Honest Asana Practice (How not to be a wrecking ball to your body)

I don't want you to end up in a New York Times article about yoga injuries (and I don't want to be there either). So here is a quick list for all of us yogis practicing asana along with the other limbs.

Avoid the sins of omission. Be honest with your teacher about injuries you have or ones that come up during the practice. This is your responsibility as a practitioner. If you are a female, be upfront about your pregnancies - even if you are newly pregnant and your yoga teacher is the 2nd (or even first) person you tell. If an instructor doesn't ask about injuries - call them over to tell them. If the instructor doesn't seem to care - LEAVE THE CLASS. DO NOT WAIT until after class to leave. Leave right then.

Give feedback. Good teachers are built partly by students that engage beyond themselves. If you receive an adjustment that hurts - SAY SOMETHING. If a teacher helps you and rocks your asana world - say that too.

Use props when you need them. Yoga accessories are pretty awesome. They are not signs of weakness. It means you are smart enough to know when that crazy human body of yours needs a little help.

Photo courtesy of restorativeyogaposes.com

Focus on you. As a beginner, you may not be able to do a handstand. As an intermediate student, you may not be able to do a handstand. As an advanced student, you may not be able to do a handstand. We are all different. Don't wreck your body because you are too busy wanting someone else's bendy body. The great thing is that no one is competing for the best spot on the A team. Everyone can join. Your body is beautifully yours. Embrace what you have, and change only what you can in a healthy way.

Listen to your body first and foremost. If you are tired, rest. If you are sick, take it easy. Your body's voice should always come before your teacher when it comes to pain. Two words: Child's pose. It is the universal sign to a teacher that you need a break or a rest. There are many types of yoga and many types of bodies. It takes time and experience to find what individual style or combination of styles will work for you. Vinyasa to music really makes me want to dance on my mat - even if everyone is watching.Yin makes me cranky. Forrest makes me crazy happy. Restorative makes me want to heal all of my hurts simply by being still.

Ask questions. Be mindful. Protect yourself.

"Practice, practice...and all is coming." -Pattahbi Jois