Five Ways to Improve Your Yoga Practice

Painting by Sara Jones
Painting by Sara Jones

1) Apply root lock

This is like a kegal.  Once you have inhaled and exhaled completely hold your breath out and pull in your sexual organs. Release the lock and inhale when necessary. Repeat three times for maximum benefit.

2) Relax

Once you have done several exercises, apply mula bandha (root lock) and rest for about a minute. This can be in child’s pose, corpse or ragdoll. This gives the body a chance to process the energy that was stimulated. Doing long deep breathing while resting further adds to fully relaxing the body.

3) Look Up

When resting, practice Shambhavi Mudra by closing your eyes and turning them upward towards your third eye or the centre of your forehead. If you feel a strain you are straining too much or need to release. This can be done when holding yoga poses as well. It is a great exercise to strengthen the eyes.

4) Anchor with a Mantra

To further enhance the resting periods while you are doing Shambhavi Mudra (looking towards the centre of your forehead), mentally chant a mantra such as SO on the inhalation and HUM on the exhalation. SAT on the inhalations and NAM on the exhalations is the one that is traditionally used in Kundalini yoga. You can, however chant any phrase or words that will help to anchor your mind just as you do in meditation practice. Again you can do this during actual poses or sets as well.

5) Develop Your Mind

This sounds complicated but is really very simple. This involves being in the present moment—the NOW. Throughout your practice become aware of your body, mind, feelings and breath. This slows down the brain and involves stopping the incessant thoughts that race through the mind like “What am I doing tomorrow?” and “I can’t believe she said that yesterday!” Strive to stay in the present moment even when your yoga practice is finished.

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