Yoga is one of the most potentially fulfilling and physically comprehensive exercises out there. It works all the major muscle groups, improves balance, and increases flexibility. But are you getting the most out of your yoga practice? A few minor adjustments in key areas can have a major impact in the satisfaction that yoga brings to your life.
One thing you don’t want to be doing is constantly fiddling with your clothes while you’re trying to do your yoga. It can be distracting and can keep you from getting into your poses as deeply as you possibly can. Invest in at least one pair of proper yoga pants, and an appropriate top. You don’t want clothes that are too restricting, of course, but clothes that are too loose can get in your way, too. There’s nothing worse than being in a perfect headstand in the middle of a packed studio, and then having to come out of it in a hurry because your shirt has flopped down over your face, blocking your line of sight while revealing your bra to the entire room. And speaking of bras: full coverage sports bras without an underwire are best. Don’t try to wear a regular demi-cup or balconette, because the first time you tilt forward or backward, you’re going to come spilling right out of it.
If you practice yoga at home and it is a part of your daily routine, make the effort to buy whatever accessories you need. You may think that your carpet is a good enough place to do your asanas, and it will certainly do in a pinch, but yoga mats are inexpensive, and are designed to keep you anchored, allowing you to focus your energy toward something other than keeping yourself from slipping around. Even if you attend a class at a gym, having your own mat can take away any concerns about how clean the communal mats in the studio are. Likewise, you probably have things in your home that you can substitute for blocks and belts, but if you get yourself the real items, it really will make a noticeable difference in your positions.
As far as frequency is concerned, little and often is better than big blocks of intermittent practice. Even ten minutes a day of basic poses is better than going to a mammoth three-hour class and then not doing any yoga for a month. Also, if you are doing yoga at home, make sure the place where you do your practice is quiet and free of distractions, like ringing phones, so that you can get yourself in the right frame of mind and hold your concentration. If you can, take a few moments at the beginning of your practice to sit quietly and gather your focus, much like you would do at a yoga class in a studio.
The most important part of yoga, of course, is to lose yourself in the movements and let it stretch and energize your body. Making small changes to your practice can allow this to happen more easily, and being just a little bit more comfortable or relaxed when you come to your mat can make the difference between a good yoga session and a great one.