Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, has deemed June 21st the International Day of Yoga. He stated this day of importance, as “yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition.” Not a hardcore yogi? Check out these 5 steps to help you get there.
Yoga – defined as a Hindu philosophy where a person can experience inner peace, body and mind. It is an ancient mental, spiritual and physical practice that started in India over 5,000 years ago. The word derives from the Sanskrit word ‘Yuj’, meaning “to join” or “to unite”.
I’ve always been fascinated with yoga and have always wanted to understand the practice, however, I always considered myself a non-flexible person as I grew up playing soccer – so I never really tried. Well, I guess that’s a lie, I did try – and my mother and sister til’ this day bring up how painful I looked throughout the duration of the class. Although, I’ve learned that this is a myth – you don’t necessarily have to be flexible to do yoga. News to me!
However, now living in Colorado I figured I’d give it a try again. Especially with the hundreds of yoga studios in the area, it’s pretty incredible! If you’re like me, don’t be scared – it’s definitely worth it! So here are 5 steps on how to improve your overall yoga experience:
1. Respect the limits of your body
Okay, like I said, I am the least flexible person in the world but I see people doing a handstand scorpion or a king pigeon pose and I’m like ‘hey cool I want to do that!’… absolutely not. It’s important to start slow and gradually work your way up to these more advanced positions. Trust your limits and remain stable, comfortable and don’t hurt yourself. Do as much as you can and accept it; the rest will come. It’s not about being flexible; it’s about gradually increasing your limits. Downward dog? I got this!
Take deep long breaths and make sure to relax. Breathing longer and deeper will assist in your relaxation and maintain your posture; breathing correctly will assist you biologically, emotionally, energetically and physically; breathing consciously will assist in connecting with the subtle energy within. Overall, breath controls the body, mind and emotions. See why it’s so important? Just breathe!
When yoga and meditation are practiced together, the mind and body connection is strengthened which improves overall fitness and well-being. This also reduces stress, increases flexibility and emotional boost. Meditation will improve more of a mental focus and provide and overall calming feeling. Simply shut your eyes and focus on the relaxation of your muscles. Try it – you’ll pretty much feel like you’re floating on a cloud.
As everyone knows, patience is a virtue. Don’t get frustrated if you can’t nail that difficult pose, or you can’t stay focused. As long as you are working at it and continue to try, you will get there. For example, it’s like riding a bike. I bet the first time you hopped on that seat, you fell a couple times – but once you get the hang of it, it will come. I’m guilty of being impatient – like I said, I did a few classes years ago and haven’t been back since, because it wasn’t pretty. But as I’ve grown up (a little) I’ve learned that it takes time, just like anything else. If you are patient, you will be rewarded.
The Lems-wearing yogi that you see in all of these pictures is Jordan, of jordannicoleyoga.com. She’s a yoga instructor out of Southern California that is an avid enthusiast of healing the body and mind through movement. Her tip is that “practice makes progress” –
“The more time you can put towards connecting with your body through your yoga practice, the more you’ll begin to see your practice unfold & evolve. Even if you commit to just 5 minutes per day of practicing your downward dog or warrior 2, you’ll see improvement if you’re consistent. After all, what we focus our attention on grows :)”.
With that being said, Happy National Day of Yoga.
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