Participation in mind-body fitness programs continue to rise in the United States. One of these programs includes the practice of yoga. The 3,000 year old tradition, yoga, is a holistic approach to health and is classified by the National Institutes of Health as a form of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The practice of yoga has the potential to promote strength, endurance, flexibility, positive effects on respiratory and cardiovascular function, as well as reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. It also may improve sleep patterns and enhance overall well-being and quality of life. Due to the variety of health benefits that yoga has to offer, many people are introducing themselves to the practice. What most people don’t know before practicing yoga is that it can be quite difficult. Many beginners have a tough time with yoga because it takes an abundance of flexibility and strength in parts of the body that are not normally utilized. This can cause participants to give up on yoga too quickly and before any health benefits are reached. So how can an individual naturally improve their yoga practice? In this article, natural ways to help improve one’s performance in yoga will be discussed.
Yoga requires a full range of motion in many joints and muscle areas of the body. The best way to help loosen the body before engaging in yoga is to stretch the specific parts of the body that will be utilized. This may require stretching the regions around the hamstrings, shoulders, groin, and quadriceps. A proper warm up is extremely vital if an individual is sore. Yoga can often times result in soreness of joints and muscles, especially in beginners. This soreness may alter performance in a person’s next yoga session due to making the body more stiff. Warming up those specific joints and muscles and properly preparing them by stretching will help reduce soreness and allow individuals to have a full range of motion during their session in order to continue their progression.
Strengthen Your Wrists
The wrists are essential in the performance of yoga. Many positions in yoga often times are weight bearing on the wrists and rely on them for balance. Through continuous sessions of yoga, it improves joint strength especially in the wrists. However, for beginners, their wrists may not be as strong, and this has the potential to limit yoga performance. One way to obtain quicker progress in yoga is to strengthen certain parts of the body that are often utilized in the practice even when an individual is not actually doing yoga, specifically the wrists. Having appropriate wrist strength will allow yoga participants to further push themselves and reach certain goals of yoga progression. It may also help prevent injury which would significantly slow the time of goal attainment. Some examples of exercises that aid in the strengthening of the wrists include wrist rolls and practicing key yoga moves, such as planks and down dog poses, between classes.
Committing to a regular practice of yoga is absolutely crucial if one wants to see improvement in performance. This is because it takes time for the body to adjust and requires continuous practice in order to see progression. If an individual’s yoga schedule is not consistent, they have the potential to lose the progress they have made in past sessions. It is suggested that yoga participants should practice at least three times a week in order to start seeing progress in flexibility, strength, and focus. It is also important to stay consistent in the quality of yoga practice. If one approaches practice carelessly and with distraction, it will not be effective. It is important to take every session seriously and with the correct intention, which is to get better.
Use the Appropriate Equipment
The equipment of the yoga participant is one of the most important things in the practice. The use of yoga straps, blocks, blankets, and bolsters allow individuals to achieve a broader and more diverse experience of the various yoga poses. These yoga props can help target specific muscle groups to release deep tensions and relieve chronic stress within the body. A great yoga mat is also necessary for great yoga performance. A mat that crumples up and slips all the time will distract the participant and hamper the quality of the yoga session. Obtaining a high quality mat will offer solid foundation on which to make great strides in yoga performance goals.
Eat Light Before Class
A belly full of food can significantly diminish the performance and ability of individuals participating in yoga. It can make an individual extremely uncomfortable during various posture twists involved in the various poses in yoga. An important recommendation would be to allow an hour to two hours before going to class after eating a meal or large snack. It is also important to be conservative on foods being eaten, as foods high in saturated fat and carbohydrates may lead to stomach discomfort and added stress on the body.
Yoga has the potential to offer a variety of health benefits. Although it can be extremely beneficial, yoga tends to be an exceptionally challenging practice especially for beginners. Through the recommendations made in this article, yoga participants have the ability to improve their performance to achieve certain goals and obtain the full benefits from the holistic practice of yoga.
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- Hannam L. Boost Your Yoga Practice: Yogis Share Their Best Tips. Best Health Magazine Canada. https://www.besthealthmag.ca/best-you/yoga/boost-your-yoga-practice-yogis-share-their-best-tips/. Published July 16, 2019. Accessed July 12, 2020.
- Burgin T. 11 Ways to Improve Your Yoga Practice. Yoga Basics. https://www.yogabasics.com/connect/yoga-blog/11-ways-improve-your-yoga-practice/. Published June 18, 2020. Accessed July 12, 2020.