Yoga is one of the most beneficial exercises you can practice for mind and body wellness. The main principle behind yoga is that the breath powers the body, and it centers the body at the same time. In the process, a person who has a yoga practice experiences inner and outer strength, mental relaxation, and a more centered and focused state of mind no matter what type of yoga they choose to practice. Read on to learn tips for a better yoga workout.
However, since yoga is different than HIIT cardio, Crossfit, or from a typical gym workout, some people can have a hard time adapting to yoga’s different style of movements. But the great thing is, no matter which type of yoga practice you choose to try and practice for longer periods of time, things are always changing. This allows for not just variety, but also continual improvement, strength and overall health benefits.
To help you obtain the most benefits from your practice whether it’s your first or 100th session, there are a few things you can do to have a better yoga workout.
Three tips that will help you perform better every single time:
1. Come to Your Yoga Practice Without Expectations
If you come into a practice with the mindset of performing the same workout as you did the last time, or just with the idea that you’re there to burn calories and that’s it, try to open your mind to more. Don’t expect anything, but be ready for everything. Yoga is about letting your body try new things and part of the reason it is effective is because it works different parts of the body with each new session. And, if you do a workout at home, say on YouTube, be sure that you try new videos from time to time. If you take a class, try swapping things up every now and again. Let go of a set expectation and embrace the mat openly!
2. Be Sure You’re Dressed for the Type of Yoga You’re Performing
If you’re doing hot yoga, you had best be dressing different than a relaxing session of hatha yoga. So find out what you’ll need to dress like before you start your practice. This helps with two things: it keeps you comfortable and it helps your body move easier. No one wants to be dressed head to toe in a room that feels like a sauna, nor do they want to be dressed in too little if the room they’re practicing in is cold. The muscles need to be warm during movement, but you shouldn’t be sweating before you start! Perhaps ask someone in the class what the temperature is like, or find out online. If you’re doing it at home, start with some simple leggings and a tank, and if you get too hot, turn on a fan or change to shorts.
3. Be Sure You’re Fueling Smart Before and After Your Workouts
Speaking of how you rehydrate, you should also be smart about how you refuel after your workout. Don’t just grab an energy bar and be on your way. Choose something with some lean protein that isn’t animal-sourced. Animal-based options are especially acidic to the body, and they can also cause inflammation in the muscles. This makes eating an overall alkaline diet extremely important, which is primarily a plant-based diet.
It’s also smart to take in something that your muscles quickly absorb, like a protein shake with some greens, berries, and perhaps some chia seeds for healthy omega-3 fats. Consider choosing Clean Lean Protein by Nuzest (the flavors are amazing!), which is made completely out of pea protein. Unlike whey, it leaves an alkaline ash in the body, is 90 percent protein (more than meat!) and is great for fighting inflammation. You can also have a shake before your workout, but may want to consider having it an hour or so before so you have time to digest it. Or, choose something light yet filling, such as banana with a tablespoon of almond butter.
It’s also smart to be sure you get enough rest, at least 7-8 hours most nights. Your yoga practice is just as much about you do when you’re not on the mat as when you are. You’ll be shocked at how a healthy lifestyle, wearing the right attire, and coming to a class open-minded can really take your yoga workouts to the next level. And, it means there are endless possibilities for how your health, body and mind can improve.
This is a guest post from Heather McClees, a Plant-Based Nutritionist and professional health journalist from South Carolina. She authors the health and wellness blog, A Spoonful of Health which shares the joys of plant-based nutrition, wellness and delicious cruelty-free recipes without a drop of sugar or gluten. Heather received her B.S. Degree in Nutrition Science and Dietetics, has written for One Green Planet, All Women Stalk, The Raw Food World, and The Herald Journal Newspaper, a New York Times owned company. She is most passionate about helping others discover the gift of of holistic health, showing others how to create healthy recipes based on their favorite foods, physical fitness and yoga, and creative writing. You can find her anytime at her blog, A Spoonful of Health, or on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest!