Yoga isn’t just great exercise. It is a great way to center yourself and achieve mental clarity and calm. In fact, many people see it as a kind of ‘moving meditation’ that allows them to become attuned to their inner self and release negativity and stress.
Here are some ways to prepare yourself mentally and physically for your yoga session, so that you reap all the full benefits of this excellent exercise.
One of the secrets of a good yoga session is to synchronize your breath, your action, your thoughts and your feelings. You become ‘one’ and achieve a rare sense of calm and peace. To do this, start by breathing in through your nose and out though your mouth, using the throat to control the volume. Breathe slowly and evenly, filling your lungs from the bottom up. Your breath should be audible, say a high pitched ‘hmmmm’ as you inhale and a ‘haaa’ when you exhale. Keep breathing smooth—don’t gasp or expel too much air at once.
As you do this, focus on the breath, as if your mind were directing the flow of air through your body. When you breathe in, feel yourself drawing strength from your foundation and freeing the blocked or restricted parts of your body. When you breathe out, release tension and feel your muscles relax.
Your opening pose
The opening pose is called tadasana where your feet stand parallel and your joints are aligned (see our article on proper yoga aligment and posture). Your body should be perfectly straight so that your ears, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles are perfectly level. Keep your arms to the sides and the palms in.
Offer up the yoga practice as ‘me time’ and a way of honoring your body, your needs and your right to self-care. Send positive and loving thoughts to yourself, thanking your body for all the hard work and accepting its strengths and weaknesses. Affirm your strength and your inner grace, and with each movement, imagine energy flowing all throughout your muscles, empowering you for all that lies ahead after the session.
Photo from supernaturalbotanicals.com