7 Trainer Secrets That Will Improve Your Yoga Practice

What's holding you back in your yoga practice? One of these expert tips, from Self's #TrainerIntel series, may just be what you need.

Thinkstock | petrograd99

If you've ever wished for your own yoga guru, you're in luck: Today's #TrainerIntel taps Yogi Cameron, a former model turned go-to instructor to celebs like Maria Menounos. Besides one-one-one teaching to stars and appearing on TODAY, The Dr. Oz Show and Ellen to give advice, Yogi Cameron — or YC, as clients call him — has also started a program in Afghanistan to bring yoga and meditation to U.S. soldiers and local Afghanis, and works with the Somaly Mam Foundation to help rehabilitate girls rescued from sex trafficking in Cambodia. Oh, and he answered our questions below via email from a forest in India on his wedding day. So yes, he's pretty much the most generous, thoughtful and enlightened guru we've met.

If you're feeling stressed, anxious or unable to focus during a yoga session, how do you deal?

"Bring the focus back to breathing. The reason people become anxious in anything they're doing (not just yoga) is because of thoughts and emotions. By putting our focus on our breath while moving in and out of postures, we give the mind a supporting role; it's occupied on the breath and has no time to focus on any other thought."

What's one easy tip to remember during a pose to better your breath?

"Remember to exhale when folding downward, and when rising out of a posture, inhale. This goes with the natural flow and rhythm of our breathing, so it supports movement instead of adding struggle."

If someone was only going to do one yoga pose, what do you think it should be, and why?

"Actually, in the yoga sutras , written 2200 years ago, it only mentions one posture -- padmasana, or lotus pose. All other postures were invented some 400 years ago. This cross-legged, seated pose helps you get flexible and grounded to perform other more advanced yogic exercises. It isn't easy to do, but it's essential for anyone wanting to deepen their practice."

You're a practitioner of ayurvedic (natural) medicine; what is one tip that SELF readers could take from this lifestyle, and try to incorporate in their day-to-day lives?

"Protecting stomach health is one of the biggest ayurvedic principals. One simple practice: Drink hot or warm water first thing in the morning before anything else, instead of cold. Your stomach temperature is already warm, so drinking warm liquid will help aid your digestion."

Fill in the blank: The most delicious, nutritious post-workout snack or meal I've had is _____.

"This one replaces nutrients and energy used during exercise, but won't feel too heavy: Mix molasses and ghee and spread it on a rice cake." [Ed. Note: Did you just raise your eyebrows? Trust us, it tastes good! - MS]

What poses would be best to do first thing in the morning, to help wake up and feel energized? And what about at night, right before you go to bed, to help relax and sleep sounder?

"Good, safe postures for the morning: Warrior 1, Warrior 2, Boat pose. For winding down before bed, these are wonderful: Forward bend, Hero's pose, Child's pose, Corpse pose."

What universal fitness tips do you swear by?

"These five really help to maintain an equilibrium: Not too much or too little sleep, food, work, talking or sex." [Ed. Note: We're not sure if you can have too much of that last one, but we'll defer to our guru here. - MS]

— Marissa Stephenson

More from Self.com: