How to Practice Yoga
Knowing how to practice yoga involves more than knowing how to do the postures. You won’t be able to relax very easily in scratchy, stiff clothing that doesn’t allow you to move freely. Likewise, the attitude you “wear” can hinder your practice. Learning to suspend your doubts, worries, and fears during your yoga practice is important for progress in your yoga journey. So is understanding when you are pushing yourself too hard, listening to your body to determine what it needs and what it doesn’t need, and being prepared for deep breathing by knowing a few basic principles.
Loose Clothing and an Open Mind
You can’t practice yoga well unless you’re comfortable. The right clothing is important, because if you can’t move easily, if your clothes are in the way, or if you are in any way unnecessarily distracted (say by a tight waist or stiff fabric), you won’t be able to concentrate fully on your yoga postures.
There isn’t any set yoga “uniform,” but consider these points when deciding what to wear for your workout:
➤ Your clothes should be loose and flexible but not baggy. Tight clothes are restricting, and baggy clothes can get in the way of your movements. T-shirts and shorts or leggings, tank tops and biking shorts, or a not-too-baggy sweatsuit are ideal.
➤ Dress for the temperature. If the weather is cold, choose long sleeves and comfortable pants that don’t restrict your movement (sweatpants or leggings are both good choices). Remember to keep a blanket nearby in case you get chilly.
➤ Your clothing shouldn’t bind anywhere. If the feel of your clothes is very noticeable around your waist or at your ankles or wrists, they are probably too tight. Also, binding clothes will restrict the flow of energy through your body.
➤ You should be able to distinguish the basic shape of your body. Your teacher will need to see how you are holding the postures to make sure you are doing them correctly. If you are doing yoga on your own, relatively form-fitting clothing will allow you to check your form and alignment in a mirror without trying to imagine your form in a pose under that oversized T-shirt and those baggy pants.
➤ Yoga is best performed in bare feet. The more you practice yoga, the more sensitive and in tune with your environment you’ll become, and that includes your feet!
➤ Don’t forget to remove all metal jewelry before you practice, especially necklaces and bracelets. Yoga is about freeing the flow of energy in your body, and that energy could be disrupted by metal.
➤ Avoid wearing perfume, strongly scented deodorant, or cologne during your yoga practice. It can be unpleasant to others in your yoga class, especially during pranayama (breathwork).
➤ And what’s the most important thing to wear? An open mind! The most perfect yoga outfit won’t do you any good if you aren’t mentally prepared. Before every yoga practice, take a few moments of quiet to prepare for your workout.
Think about what you are about to do and what you want to accomplish. If you’re just getting started, even if you aren’t completely convinced yoga can do everything people say it can, willingly suspend your disbelief, just for a little while. An open mind means a body open to new movements and achievements. You may surprise yourself at what you can accomplish when you aren’t wasting your energy doubting yourself and your workout.