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How to Practice Yoga Safely

With Justine Rowan, Visiting Yoga Instructor at Bodytree Studio

Remember: You can’t be bad at yoga! It is not about being flexible or super fit.  It is about exploring and working with your own body’s current needs, challenges and potential and developing mind-body awareness through the medium of movement and breath focus.

Whether you are new to yoga or an experienced student one thing to bear in mind is the importance of respecting your limits. Learn how to protect yourself in any class to help prevent injury and maximise the power of your practice.

Take your time

Give yourself plenty of time to master preparatory exercises and more basic postures. It takes time and regular practice to develop the necessary strength and flexibility to do more complex poses in a way which is healthy and beneficial to you. Enjoy the journey!

Check in

The first few minutes of every class, as you shift your focus to the breath, check in with how your body is feeling. Pay close attention to any niggles, like a sore shoulder or a tender lower back. Keep some awareness on this area throughout the class and back off if sensation becomes uncomfortable.

Keep exploring

If you have a niggling pain, don’t ignore it! Keep seeking advice from your teacher and professionals, do some research and explore yourself what makes it feel OK or better, and what seems to make it worse. Sometimes the problem is not clear cut and in the end you kind of have to work it out for yourself.

Steadiness

If you love your Vinyasa flow or Ashtanga class, that’s great! But it can helpful in the long term to bring an attitude of inner slowing down as you practice. You can keep up with the class but also have a steadiness and calm to your movement which I think makes it easier to really feel your body and avoid over pushing. It doesn’t matter if sometimes you’re a little slower if that feels right.

Remember why

You’re doing yoga to be fit, healthy and balanced, to find a regular calming rhythm in your life, right? So remind yourself of your personal motivations before you go into class. Watch out for self-judgment, comparing, competitiveness, and getting too focused on the end goal of ‘achieving’ a particular pose. No one is going to remember you for your great backbends. Really. So let your yoga be something that nurtures you and your life. Because you’re worth it.

Justine will be visiting Bodytree Studio from 20-22 October to teach a special yoga series “Progress in Your Practice”. Join her for one, or all three morning workshops. Please email info@bodytreestudio.com to book a spot and check out www.rowanyoga.com for further tips on getting the most out of your yoga practice.

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