If you've ever gone to a yoga class reeling from a busy day or stressful situation, then you've probably noticed it can take some time to ease into a peaceful, relaxing yoga practice.
Well, for all you yogis out there who have a full life and want to relax, this one is for you: My top five tips for relaxing in any yoga class:
When you're trying to coax your muscles and your thoughts into relaxation, you must continue to send them oxygen! Perhaps it seems silly, but many people naturally respond to new poses by holding their breath. Try relaxing into the pose and notice how it changes from inhale to exhale. Your muscles will thank you.
Take a moment to scan your body in each pose. Notice where there is tension or stiffness, and notice if one side of your body feels different than the other. Sometimes simply noticing and acknowledging stiffness is the thing that allows it to release.
Once you've noticed what seems stiff, the tension may release on its own, or it may need some help. One useful trick is to visualize oxygen moving toward the stiff area as you inhale, and visualize the muscles releasing as you exhale. This simple visualization has helped me release a lot of tension on and off the mat!
Mental chatter, your to-do list, relationship analysis, and scheduling are all a natural part of life, but they don't have to be a part of your yoga practice. Try to focus your thoughts on your body, the sensations you feel and see in the moment. If you notice your attention wandering (as every yogi inevitably will from time to time) simply direct your mind toward something in your practice, like your breath.
5. Just show up
You'll only get the benefits of a yoga practice if you show up to your mat! Even if the first four items on this list aren't happening on any particular day, experience some benefits simply by arriving and trying. You'll be happy you did.
And, if you're local to Eugene and want more relaxation tips, this Wednesday, April 5 at 7p, I am beginning a new Relax and Restore yoga class at Mudra Yoga.
All are welcome. This is a great class to take whether you're new to yoga or a seasoned pro.