength. Whether you are using it as your primary workout, or as a supplement to your regimen, here are some suggestions on how to maximize the quality of your mat time.
Be ready for class
There are several ways you can prepare yourself and make the most out of your practice. Make sure time is on your side. You will be more at ease if you show up early for class. You don’t want to end up stressed about parking in that one spot that might be street sweeping when you are supposed to be Zen. Leave enough time to arrive early enough to stake out a spot for your mat. Dress in fitted and comfortable clothing that won’t distract you (or everyone else) during your practice. Try to get in the right headspace before class. That sometimes means quieting the mind and refraining from chatting with your mat neighbor, even if they do have a hot take on that last episode of The Bachelor.
If you are Type A, most things in life are a competition. Yoga is not. It might be hard for your first few classes to surrender to the fact that yoga isn’t a contact sport and at the end of the hour no one comes in first. You don’t need to compare your form with others in the room because everyone is on their own path. The goal is to keep your eyes on your own mat and be present. Whether it’s touching your toes or setting back into child’s pose, remember to move with intention, and invest in every pose. Put those to-do lists out of your mind and flow. You are in the here and now, so show up for your practice.
Part of the point of a yoga practice is to relax and breathe, emphasis on the inhale, exhale part. Conscious breathing is the foundation on which yoga practices are built. If you find yourself holding your breath or breathing inconsistently during your vinyasa (a.k.a. yoga flow), take a moment to adjust. Breathe in and out through the nose, or what is called ujjayi breath. Remember to breathe, especially through difficult poses or discomfort. If you need to center yourself, you can try the following breathing exercise. In a seated position with eyes closed, place one hand on your stomach and one hand on your heart. Take a deep breath in through your nose, hold it, and release it through your mouth. When you feel in tune with your breath, you can rejoin the yoga flow.
There is a fine line between pushing yourself and hurting yourself. You don’t want to be the guy that got hospitalized for extreme yoga. Use proper alignment and keep track of your form, in order to keep yourself safe from injury and build a foundation for a stronger practice and body. If you aren’t ready to try a new pose or you are not feeling strong enough on a particular day, listen to your body. If you feel you might do yourself damage, you can release the pose and ask your teacher to modify the movement for you. Always remember: yoga is a practice, not a competition or a performance.
Replenish your body
Many think that yoga is a gentle workout but yoga classes can be strenuous exercise, so remember to drink water during class and throughout the day. The combination of sweat and certain poses will release toxins, so you may want to hydrate more than normal. Once your yoga session is complete, you will also want to restore your muscles, so why not put some yum in your om? A great protein for building muscle is our SFH Whey Protein Powder. You can use our Fuel powder in a protein-packed smoothie and then treat yourself to some post-yoga protein pancakes made with our Recover powder. SFH is here to supplement your yoga practice and help you create a strong body and mind.