“Where focus goes, energy flows.” Tony Robbins
Here are a couple of things you can focus on in your yoga sessions—maybe one at a time to start with—to get the most out of them.
In yoga, we primarily breathe in and out through the nose and try to synchronise our breath with movement—inhaling as we open (or expand) and exhaling as we close (or contract). Once you become more experienced, you should start to sense a wave of expansion and contraction throughout your session.
Try to slow down your breath in the gentler sequences, as this will help you to drop into the parasympathetic nervous system. When your body and mind are relaxed, you body is much more receptive to stretching. You don’t want to get into a fight against your body to recover faster. There are no winners in that situation.
You can also use the breath to notice if you are using too much force in a pose. It's an excellent barometer for monitoring the control you have over your body and environment.
If you find it hard to concentrate on your breath for more than a few minutes at a time, that's completely normal. With consistent practice, it will start to become more and more automatic.
As yoga is a relatively slow form of exercise, you have the benefit of putting awareness front and centre. Every movement should be careful and intentional. In this way, not only do you get the most out of the session but you also keep yourself safe from injury. You never just want to drop into a pose and hang out there.
Try to find a balance between engagement and relaxation. Notice when is it appropriate to breathe and release and when you need to engage your core, hips and shoulders in the more powerful postures and transitions.
"Yoga has remarkable brain-scrubbing attributes." Joe Rogan
Meditation is really really hard. Our minds are thinking machines and trying to sustain attention on a single object for more than a few breaths is practically impossible.
In yoga, however, we can experience flow, or being "in the zone"—a state in which the mind is empty of thoughts. We can be so absorbed in postures that are at the outer limits of our ability and that require our full focus and concentration, that thoughts fall away.
Try to bring this focussed attention to your yoga sessions. There is plenty to notice within yourself for those 15 minutes on the mat. Everything outside of that can wait.
I'd love to hear from you guys. What pro tips can you share that have helped you to level up your practice?