7 Conscious Tips for a More Blissful Yoga PracticeBy Vitina |Comments: 0 | February 27, 2017
You know that feeling after a really amazing yoga class? When you start getting up after savasana and hope the teacher gives you a few more seconds in fetal position. You prop yourself up to sit and you don’t want to open your eyes.
Best feeling EVER.
I’ve been practicing yoga now for 8 years, the last 3 years more intensely after doing my yoga teacher training in India. I am currently doing my second yoga teacher training course and my practice started becoming less rewarding with the pressure and expectations I had of my mind and body. I started having attachments to the outcome of poses. As a result, I left after a whole 1.5-hour practice feeling incomplete and not blissed out!
Yoga is my medicine, my daily prescription for life. I had to bring myself back and remind myself why I practice. Find that balance of dedication and letting go. I was getting really good at distracting myself and started becoming a little more conscious of how I can achieve bliss again.
Here are 7 conscious tips I’ve learned over the years that you can add to your practice:
1. Be mindful what you eat before class
I say be mindful because I can share my routine but you know your body best. It has taken me a long time to figure out what is best for me. One thing for sure, you will not have an enjoyable yoga practice on a full stomach.
If you do a morning yoga practice and get up about 2 hours before, I would say go ahead and have a nourishing decent size breakfast. If you are like me and get up an hour before practice, some homemade almond butter bites or a light breakfast are enough to satisfy the hunger but not leaving you feeling heavy and uncomfortable during the class. If you tend to do more evening classes, have a healthy lunch and a light afternoon snack before that after work class.
Again, listen to your body and what it needs but it can be very distracting if you are full or your stomach hurts while flowing, twisting and moving your body.
2. Proper Yoga Clothing
I’m not talking about going out and purchasing this seasons colour leggings. Rather wearing something comfortable that won’t take you away from your practice. My favourites are long leggings, flowy shirts and a supportive sports bra.
Long leggings over shorts. When everything starts warming up and I start getting sweaty, long leggings help so I don’t slip on my thighs in twists or have my legs fall off my upper arms when in crow pose.
Flowy shirts I love because it makes me feel free in my flows. And a supportive sports bra so, you know, nothing falls out in downward dog and inversions.
Proper clothing leads me to my next point…
3. Try to avoid fixing your clothes during practice
If you come prepared to class wearing the proper clothing there are less distractions during your practice. This becomes a problem with wearing my favourite flowy shirts. I am constantly fixing my shirt and pulling it down when it rides up and shows off my stomach. Or you know the $10 pair of leggings you bought that slowly keeps inching down your gluteus Maximus (aka your butt)!
Try going through your next class without fixing and adjusting your clothing. Let your stomach show off a bit. Embrace it. This one little distraction, if let go, is a closer step to a more focused and blissful practice.
4. No water breaks
Trust me. I get it. When you just finished multiple rounds of sun salutations, a few warriors, extended side angle, hands down and flowing through back into downward dog. Sweat dripping down your face and your water bottle staring right back at you. How tempting right?
Think about it this way.
All that hard work you’ve done to create some fiery inner heat, that helps you to loosen up tight muscles and detoxify your body, can be put out in an instant by drinking water. Not to mention, every time you take a water break during class you take away from your flow, your breath, and your connection.
Make sure to drink 10-12 glasses of water during the day to hydrate yourself for class. I am telling you, this change will help you a lot to keep the flow going and for a rewarding savasana.
5. Stop the fidgeting. Don’t wipe the sweat.
Yes Sir (or Ma’am)! Both of these are a very Bikram style commands. As much as I love my sweet vinyasa flow, I started becoming conscious of my unnecessary movements. The first being all my fidgeting in downward dog. It may be my perfectionist side or maybe my hands slipping on the mat, but I have a habit of taking two steps inwards after I’ve landed in a perfectly fine downward dog. I’ve realized I make the adjustments to distract myself from the actual work. Rather than just sitting, exploring and being in the moment with the pose, I find anyway to take my mind off of the sensations I am feeling.
As for the sweat… It’s inevitable. Especially if you are in a hot room. But it’s the natural part of your body saying “thank you for moving and working me, here is a cooling gift for you”. No matter how much you wipe off your sweat, it will automatically continue producing. Avoid the instinct to keep toweling yourself off. It is just another distraction to keep you from the flow. Unless, of course, your eyes start stinging from drops of sweat. Please, wipe them!
6. Fix your gaze.
Maybe your teacher doesn’t always cue where your eyes should be focused. What I find really helpful is bringing the focus to my mat. No, I do not mean literally staring at your mat in every pose. It’s easy to start looking around, checking out your neighbor’s skills and then leading your mind to compare yourself to others.
For starters, in most poses, either bring your gaze to your fingertips or slightly forward to the floor in front of you. Always know this practice is about you and your journey, not comparing yourself to the person in class who is doing all the fancy inversions. There is a lot of learning about yourself during the process of getting into the more “difficult” poses for your body.
7. When in doubt, Focus on your breath.
When your mind starts wandering to the “To Do List” of things you need to get done after class, or when you start having anger towards the teacher keeping you in Utkatasana (Chair Pose) for 5 breaths too long, resort back to the trusted breath. It’s one of the most mindful techniques you can do to bring you back to center and the moment. Finding ease in a pose that doesn’t seem to get easier is a tricky one. Sending love and some good ol’ prana (some people say oxygen) towards the areas of tension, or even towards the teacher putting you through this, can really add to a more blissful savasana.
Oh, and remember, the teacher holding you in Utkatasana for 10 breaths is not trying to be evil, even though it feels like it at the time. He or she is just helping you flow through and release some built up tension that you’ve been avoiding.
We all have different reasons for practicing yoga. All of the health benefits could be one of them. But we all deserve the reward of a more blissful final pose, savasana.
Try these techniques or choose 1 or 2 in each class to see what helps you to achieve calm and more relaxation.
I would love to hear the techniques you do during class to achieve bliss.