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May 25, 2014

5 Tips to Turn Your Yoga Practice from Good to Golden. ~ Nikki Zajac

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Here is a known fact:  we choose how much effort we put into life. We choose how fully we live each day.

We decide if we want to be present or not. We choose how much we want to give and love. We can move though life like The Walking Dead, zombie-like—without thought.

Or, we can be like the greats that came before us—those people who turned something that was average into something that truly meant something.

Like jobs or relationships, our yoga practice can go through a natural cycle. We can get into a routine and discontinue doing those things that we did when we first began. This is our yoga comfort zone.

Let’s bring it back to that zesty, exhilarating, life-changing feeling that we felt in the very beginning. I like to call it the honeymoon phase. In this phase you try your best. You show up fully. You pay attention. You do it because you truly want to, not because you have to. You receive joy, pleasure and love from it. You talk about it with others. You are in yoga love! Being in yoga love is a magical feeling and this phase does not need to end.

Here are five tips that will shift your yoga practice from good to golden:

Show up early.

You’re in traffic, heart-rate increasing as you race to the studio to make that 6 p.m. class. You drop your mat as you gather your things from your car. You race inside, sign-in, lay out your mat and exhale a sigh of relief that you made it there in time for class to start. The anxiety that you generated before class can literally make or break your experience.

It’s much more difficult to come down from that speed.

Instead, only go to classes that make sense for you. Plan to get there 20 minutes early. This leaves you time to sign-in, roll your mat out and breathe deeply before class starts. You can meditate and center yourself before you begin. This small change allows you to get even more out of your yoga practice. You aren’t just going to yoga to get back to a “normal” state, but to get into a deeply, relaxed peaceful state where the real change begins.

Set an intention.

The physical asanas in yoga have a lasting impact on our bodies and our health. However, practicing yoga is also a spiritual journey allowing us to process our lives in a healthy way.

Given your current circumstances, set an intention that supports you in the moment. Maybe it’s a lesson you learned that week or something you struggle with. By doing this, you are creating a positive affirmation that transforms you on a deeper level.

Repeat the mantra or affirmation every time your hands meet at heart center. It can be something simple, like “be love,” or “trust the journey.” Try it out!  You will most definitely deepen your practice and awaken your spiritual self.

Create goals for yourself.

It’s easy to get into a routine. Going to the same classes, being taught by the same teachers, or practicing the same poses. No one can create goals for you. Decide what it is that you would like to learn or improve upon. Creating a goal helps you continue to better your practice, thus yourself.

Getting into the habit of creating goals for your yoga practice will also help motivate you to create goals in your life. Remember: everything is connected.

Join a yoga community.

Extend your yoga circle. Go to yoga classes with friends, introduce yourself at the studio and attend local yoga events. As humans, we thrive when we feel part of a community. Not only will this make your yoga experience so much more fulfilling, but it will add joy, connection and love into your life.

Practice often.

‘Nuff said! Yoga makes a difference each time we practice. To receive lasting results—keep it up! Consistency, commitment, and discipline will take your yoga practice to a whole new level. First of all, your body will thank you. You will feel light, loose and limber. Your mind will also thank-you. You’ll spend less time paying attention to pesky, negative thoughts and more time in the present moment.

And that’s not all!  Your inner guide will also thank-you. The knowing intuition that is always guiding you will be easier to hear.

So what are you waiting for? Get down with your dog and experience all that yoga has to offer.

May these tips add subtle, yet impactful changes to your practice and life. To showing up fully and allowing the juicy honeymoon phase to live on!

Namaste.

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Apprentice Editor: Sue Adair / Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: Courtesy of the Author

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