If you’re not sure how to get yourself ready for MURFEST these five tips from Summer Dien of SoulScape will give you a gentle nudge in the right direction.
Whether you are a beginner or an advanced yoga practitioner, it is always good to come back to the basics. These five simple tips, when applied, will take your yoga practice to the next level.
The breath is the most important part of yoga practice. Focus on the breath, even if you forget the posture or the sequence. Breathe through the nose with sound, constricting the glottis, and creating an aspirated sound in the throat. The breath should be soft, smooth and audible. Breathing with sound creates an object for the mind to focus on, creates heat within the body, builds an internal fire, and helps to circulate the blood. Coordinate one breath with one movement, and let the breath initiate the movement. Breathing properly ensures that you receive the subtle benefits of the practice.
Keep a Positive Attitude
Just show up on the mat every day and do your best. Your best is going to vary from day to day. Stay true to yourself, and do the best that you can for today. Be aware of any self-talk during practice. If you catch yourself in a negative or unkind thought, think positive: ‘You can do it! Keep going! You’ve got this! I love this pose!’ Keep a sense of humour and do not be afraid to laugh at yourself. Smile!
Listen to Your Body
You are your best teacher—you know your body better than anyone else. Many teachers will tell you many different things, and sometimes that information is conflicting. Listen to your body and what it tells you, and only go as far as you feel comfortable. If you feel pain, then proceed with caution or back off. Some people force their bodies into a position it is not ready for, and this results in injury. Some people will stop before they have reached their edge. Go to a place where you feel challenged, yet without pain. Be kind to your body, and honour where you are at. There is no need to rush or force anything, everything will come in its own time. If you plan to commit to a yoga practice for the rest of your life, then a couple of weeks, months or years to learn something is a short time. Keep this perspective in mind.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Make time in your day to practice. If you really care about your practice and you find benefit from it, then you will make time for it. Consistency is key. One sun salutation is better than none! Keep up the thread of practice. Focus on quality over quantity. Find the balance here. More practice does not necessarily mean that you will get better, faster. Give yourself at least one rest day. Practicing three to five days a week in the beginning is a good start.
Always rest in savasana after practicing for seven to 10 minutes, or stay until the sweat has dried off your body. Savasana ensures that the body absorbs the benefits of the practice. Allow the breath to return to normal and focus on the navel. Come out slowly, roll onto your right side and stay for awhile before sitting up. Savasana is the most important pose and should never be skipped!
Summer Dien is an international pranayama and ashtanga yoga teacher, trained in the classical pranayama practices of the Khaivalyadham lineage and in the traditional Ashtanga Vinyasa system. She completed her training in 2013 with Paul Dallaghan then worked at Samahita Retreat in Koh Samui, Thailand for two years, where she taught pranayama, mysore/ashtanga, restorative, and guided meditation. Summer continues to study extensively with her teachers, Sri OP Tiwariji and Paul Dallaghan, in the areas of pranayama and asana. Summer has a liberal approach and believes in using the body in the most intelligent way possible, while adhering to the general principles of the Ashtanga Vinyasa method. She advocates modifying the poses to suit the student’s current needs and abilities. Summer is committed to the path of yoga and dedicates her life to fully supporting and uplifting others by passing on the ancient yogic practices of asana and pranayama.