Today we welcome guest blogger Amber Barry from My Crazy Health Life. She describes herself as “an eastern-minded yogini, trying to find balance in the western world.”
And she really wants you to know, regardless of what you think, you really don’t suck at yoga.
Here are her top 5 tips to really rock that yoga mat!
How To Get The Most Out Of Your Yoga Practice,
I love yoga. It keeps me in shape, clears my mind, and calms my spirit. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no such thing as too much yoga…I would practice all day long, if I could!
But the reality is that I can’t. I have a husband, three little girls, and a business that needs tending to, so I have a limited amount of time to take yoga classes, and practice at home. I do my best to fit it in whenever I can, and try to do at least an hour a day…even if that hour comes in 20 minute increments in the morning, noon, and night.
While it’s never a good thing to rush our yoga, being tight on time does motivate me to make the most out of every practice. It forces me to think about what I want to accomplish, and how I can get it done efficiently. How can I get my heart rate up quickly? Which poses build muscle? Where do I need to create space in my body?
We can do a lot in a short amount of time, if we approach our mat strategically. Try these tips for making the most of your yoga practice:
1) Pre-hydrate. As soon as you get up in the morning, start the hydration process. Hydration is an important part of preparing our bodies for yoga. Drink an 8 oz. glass of water upon waking, every single day. It’s also a good idea to have a bottle of Drink Chia before you meet your mat, to prevent fluid loss during your practice.
2) Set goals. Believe it or not, there are a lot of ways to measure our progress in yoga! Try to set goals for how long you hold your poses (five, ten, or sometimes twenty full breaths!). Commit to learn poses that have eluded you in the past. And, every now and then, have someone take pictures of the poses you are working on, so you can see what you need to do, to improve the pose. It might sound crazy, but it works!
3) Just try it! If you think you might be able to go farther in a pose, or want to learn how to do something you’ve never done before, go ahead and try it! Listen to your instincts, proceed with awareness, and give yourself a chance to find out what is possible. Even if you don’t succeed, you will have pushed yourself a little further than before. It all adds up!
4) Make every second count. Push yourself a little harder, each time you meet your mat. Hold challenging poses, such as chair pose, for two breaths longer than you normally would. Add extra chatturanga push-ups during vinyasas (I do three every time!), and bring your knee to your nose or elbow, and hold for three breaths, during the transition from Down Dog to Warrior Poses.
5) Believe that you can. Reject the idea that you are not flexible, not strong enough, and not able to do the more challenging poses. We are capable of much more than we think! Everyone starts somewhere, and everything is possible in yoga.
My favorite thing about yoga is that it always meets us where we are, and promises to take us where we want to go. All we have to do, to get what we need, is stay in the moment and practice with intention.
Amber Barry is a yoga instructor, wellness coach, writer and speaker in Atlanta, GA. You can read more about her love of all things healthy at mycrazyhealthylife.com.