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How to Make the Most of Yoga

By Sandy Schroeder

Yoga does so much for so many that sometimes we take it for granted. For me, it helps my body relax and strengthen as I reclaim a sense of peace. The minute I settle onto my yoga mat I begin to relax. Wherever you are with yoga, just beginning or well into a practice, I think there is always more to discover about yoga.

I have watched my friends enjoy our weekly yoga class, and each person seems to have his or her own take on what yoga does for them. Some have aches and pains that smooth out with weekly sessions and practice at home. Others need help with balance and find it with a series of yoga poses. Still others want to tone their bodies and strengthen their muscles as they look ahead to fall. I have a great instructor and she manages to weave all of those goals together with one focused session after another.

First off, the site reminds us to make sure yoga mats are resilient and textured to avoid slipping, and yoga clothes are comfortable. From there, here are some more thoughts about what yoga can do for you.

Stay open to the moment - Too often I come into my yoga session with goals in mind. If it has been a busy week, I just want to relax. If I feel stiff and sore, I am looking for pain relief, but the real secret is to be open to whatever the yoga session provides for you. Be open to yoga as it unfolds. Let it be whatever it turns out to be, which can be amazing.

Make yoga your own special place - It is tempting at times to watch others pull off difficult poses with ease, but the real secret to yoga is remembering yoga is an individual practice, not a competition. Use your body, breath and mind to let one pose flow into the next. When you do, you may feel your own personal rhythm emerging. If one pose is too difficult, drop back into child's pose, and wait for another day to master the elusive one. There is no one right way, just a steady flow of movement that pulls you out of the ordinary and brings you to a new and better place.

Experience all of the sensations - Let your breath go deeper and see how much better a stretch can be. Tune in to your feelings of sadness, joy or boredom and be aware of your heart rate and body temperature.

Give your all to each session - Commit to each practice, letting it be a workout, meditation, and new experience with its own message. Sometimes I come away tired but pleased. Other times I come away with fresh energy ready to tackle new things. There is no one right answer, but there is always something new to be had when you put yourself completely into it.

Wherever you are with yoga, help yourself to its many benefits.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Irvine, California

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