It’s not all about Asanas!

Yoga isn’t just about the physical movement through poses and sequences. They are just 1/8 of Patanjali’s Eightfold Path (Eight Limbs of Yoga). Depending on the type of yoga you try, you may incorporate a lot of the eight limbs in your practice OR you may need to master one, such as Asana, before moving onto Pranayama.

You might get emotional…

...which is totally normal! Sometimes when we hold in our emotions they can cause blockages to our energy flow such as tension in our muscles. When those blockages are released through yoga practice we may feel all sorts of emotions arise such as sadness, happiness and even agitation, and that’s okay! Usually, there is always a counter posture to follow that will ease these emotions and help you let go completely. If you don’t want to express those emotions in class, then you can always take yourself out of the asana and back into child or mountain pose and focus on your breath. Your teacher will understand so there is no need to feel embarrassed, it isn’t a negative, it shows that you will be able to let go and move forward.

You won’t always leave the class feeling fantastic

As with the above, trapped emotions can play havoc with your yoga practice. One of the many benefits of regular yoga practice is the increase in self-awareness. When you feel a certain way, you are able to look at what may have caused the feeling, work through it, accept it and then let it go (taking yoga into your everyday life, without realising it). For example, sometimes if I practice too many Sun Salutations I feel agitated because it has created too much fire in my Manipura chakra. So to balance myself, I finish with a cooling breath or the moon sequence. Analyse how you’re feeling, and think about something that may help to balance that out. Ask yourself, do I need to do more of the counter posture? or will some mindful meditation or positive mantras help? You may even just need a good meal and some rest.

80% is good enough!

We all want to get the most out of our practice both physically and mentally, but it is important not to push yourself over your limit. Working at 100% all the time will put you under a lot of physical, emotional and mental pressure. It’s important to enjoy your practice and do what is good for you on that day. Even if it is Savasana for 45 mins!

It can take weeks, if not months (or years) to master an asana, AND you still might not be able to do it!

One of the most important elements of yoga to remember is that everyone is built differently. There will be some asanas that you can do and some, with every will in the world, that you can’t. And that’s OKAY! It all comes down to how your body is structured i.e. how muscles, tendons, and joints sit together and also their strength. This can be your born make-up or a change caused by injury or disease.

Meditation: It's not about clearing the mind of all thoughts

I don't know if it is even possible to stop thinking completely. The mind has its processes and one of those is thoughts. Meditation is more about slowing those thoughts down. Rather than you darting from one thought to the next, if helps you to sit with those thoughts. Bringing forward what it is you really need to be aware of. By slowing down your thoughts, you can process them better and often find solutions to problems. Once, during a meditation, it popped into my mind that to solve the website issue I had, I just needed to contact the server provider. i was so wrapped up in trying to solve the issue myself and getting stressed about it, that I hadn't even thought about asking for help. Doesn't sound like the most exciting bit of 'enlightenment' but taking that time to slow my thoughts down, stopped me from stressing about it.

Meditation: Daily practice over length of time

I always thought I had to do at least 22 minutes of meditation per day. But I had no time for that! And the thought of sitting for 22 minutes would stress me. This is when I discovered that the length of the meditation could range from 3 minutes per day to 2.5 hours. And that a daily, and consistent practice of 3 minutes is more beneficial than 62 minutes once per week.

So now, I meditate for 11 minutes per day. Doing this length of time begins to change the nerves and the glandular system. Like any muscle in your body, or any physical exercise, doing a little bit daily benefits and strengthens your body. It's the same with meditation, it strengthens your connection with your mind. 3 minutes per day will affect the circulation and stability of your blood. It also gives you an opportunity to slow down the mind for a short time each day.

The important thing to remember is that yoga is YOUR practice. So find something that works for you, there are loads of options out there.