I have only been practicing yoga regularly since I started working at NOURISH. Before that it was just MTV yoga dvd’s in the living room and an occasional free class if I could get a hold of a coupon. Since starting to do yoga more intensively at NOURISH, I have realized it is imperative to continue your practice on a regular basis. I feel more flexible, energized, relaxed and overall in better health if I do yoga at least once a week. In addition, keeping up with yoga helps me remember all the tips and adjustments I am supposed to be implementing!
Here are some things that I have learned at NOURISH which I like to keep in the front of my mind while I do yoga:
1. Keep your hands and feet active: Sometimes its easy to forget these extremities when you are concentrating on your back posture and the larger muscle groups involved in a pose. I felt and saw such and improvement in my practice after Victor gave me this little tip. Simply spreading your fingers or flexing your foot can activate more muscles and work them harder than letting your paws slack while you are in the pose. Flexing your foot makes the biggest difference for me in seated poses, where my legs can get lazy. It really helps stretch out my hamstrings and even gets into my back! As for your hands, Kate showed me that when you are in poses like spreading your fingers wide without raising your wrist too much can help make your arms more active and involved.
2. Make it challenging, not painful: On Sunday, Kate said something very important for yogis of all levels: The difference between sharp pain and a slight challenge for your body. We are constantly trying to push ourselves further in yoga, both physically and spiritually. These changes should be incremental and positive in order to be most effective. If you feel a sharp pain in any pose, you went too far! Try to slowly fall deeper into the pose with each breath or ask for an adjustment from the instructor if you are just plain uncomfortable in a pose. Challenge is imperative for improvement in yoga, but the changes you make must be controlled and smooth in order to be beneficial.
3. Smile with your buttocks: Try it! Literally try to make your booty smile. I like this tip not only because of the physical effects, but also because it never fails to put a grin across my face! It’s hard to explain in a blog, but just try to uplift your butt with your back and core. Kate taught me this one as well, and it really helps to make poses engaging and comfortable. I think this technique is implemented mostly in standing poses, but I just try to do it in class whenever Kate mentions it. Mention it next time you are in class and I am sure she will be stoked to teach how and when it should be done.
4. Enjoy! Victor sometimes says this after students enter a pose and will be there for a while. I think this is one of the most important tips I have learned at NOURISH. If you are not having fun and feeling great, something needs to change! Yoga should be a positive experience that de-stresses you and brightens your day. Sometimes in the grind of things, people forget that they are at yoga and are supposed to be letting go. Don’t think about what you did that day or what you will do tomorrow, think about how you feel in the pose and just relax! Leave your stress at the door and enjoy some physical and spiritual release, that is what NOURISH is all about!
Keep in mind that I am not a yoga instructor, so these tips should be used with caution! These are just some things I like to remember when I do yoga that have helped me over the course of my practice. So….as Victor says: Enjoy!