Whether you’re new to yoga or you’ve been at it for some time, there’s always room to gain a deeper understanding of your practice. New York City-based yoga instructor Grant Webb has worked with many yogis over the years at TMPL and has noticed a few misconceptions during that time. Here are a few things you should keep in mind before hitting the mat.
1. If you’re new to yoga, start with a beginner class.
This might seem obvious, but attempting advanced poses without proper training can cause more harm than good.
2. You may not like it at first.
No two classes are alike…even with the same instructor. Sometimes the session may not be your jam, but that doesn’t mean you should quit. Give it another go and if you’re still not into it, find a different class or instructor that flows better for you.
3. Don’t get frustrated by poses you can’t seem to master.
Again, don’t push your body into positions that you’re not ready for. Consistency and practice will get you there.
4. Go at your own pace.
But know that it takes consistency to improve. Regular yoga practice will help develop both mental and physical strength.
5. Controlling your breath is important.
Your breath connects your body and your mind. If you’re breathing heavily and feeling tense, your body will follow suit. The practice of breath control is called pranayama, and it’s a foundational part of any yoga flow.
6. You should speak up about any health conditions or injuries.
Make sure you tell your yoga instructor about any issues before class, just like you would in any other group fitness environment. Your instructor can provide adjustments for any positions that may not be suitable for your current state.
7. Nailing the pose is not everything.
People tend to focus so much on perfecting their form that they forget to stay loose and limber. Getting into a good warrior pose doesn’t mean stiffening up like a statue.
8. Yoga does build muscle.
There’s a misconception that yoga is only good for flexibility, not strength-building. But yoga focuses on isometric and eccentric contraction, which is crucial for building muscle.
9. You’ll learn new things about your body.
Getting into position helps with body awareness—you’ll feel a deeper connection to which muscles are engaging, and know right away what areas could use some more attention and strengthening.
10. Your mind is just as important as your muscles.
People tend to focus so much on the physical aspects of their practice that they ignore the mental part. It’s important to quiet your mind and stay centred during your practice.
11. You should take stock of how your body feels before and after class.
Yoga is all about being in touch with yourself and that’s true outside of your studio time. Becoming aware of how you’re feeling throughout the day can only improve your practice.
12. If you liked the class, let the instructor know.
A little feedback goes a long way…in yoga and just about everywhere else.
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com