Each time you step on your mat at a yoga class, it's a different experience. What happened at the office, what's on your radar for the night, and the expectations you brought with you to class can all profoundly affect your practice. When you're feeling stretched too thin, it's easy for your mind to wander off during yoga.
When your mind leaves your mat and starts running through all your checklists, poses feel 10 times more challenging, negative emotions arise, and you forget why you even wanted to do yoga in the first place. If you've been having a tough time relaxing and letting go during class, use these tips to get your practice back on track.
Focus on your breath: When you feel your mind start to wander and give up on the teacher's instructions, bring all your awareness to the quality of your breath. Focusing on lengthening your inhales and exhales keeps you engaged with class and helps you feel more relaxed, instantly. If I ever feel myself drifting off or a pose getting intense, making this little adjustment changes everything for the better.
Make yourself the priority: For many people, yoga class is the first time all day where health and happiness is the number one priority. All those emails, calls, and obligations will be waiting for you once class is over! Take advantage of this time, and be a little selfish with your thoughts. When you give your undivided attention to class, the time flies by, and you come back to all your outside projects with a refreshed perspective.
Take a Child's Pose: When all else fails, drop your knees to the mat, push your hips back to Child's Pose, and breathe deep. Giving yourself the opportunity to relax and check in doesn't mean you're giving up. Instead of obsessing about what everyone else in the room is doing (or thinking), Child's Pose allows you to turn inward at the time you need it most. After five or 10 breaths here, you can continue on with your practice feeling connected and committed.
Give yourself a break: Every day brings new challenges, and some days, your practice is just not going to measure up to your expectations. Stop being hard on yourself, and just do the best you can with what you brought to class that day. Just the fact that you made it to yoga class on a stressful day is something to celebrate.