by Kedar Nath: Yoga has become widely popular all over the world…
There are many different schools and paths to choose from. The different paths of yoga were created to appeal to different temperaments. Though the practices of each system may differ somewhat, there is a great common ground between all of them. Here are five tips which are indispensable for yogis of all levels, regardless of the path or school of yoga chosen.
1. START AND FINISH YOUR SESSIONS LIKE A YOGI
“OM is the sound when everything else disappears from your being – no thought, no dream, no projections, no expectations, not even a single ripple – your whole lake of consciousness is simply silent; it has become just a mirror. In those rare moments you hear the sound of silence. It is the most valuable experience because it not only shows a quality of the inner music – it also shows that the inner is full of harmony, joy, blissfulness. All that is implied in the music of OM.” – Osho
Before you commence your practice, sit down in any meditative posture, keeping your spine straight. Close your eyes and focus on your breath for a few minutes. Breathe in deeply and chant the mantra OM three times. Chant in a long continuous way, synchronising the chant to the exhalation.
At the end of your practice, lie in Shavasana – corpse pose. Bring your awareness to the breath, breathing deeply from the navel. Relax your body, let your heart rate and breathing drop to normal levels. When you’re ready, roll to the side and gently get up. Sit down in any meditative posture and chant OM three times once more, before you leave.
2. KNOW YOUR CURRENT PROFICIENCY LEVEL
“The greatest progress in life is when you know your limitations, and then you have the courage to drop them.” – Yogi Bhajan
“Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.” – Brendan Francis Behan
Understand your current limitations, the physical and mental. How is your flexibility? Do you have frequent back pains? Do you get very anxious when you meditate? Is it difficult to meditate because you have a restless mind? Whatever your current position is, accept it with complete honesty. You can only accurately measure your progress if you know your starting point. Journal your current state with great detail, numbering each of your limitations. Never be in a rush, make slow but steady progress; going too fast will greatly increase the risk of injury. Journal your state each week, and watch those limitations slowly disappear.
3. MOVE SLOWLY
“It is better to travel well than to arrive.” – Gautama Buddha
“The progress of rivers to the ocean is not so rapid as that of man to error” – Voltaire.
Dynamic and fast paced yoga may be great for fitness, but it won’t be too beneficial unless you’re a proficient yogi. Remember the first aim of yoga is to expand consciousness, even when we practice asanas – postures – the aim is to increase our bodily awareness. This is best achieved by being aware of your breath and slowly – but deeply – moving in to your asanas. Dynamic yoga should only be practiced once the body has achieved high levels of flexibility, when there are no physical ailments and when one is perfectly capable of maintaining full awareness of both body and breath during each asana. Additionally, asanas will help your body eliminate toxins, which should be done gradually and cautiously. When toxins are eliminated too quickly, it can create grave imbalances in the body which will hinder your progress.
4. BREATHE LIKE A YOGI
“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Before you commence your practice, when you start OM chanting ensure you’re practicing full yogic breathing. This way we ensure maximum oxygen intake before our practice. However yogic breathing does not need to be maintained during the practice, breathing must be steady, comfortable and deep.
Breathing guidelines should be followed for each asana. Asanas must incorporate consciousness of breath and movement simultaneously. If these are not aligned, then the practice cannot be considered yoga.
Additionally, the mind and the breath are connected. Shallow and quick breathing will make your mind restless, whereas as deep breathing will calm your mind. A calm mind will reap greater results in all endeavours.
5. STAY IN THE MOMENT, DON’T WORRY ABOUT RESULTS
“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” – Gautama Buddha
Don’t think about the results of your practice, think only of the present moment. When you concentrate on results, you maintain expectations which automatically create fear of failure and a desire to progress quickly, which often are the cause of all and failure. Stay in the moment, give it your best shot and remain fearless.