LIVING YOGA by Zoey Lapinsky

It's easy to practice yoga when you love doing it. Bring commitment, dedication, passion and strength to your practice with some guiding principles.

It's easy to practice yoga when you love doing it. Bring commitment, dedication, passion and strength to your practice with some guiding principles.

DID YOU KNOW? Namaste is pronounced nah-mas-stay and means: My soul honours your soul. I honour the place in you where the entire universe resides. I honour the light, love, truth beauty and peace within you, because it is also within me. In sharing these things we are united, we are the same, we are one. 

Yoga can be the most glorious way to move your body. The combination of breath and movement calms the mind and facilitates a creak-free body and clear disposition that will banish any winter blues. For those of you already familiar with it, you know what I'm talking about. For the uninitiated, here are some tips: 

PRACTICE NOT PERFECT

Yoga is an exploration, a journey and a way of life. It's an on-going practice and although it might look like you have to have an amazing, strong and flexible body to do yoga, anyone can start, it's not about making pretty shapes, it's about moving your body. There'll always be someone stronger, thinner, or more flexible than you. If you compare yourself to the person next to you, or the picture in the magazine, you're robbing yourself of your yoga experience. Start with your body, with your level of experience, and move intelligently from there. As Mr Iyengar says, 'Yoga is a mirror to look at our bodies from within.' 

HONOUR YOUR BODY

Honour today's body: wishing you had a different body is harmful to your body, your mind and your practice. Today's body is different to the one you had 20, 10 or even 5 years ago. Just because you could throw yourself around as a child, doesn't mean it's appropriate for you now. With practice and patience your body will open. 

BREATH IS LIFE 

As Tich Nhat Hanh says, 'Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts.' Breathing properly has so many benefits, it can make your practice so much easier and give you the strength and impetus to master your poses. Deep purposeful breathing releases toxins, releases tension and anxiety, relieves emotional distress, eases pain, improves blood quality, elevates your mood and releases pleasure inducing chemicals in your body. A great way to start a yoga session is to take time out to breathe. Sit or lie in a comfortable position, close your eyes and just notice your breath. Let your belly relax so that you can feel it moving in and out as you breathe. 

FIND YOUR PACE & STYLE

Go slow - find a pace that works for you. Many of the people you see in yoga pictures are ex-ballerina's and gymnasts. Don't compare yourself to them. Find a way of moving that feels good to you.  There are many different kinds of yoga, from more meditative to more physically active. Though many people think of yoga only as a physical exercise it has many branches that encompass the science of unfolding the infinite potentials of the human mind and soul. Gyan Yoga is yoga philosophy, Bhakti Yoga is a path of devotional bliss, Karma Yoga embodies a path of blissful action, and Raja Yoga is about controlling the mind. 

BE GROUNDED

Be solid: pause and feel grounded at the place you start your pose. This will be the part of your body that's touching the floor - your feet, your buttocks, your back, your hands, depending on the pose. You can extend this idea to your mind and feel grounded in your headspace. When you move in or out of a pose: find yourself at your base, then work out what your spine must do to get into the pose, then move your legs, your arms and lastly your head. This ensures your back and belly are engaged and muscles are activated and strong. To come out, move in the reverse order to how you came in. Yoga's about connecting your mind and your body. Get out of your thinking space and notice what it feels like to move. Most yoga injuries happen on the way out of a pose, because we're already focusing on the next thing that we forget about what're we're doing in this moment. Stay present. 

3 yoga tips  

Do: Make it something you do daily. Don't have an hour or more. No problem. Find how much time you can give yourself. Maybe it's just a few minutes sitting in the car breathing calmly before a meeting, maybe its 5, 10, or 20 minutes of breathing, mudras or sun salutations. Shift your concept of what a good yoga practice is and surprise yourself by finding today's win, did you manage to take a deep breath ' great!

Do: Pay attention to how you move into and out of postures. We get so caught up in trying the right pose that we forget to try the right way. Get the form right and the depth, flexibility and strength will come.  

Do: Check your competitive edge at the door. Yes, we all want to be the best, but this is not a race to perfection, it's a gift to yourself. If you can't touch the floor today ' great, try again tomorrow!

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