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4 Tips to Pimp Your Yoga

4 Tips to Pimp Your Yoga

posted Uncategorized and tagged savasana, asana, tips, yoga on September 15, 2015.

If you've got your downward dog down pat, but are struggling to get to the next level of your practice, or even if you're a seasoned yogi keen to evolve further, these tried-and-tested tips will help pimp your yoga and have you on your way to bliss on and off the mat.

Fuel & refuel 

With any form of exercise, it's important to fuel your body with the right nutrition to get the most out of the activity and ensure optimal recovery. Nutritionist and yoga instructor Raj Barker recommends eating something light about an hour before a yoga practice, such as a piece of fruit, handful of raw nuts, or small smoothie. And afterwards? 'Try to eat within 30-45 minutes of completion to replenish your glycogen stores,' recommends Raj, 'which is especially important if your class was a high-intensity form of yoga.' Good options for a post-yoga refuel are a boiled egg or vegan protein based smoothie.

Invest in a good mat

Your yoga mat is so much more than just a mat. It's your base, comfort and companion during your practice. If you practice yoga regularly, it's time to say good-bye to awkwardly sticking off the end of short gym mats, or flying two feet forward in the heat of your vinyasa because your mat doesn't have the proper grip. Ain't no time for that in your bubble of zen! Here's what to look for when choosing a mat:

  • Material - Steer clear of yoga mats that are made of toxic materials like PVC, plastic or latex. Look for eco-friendly mats made from natural rubber, jute and other organic or recycled material, which will not emit toxins.
  • Thickness - A decent amount of cushioning helps with balance and comfort during your practice. As a reference point, a standard mat is 3.2ml thick. If you do a lot of inversions or feel more comfortable with extra padding beneath you, then you may need to opt for a thicker variety.
  • Texture - For increased grip, choose a mat with a raised texture or bumpiness on the surface. This can really help you keep your ground during even the sweatiest of vinyasas.
  • Design - Go for colours or patterns that resonate with your personality. Having an individual mat that is visually pleasing to you will enhance your yoga practice and make it more fun!

Amazonia Loves: The Earth Fusion Yoga Mat by Stretch Now, which has exceptional grip and durability and is made from the union of two sustainable plant materials - natural rubber and jute.

Set an intention 

Setting an intention is consciously choosing what you need to place your awareness on throughout your yoga practice. It is a fantastic way to add a new dimension to your yoga class, which can have profound results that carry into your day-to-day mindset.  The advice that yoga instructor Raj Barker gives to her students is to let the intention come naturally, as intentions vary depending on a variety of factors, such as your energy levels, the day you have ahead or behind you, and your emotional state. If you don't know where to start, Raj suggests, 'it might serve you to work with one word like 'strong' or 'present', or perhaps base your intention around a mantra like 'I am grounded' or if you're in a bad mood, 'I'm using this time to refocus and look at the bigger picture'.' The beautiful thing is that there is no right or wrong here and 'just 'being' also serves a purpose,' says Raj.

Make the most of savasana 

Savasana (or corpse pose) is the last asana taken during a yoga class and is often referred to by yogis as the most important and the most difficult.  'But how can lying on your back with your eyes closed be hard?' you may be asking. Savasana is about letting go and being present. The challenge comes in simply 'being': releasing tension, thoughts, distractions, memories and ideas. Instead students often find themselves falling asleep or thinking, planning or worrying during this time. When done right, savasana offers the perfect time to assimilate the experience of your practice and prepare to carry this positive energy into your daily life.

  • Make sure you are comfortable temperature wise, which could mean putting on a long-sleeved top or your socks as your body cools down from the heat generated during more active asanas.
  • If parts of your body need support, ask your teacher to help you place a bolster there.
  • Follow your breath to stay present.
  • Consciously work through the body to release all muscle tension and allow yourself to sink into the floor.
  • Yoga eye pillows make the  the perfect prop for savasana. They work to block out light, while providing gentle weight to the pressure points around the eyes and temples.

Amazonia Loves: Silk Yoga Eye Pillows by Stretch Now,  which are soft and luxurious, made from 100% natural silk, filled with flax seeds and dried lavender.

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By Lolita Walters

With expert tips from Raj Barker Instagram @nutritionandsoul / Facebook Raj Barker - Nutrition and Soul