There are a lot of little improvements you can make when you are a beginner yogi. Choose one or two of the tips below to start working on now. Then move onto some of the others.
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Choose proper alignment
I see people in yoga classes all the time that push way past their ability. While I admire them for pushing themselves, I think that proper alignment is more important. Only push yourself to the point where you still have proper alignment. When a teacher gives an option to go deeper into a pose, don’t do it unless you have proper alignment! Otherwise, you risk injury and you are creating bad habits.
Focus on your breath
Your instructor most likely is giving you cues on when to breath in and out. Listen to them and try your best to follow along. This will help you physically and mentally in your practice. Typically, you breathe in when you come up, lift your chest or expand your body and vice versa.
Improve your chaturanga
If you are taking Vinyasa or Ashtanga classes, this is something you will be doing multiple times per class. Which makes it a great thing to improve on. A year ago I could not do one chaturanga without bringing my knees to the ground. I set it as a priority and worked on it at every class. I gave myself goals like; do one chaturanga without knees in a class, then two without knees, etc. Eventually, I got to the point where I don’t use my knees at all (and in Ashtanga that means 80+ times in one class). Here is a great tutorial on how to do chaturanga.
Drink enough water before yoga
My legs and feet cramp up in yoga if I don’t stay hydrated throughout the day. Make it a point to drink water throughout the day though and not right before yoga. I made this mistake once and let me tell you, it’s not an enjoyable yoga class when you have a full bladder. Looking for a great water bottle? Check out this one from Swell, it’s my favorite and I constantly get compliments on it.
Choose proper clothing
In my closet, I keep my yoga clothes in a separate pile from what I wear during other types of exercising. I do this because it drives me nuts when I get into my first downward dog and realize that my shirt falls exposing my stomach or into my first upward dog and realize that my shirt is way too low in the chest area. The last thing you want while doing yoga is to be fidgeting and adjusting your clothing, so make sure that you know ahead of time that it will work for you. I always look for the following things in yoga clothes; pants that are a little higher waisted, a shirt that has a high neckline and is longer and fitted in the torso, and obviously very stretchy and flexible, like this one here. Shirts that meet all these criteria are surprisingly really hard to find.
Fuel your body
I like to have a snack before yoga so that I have energy during the class. Normally I have a handful of nuts and a piece of fruit. After my yoga class, I usually have a protein shake, but only if it is a power class or Ashtanga.
Remember, start slowly. Only choose one or two at a time to work on. Otherwise, you are likely to get overwhelmed and not follow through.
If you are really enjoying yoga, I would recommend checking out Increasing Your Yoga Practice. This is where I share how I increased my practice to a daily practice without getting injured.