The Essence Of A Yoga Practice

by Megan K on January 5, 2011

What makes Yoga different from Pilates, stretching or some other kinds of mind-body exercise?

Is it the poses? Yes, partly but yoga, pilates and stretching share similar movements.

Is it the breath work?  Yes, partly.  The most common way to breathe in a yoga class is simply in and out through the nose.

Is it the equipment used? Yes, in some cases.

The major difference between Yoga and other types of mind-body exercise is that Yoga is much more than just physical poses or asanas.  The 8 limbs of Ashtanga Yoga are for many people a way of life.  They include physical practice, breath work, guidelines for behavior, meditation and more.

I like to think of a Yoga practice as a smorgasbord: take what you need or like and leave the rest behind.  You may not be interested in all eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga.  But even if  you are only interested in the physical aspects of a Yoga practice, it is still important to consider the essence of the physical practice.

Keep the following things in mind when you come to your mat:

  • When you come to the mat it is important to listen to your body.  If something hurts, don’t do it or modify the pose so that it feels good.
  • Your breathe is your link between your body and your mind. Stay focused on what you are doing.
  • Remember that every time you come to the mat it will be different.   Just because a pose felt comfortable last time does not mean that it will this time or even next time, so let go of your expectations of what will happen.
  • Let go of competition.  There are no points in Yoga.  You have already done something nice for yourself just by making the decision to move, beyond that let go of the end “goal”, whether it be to get up into a head stand or to touch your toes.  Let go of the outcome and just move.
  • Let go of  judgements.  There is no wrong or right in Yoga.  Listen to your body, keep yourself safe and do what feels good for you on that day.

There are many types of Yoga and many ways in which you can practice, but the most important practice is the one that you do alone, with yourself as your guide: your home practice.

For more tips about yoga and fitness be sure to sign up for Fitness Fridays, my news letter.

Megan K

One comment on “The Essence Of A Yoga Practice

  1. Respiratory Therapist on said:

    Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

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