To keep from hurting yourself
- Talk to the teacher before class. Let her know if you have any injuries or medical conditions, or any concerns about class.
- Always warm your muscles up slowly. Walk. Stretch. Massage your limbs. Take a hot shower.
- Remember: The "no pain, no gain" adage doesn’t apply to yoga. You can feel good while improving your health!
- Move slowly and listen to your body. Never force your body into any posture until it hurts. Forceful movements produce a build up of lactic acid, causing fatigue and injury.
- Don’t try to compete with the next guy…or even yourself! You might not be able to do today what you did yesterday.
- Find your own edge in each yoga pose—the point just before discomfort occurs. Then allow yourself to slowly grow into it at a comfortable pace.
- Don’t tense when encountering discomfort. This furthers the tensing of the muscles. Breathe into, and be open to releasing, the blocked area.
- Do not stay in postures for a long time at first. It is better to repeat the postures. Stay longer as you get stronger.
- Take care of your own needs in class—whether that’s by taking a break, observing instead of doing, or modifying a pose to make it more comfortable. You can use child’s pose, or another resting pose, focus on your breath and rest the body.
- Use your breath as a guide. If you cannot breathe smoothly and deeply, you may be working too hard or be at risk for injuring yourself. If you become out-of-breath or fatigued, stop. Yoga is not circuit training. Rest is encouraged within a session, so you can be aware of the affects of a posture and recover.
- If you have slight muscle strain, ice it down. Give it a few days to heal.
- If you have any lingering pain, consult a doctor immediately. Don’t wait for it to become chronic.
When to practice
- As often as you can. A daily practice of even 10 minutes is a great start. But just coming to class once a week can bring positive change. Self-discipline—tapas in yoga—is good. But don’t force yourself. A yoga session should bring peace and joy...and not be "one more thing" to add to your busy schedule.
- On an empty stomach. Allow at least one hour before class or home practice after eating a light snack; at least two hours after eating a larger meal.
- In the morning before breakfast. When your mind is clear and your energy is high.
- In the evening, before bed. Relieves tension. You’ll sleep better!
- Any time you’re mentally tired and need to restore energy or peace of mind.
Other practice tips
- Breathe deeply and evenly through your nose throughout the session. Do not hold your breath. Doing so tightens the body and restricts the flow of cleansing oxygen.
- Stay mindful. Every action in yoga is intentional. Take the time to understand and approach a pose or movement at your own pace. By paying close attention to alignment and action, even challenging poses will eventually become possible and comfortable.
- Turn your attention inward. Observe your body, breath and mind as you work. Be aware of where you feel stretches and how your body is responding. Nurture feelings of lightness, elongation, openness, steadiness and strength.
- When postures are repeated on one side and then the other, do each side for the same amount of time.
- Generally, exhale on forward-bending/closing of your body. Inhale when back-bending/ opening your body.
- Take the best, and leave the rest. In any given class, some poses will feel good and others will not. Some movements will feel exhilarating, and others won’t. Notice what feels right for your body. You can begin to include these practices in your everyday life, when you can’t make it to class.
- Try to keep a yoga journal…to see your growth. Log expectations or intentions, thoughts, changes.