Yoga 101 – What Every Practitioner Needs to Know

Yoga practice…how many times have I said in my classes “it’s not called a practice for nothin’!”. Cliche, yes, but still so true. Yoga is a journey, a practice, and it is endless. The asanas in themselves constantly add new challenges, and just when you think you have that Bakasana (Crow), Urdhva Danurasana (Wheel), or even Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand) down, you learn that there are more variations and transitions to work toward. But then there’s the other limbs of yoga…the endless journey to quiet the ego, to calm the mind, to reach samadhi (enlightenment). We use the asanas and pranayama to help get us there, but this is what yoga truly is. And this is why yogis and yogis will tell you, yoga really is for everyone. Yes, even you who can’t touch your toes. Yes, even you who cannot sit still for more than two minutes. Yes, even you who wants none of this “mindstuff”. Yoga is for everyone, and frankly is we all spent more time accepting this and practicing rather than making excuses why we can’t, the world would be a better and more peaceful place.  So now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the basics of what everyone should know about yoga.

Yoga 101 – What Every Yoga Practitioner Needs to Know

Whether you’re a beginner or a novice, a man or a woman, an athlete or not, these apply to you. And yes, maybe some of you already know these things…but are you practicing them? I can honestly say that even as an instructor, I sometimes lose sight of some of these, and have to take a moment to revisit them periodically to keep my practice on track. It’s easy for that ego to sneak up on you, or for the mind to judge, or to forget that yoga is a lifestyle, not just an hour a week on the mat. Here are some basic reminders, what would you add?

  1. It’s ok if you can’t touch your toes. It’s also ok if you can.
  2. Even if you can touch your toes, bind in Marichyasana 2, or do full Lotus, that doesn’t make you “better at yoga” than the ones who can’t.
  3. If you care about being “better at yoga” then you need to practice more.
  4. If you don’t have time to meditate each day, then meditate twice each day.
  5. There is nothing easy about yoga. If you think it’ easy, you’re doing it wrong.
  6. If you think you can’t do yoga, seek medical attention immediately. Everyone should be able to breathe.
  7. If you’re sick or injured and think you can’t do yoga, seek medical attention immediately. Everyone should be able to breathe.
  8. If you think yoga is boring or for lazy people, find a style that works for you because everyone is different, and you need to practice better.
  9. If you’re more concerned with your Lululemon gear than the yamas and niyamas you need to re-evaluate your practice.
  10. If you’ve been practicing yoga and you don’t know what the yamas and niyamas are then you need to re-evaluate your practice.
  11. It’s ok to smile. Or even laugh. It’s ok – even encouraged – to enjoy your practice, smile while meditating, laugh at yourself, and not take yourself too seriously.
  12. It’s ok to fall. Whether doing tree pose for the millionth time or trying your first headstand, sometimes you’re bound to fall. No matter how focused you are. And that’s actually ok. Let go of judgment toward yourself, breathe through the frustration, and start again when your mind is more calm.
  13. Yoga is mostly about what happens off the mat, and only a little about what happens on the mat.
  14. Yoga isn’t just done on a yoga mat. Your yoga can be anything, anywhere. Maybe it’s golfing, hiking, cooking or drawing. Finding that mind-body-spirit connection, that calm mind, relaxed body…that what your yoga is. Go find it…and keep practicing!
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