5 Ways to Make Your Yoga Practice More Relaxing
Yoga is an excellent way to stay fit, reduce stress, and add a little zen to your daily routine. However, if you’re typically pretty busy, it can be hard to relax during yoga. You might find yourself checking the time, thinking about all the things you need to do, or even cutting your practice short.
Luckily, there are some simple ways to make your yoga practice feel more relaxing and immersive, which means you’ll get the maximum benefit. Try the tips below during your next practice and see how you feel.
1. Choose the Yin Style of Yoga
Not all yoga is created equal, and some styles are much more energetic than others. While styles like Ashtanga and Vinyasa are focused on a pretty intense workout, Yin yoga is a calming, restorative practice. This makes it perfect for those times when you want to relax and wind down – perhaps when you’re feeling extremely stressed, or before bed.
Yin yoga consists mainly of seated poses and helps you to focus on your breath and let go of thoughts that aren’t serving you. You’ll also gently increase flexibility and release tension from the body, which is perfect if you’re scrunched up after a long day at work.
2. Burn Incense or Light Candles
Even the simple act of lighting a stick of incense or a candle can transform the atmosphere of your yoga practice. If you’re doing yoga in your bedroom, office, or living room, it helps signal a change from your normal use of this room to your yoga time.
Adding scent to the air makes it easier to focus on your breath and helps to transport you to a more relaxing state of mind. An ocean-scented incense stick could remind you of a relaxing beach holiday, or a pine-scented candle could make you feel like you’re practicing in the forest. Experiment with scent and see what works for you.
3. Clean Your Mat with Essential Oils
You’ll be getting up pretty close and personal with your yoga mat, so keeping it clean and fresh is important. Using essential oils to clean your mat is a great way to add a little aromatherapy to your practice, and many oils are renowned for their soothing properties. Some of the best options for relaxation include:
- Ylang Ylang
Testing out your own essential oil combinations is a lot of fun, and a nice way to prepare for your yoga. If you find a combo you love, mix it up in a small spray bottle for regular use.
4. Play Relaxing Music or Nature Sounds
If you usually practice yoga in silence, you might find that you’re distracted by the sounds around you. Cars revving on the street might remind you that you need to get fuel. Your upstairs neighbor might irritate you with their loud music. Your noisy boiler might have you stressing about hiring a plumber.
To help you stay present and grounded, try playing some soothing music or nature sounds. A quick online search will reveal tons of free music for relaxation and healing, and there are plenty of smart apps that let you combine your favorite nature sounds. Combined with soothing scents, these tracks can make you feel like you’re in another place altogether.
5. Practice Focusing on the Present Moment
If you spend your entire yoga practice thinking about the past or worrying about the future, you probably won’t leave feeling particularly relaxed. Learning to focus on the present moment is one of the most important aspects of yoga, so you shouldn’t ignore it.
Get in the habit of focusing on your breath and staying connected with your body for the entirety of each pose. Don’t be tempted to simply go through the motions while mentally planning, stressing, or ruminating. The more you stay in the moment, the more relaxed you’ll feel. If you’re really struggling, try adding a short meditation to the beginning of your practice.
Yoga is a great tool for stress relief, but it doesn’t always feel like it’s working. If you’re finding that yoga isn’t as relaxing as you’d like, try following the tips above. You might be surprised by the difference.