If you want to really enjoy and advance in your asana practice, it’s important to feel what you’re doing, not just on the level of what muscles are stretching or strengthening, but on a deeper level. You’ll want to experience your fullest expression of each pose. This doesn’t mean pushing as hard as you can to move further into a pose so that it looks a particular way—that can actually get in the way. Like expressing an idea or an artistic concept, this comes from the inside.
At the beginning of an asana practice, it’s nice to draw your awareness inward, focusing on the body and the breath for a few moments. This calm focus is an essential part of yoga. Once we’re practicing the asanas, however, it’s common for the mind to wander. It’s not that we necessarily start thinking about other things on purpose, but the mind wanders nonetheless.
No one likes to get injured. Injuries not only hurt, but they can also prevent you from doing what you love to do for days, weeks, or even months. If practicing yoga asanas is one of those things, having to give up some of your favorite poses can be a real challenge. Don’t despair! Yoga is so versatile that there are still several poses and techniques you may be able to do while injured.
Advanced inversions such as Headstand, Shoulderstand, and Plough have widely touted benefits, yet they’re not for everyone. Because they can place a lot of pressure on your neck, the risk of injury often outweighs the benefits they can bring. Doing them properly requires significant flexibility and strength. So please be cautious and don’t feel that you have to add them to your asana repertoire. In fact, there are several other safe and simple inversions that bring similar benefits without the risks.
One of the main things I hear when people talk about cutting meat out of their diets is that they’re afraid they won’t get enough protein. But so many foods in a vegetarian yoga diet pack a protein punch—beans, nuts, whole grains, tofu, in addition to a variety of plant-based “chicken” strips, tofurky, veggie burgers, and other mock meats that are now widely available.
I find balancing poses fun. It’s always a challenge to see how well I can balance on a particular day because not all days are the same. Some days it comes easy, other days, it can seem almost impossible to balance for more than a few seconds.
If you’re like many people who are interested in improving their health, you may already be moving towards a plant-based diet and reducing the amount of meat you eat. A wholesome vegetarian diet can help maintain a healthy body weight, boosts immunity, and may even slow the aging process.
We don’t often think a lot about our joints—that is, until they start aching or hurting. If you want to delay or prevent such pain, give them a little TLC before they get sore.
Diet and digestion are two essential elements in maintaining good health. Exercise is also really important. Practicing asanas regularly is not only a great way to get exercise but can also improve our digestion over the long term.
According to yoga scriptures, we are all eternally youthful: “For the soul there is neither birth nor death, nor having once been, does he ever cease to be.” This explains why we feel young inside, even as the image in the mirror slowly ages. The challenge is to keep our bodies in good shape so that we retain our vitality. Yoga offers us a way to do this. Just consider two of the many things yoga has to offer, diet and exercise.