I like to get to the yoga studio early, so I can rest in Savasana and ground myself. I find that the more centered I am before class, the better the class is for me. If I rush in and barely hit the mat before the instructor says “Everyone please stand up,” then I spend half the class chasing the mindset, and I feel less accomplished when class is over. I like to lay out my mat and towel, get my block and water and things in order, and set an intention for the class.
I close my eyes, do some deep breathing, and focus on opening each Chakra, which I find helpful in bringing my attention to my body’s core and the mind-body connection. Counting down, muscle relaxation exercises, or focusing on your breath may work better for you. What’s most important is that it brings your attention to yourself and away from any stressors. It doesn’t have to be perfect – you’re not doing it wrong if other thoughts crop up. Acknowledge them and return your attention to your breath, counting, etc. It will get easier with time.
After a few moments, I think about my intention for class that day. Think about why you’re there, and think about something specific you can do to increase your feelings of determination and accomplishment.
If your goal is strength or weight loss, you may set an intention to stay as deep in each pose as you can.
Another is to take at least one pose up to the next level – maybe decide to work a bind at every opportunity, even if you can only hold it for a few seconds, gradually increasing your strength and balance.
Yet another is to decide to hold every pose until the instructor moves to the next one – ease up a little, or modify if you need to, but jump back in to the pose if you fall out, and stay there until they actually end the pose. It’s harder than you think!
At the end of class, in final Savasana, think of the intention you set at the beginning of class. Did you stick with it? If not, what got in the way? Were you beating yourself up too much? Holding your breath? Letting go of that obstacle is a good intention for your next class.
You can set more than one intention as long as you don’t overwhelm yourself. If you are new to the practice of asanas, you could burn yourself out quickly by demanding too much of your body. You might decide to stay in each pose as long as possible and breathe mindfully – and breathing will help you hold the pose longer, so they tie in to each other.
Often I set an intention to surrender to each pose because I want to feel better. Tribalance Yoga is meditation in motion, and the poses don’t allow room for me to dwell on my day or worry about tomorrow. Beating myself up for falling out of the last pose, or worrying about when Half Moon will come up, will just lessen the benefits of the pose I am in now. At the end of class, I check in on the intention I had set – do I feel better? I may have had some physical limitations that day, and I may have wobbled and fallen out of many poses, but if I feel better, then I had a fantastic class.