How You Can Make the Most of Your Yoga Practice

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In his book Yoga for Men, Thomas Claire gives some excellent advice on how to get the most of out our yoga experience.

While yoga can encompass many practices, most people incorporate the exercise of physical postures into their yoga routine. The following suggestions will help you make the most out of practicing these postures.

¦ Try not to eat at least an hour before and after your session. Digestion diverts circulation to the internal organs and can draw energy and attention away from your yoga practice. A full stomach might also make certain postures that put pressure on the abdominal area uncomfortable.

¦ Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing. If possible, wear clothing made of all-natural products, as they allow the greatest circulation of energy. Remove contact lenses and any jewelry for optimum comfort. It is preferable to do some poses, such as certain balancing postures, with bare feet to increase surefootedness and sense of balance.

¦ Be as relaxed and comfortable as possible. If practicing on your own, try to find a space where you will not be interrupted. Turn off the phone or activate your answering machine. Dim the lights. Play relaxing music if you like. Burn some scented incense, light an aromatic candle, or diffuse some pleasing essential oils if that appeals to you.

¦ Make sure that the area where you will be practicing is warm. Keep a blanket or large towel nearby with which to cover yourself should you become cold during your practice or when lying in any relaxation poses.

¦ Be aware of your body. Pay particular attention to your breath. Synchronizing your breath with your movements can make your practice even more powerful and effective.

¦ Pay attention to any signals of pain your body might send you during your practice. Pain is the body’s way of warning of potential danger and injury. If you should experience any pain or discomfort during your practice, discontinue the posture in which you feel the pain, and rest.

¦ If you wish to use any props during your practice, assemble them ahead of time and place them nearby. Props that you might find helpful include nonskid, sticky mats (to aid your balance); wood or foam blocks; straps; belts; and other accessories that might help you achieve a position more easily and with greater stability and comfort.

¦ Be as regular as possible in practice. Try to find the most convenient time for you to do your practice, and do it regularly at the same time. Some people find early morning the best time to do yoga, while others prefer to do yoga at lunchtime as a midday break, or in the evening for relaxation after a day of work or before going to sleep.

¦ Try to perform a yoga session that incorporates a variety of postures that provide flow and balance.

¦ Most important, enjoy! Practitioners of yoga from its earliest days to modern times have attested to this ancient art’s ability to refresh, rejuvenate, and restore.

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Paul Lenda is the founder & director of SHIFT>, a conscious evolution guide, author of The Creation of a Consciousness Shift, intentional evolutionary & celebrator of life working to provide an integral role in the positive social transformation of humanity.