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Learn to Love Yoga

Jun 24 2021
4 min read
man mediating on yoga mat with computer in front of him

While many people rave about how much they love practicing yoga, you may need to work at it a bit to reach that place of total devotion.

Adopting a new state of mind and routine, and adjusting to moving your body in new ways, can take time. But even five to 10 minutes a day of mindful stretching can brighten your mood, firm up your muscles and soothe you. If you’re like many others who practice yoga, you’ll be craving much more soon enough

To set yourself up to enjoy the myriad mind-body benefits it offers, try these tips:

Make Yourself Comfortable

Wear clothes that make you feel your best and allow you to move easily. Avoid shirts and pants that are very baggy as they can flap around while you change positions—that’s OK if it’s comfortable for you, but you may prefer clothing that stays put while you move.

Set the Mood

A yoga class may incorporate music involving bells, drums or chanting, but if you practice at home, feel free to play any tunes that relax you. If you’re surrounded by the pleasant sounds of nature, like a nearby ocean or birds chirping, you may want to use them as your soundtrack—whatever nourishes your spirit. In addition, make sure you’re not too hot or too cold. Open a window if the room is stuffy, or pick a spot away from a sunny window if you tend to get overheated.

Start with Simple Poses

Try these popular moves, then slowly add more challenging twists and inversions.

Strengthens back, buttocks, hips, legs and ankles, stretches the chest, neck, shoulders, and spine

Lie back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Gently walk your shoulders under your body and clasp your hands underneath your buttocks. Press wrists to the mat underneath you, and slowly lift your hips six inches off the floor to breathe deeply for 30 to 60 seconds. (There’s no need to take this to a full back-bend; just raise your lower half off the mat.)

Strengthens the spin, stretches the chest, lungs, shoulders, and abdomen, stimulates the abdominal organs

Lie belly down with your legs extended behind you, and try to touch all of your toes to the mat. Bring your palms to your lower ribs and use your hands and arms to press your chest off the mat. Keep looking ahead (and slightly downward) to stretch the neck. Hold your position and breathe for 30 to 60 seconds.

Don't Do It If It Hurts

One of the basic tenets of yoga is ahimsa, a Sanskrit phrase that translates loosely to “do no harm.” That self-care philosophy starts with you. If you’re in a class and a pose feels uncomfortable, go into a peaceful, restful pose, such as Child’s Pose: Kneel on the floor and sit on your heels, exhale and lay your torso down on top of your thighs. Yoga is about respecting your body, not keeping up with the person on the mat next to you.

Practice as Often as Possible

Even if you can only sneak in a few minutes of deep, from-the-belly breathing and stretching in your office, do it. The more you increase flexibility and cultivate a purifying breath—and reap the benefits—the more likely you will be to call upon these yoga foundations when you need to release tension in your body or calm down.

Keep it Consistent

Although you may only have 10 minutes to practice today, tomorrow is a new opportunity. To get to a place where your routine becomes second nature, aim to practice four days a week, even if you’re short on time.

Give Yourself Time

Allow yourself a few months to develop your relationship with yoga, especially when it comes to the more challenging poses. If classes don’t suit you, try following yoga online, downloading a yoga app, or booking a yoga retreat with a friend. Make yoga a priority, for both your body and mind, and allow yourself the grace to grow and change with your practice.