Helpful Yoga and Holistic Health Practices

by Barbara Purcell

10. Identify the kind of yoga you'd like to practice—there are many different levels and variations on hatha (yoga poses) and vinyasa (flowing sequence of yoga poses). If you're looking for a restorative class with gentle poses, you may want to call ahead and make sure that the "open level" won't move too quickly. Conversely, if you'd like to break a sweat, a "basics" class might focus more on the poses, rather than how to vigorously connect each posture.  

9. Try to develop a daily practice. Even if you can't make it to the studio, it's a good idea to take a little to clear the mind, stretch, and go through your own flow of yoga poses.

8. Let go and let good. We can't help but be competitive as New Yorkers, but when it comes to attending a group class, leave your ego at the door. It's your time to focus on you and your practice—not the yoga rock star on the mat next to you.

7. Have a good sense of humor. Humility is an important part of the process. Yoga is about strengthening the heart and releasing the ego. There's no better way to achieve this then falling out of "crow pose."  

6. Listen to your body. Yoga helps us to recognize our mind-body connection, but if the body's hurting or needs a more restorative variation, honor the request! Whether you have your period or an injury, don't push yourself to overcome the ailment—no pain no gain isn't the right approach when aligning your mental and physical state.

5. Go to class with a full water bottle and an empty stomach. While it's important to remain hydrated, especially for a more rigorous practice, try to avoid eating beforehand—cramps and nausea may get in the way of enlightenment.

4. Buy your own yoga mat. Though yoga studios usually offer communal mats for a small fee, there is the risk of exposure to bacteria, viruses, and fungi despite the use of cleaning products. NYC podiatrists and dermatologists have seen an uptick of athlete's foot and plantar warts amongst their yoga-practicing patients in recent years. Play it safe and pick up your own—a don't forget to regularly wash it!

3. Read up on yoga. Yoga makes us feel great before, during, and after class. Pick up a book or two on the philosophies behind this ancient art—learn why 50 million pelvis fans can't be wrong.

2. Breathe. Whether you're holding a pose or connecting them through a vinyasa, sequence, do so with a long and deep ujai breath. To do this, your mouth should be closed, and both inhaling and exhaling should occur   only through your nose.  

Keep Breathing. Connecting yoga poses with your steady breath is essential for centering the body, balancing the mind, and letting go of all outside stresses. And whether your on a yoga mat or a subway seat, you can deepen your breathing and quiet down the mind

Barbara Purcell  2007